Advertising and Amazon Prime Day 2019

Prime Day is here! This 48-hour sales event of summer is primed (see what I did there?) to eclipse past years’ sales and outshine Black Friday. As a consumer and marketer, I’m eager to explore both sides of the coin, and of course, add everything to my Amazon cart.

Let’s dive in.

Prime Day for Consumers

Some experts caution shoppers to jot down their needs (and wants) prior so you avoid impulse shopping, but know those coveted lightning sales and general sales may not be the best bang for your buck.

Consumers still value shopping around to find the best deals possible. While 68 percent of Adlucent survey respondents are planning to shop Prime Day, they’ll still comparison shop to find the best deal. Companies like Target, Walmart and eBay are eating up this opportunity to not only compete but take advantage of this shopping holiday. Walmart – the biggest Amazon competitor – claimed nearly 50 percent of online sales outside of Amazon, according to Marketing Land.

Prime Day for Advertisers

It’s easy to get caught up in the 48-hour window media planning frenzy by spending high dollars in paid search and social, but long-term ecommerce media planning is key. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Advertisers should examine their product listings to maximize Prime Day shoppers, but set themselves up for later back-to-school and holiday shopping. A Profitero study of more than 1,600 products on Prime Day 2018 found increases in sales were dependent on the sales discount.

Discounts of less than 20 percent delivered a two-time increase in sales, while not severely impacting profit margins – sales of 21-30 percent delivered sales gains of 493 percent, while 31-40 percent discounts generated a boost of 767 percent, according to eMarketer.  Some of this revenue and product movement comes from Lightning Deals, which is limited-quantity, limited-time offers that can give products a broader reach/exposure. Lightning Deal prep is a perfect opportunity for companies to gear up presence – both organically and paid – to participate in these coveted deals since they’ve since closed entry in May.

Joe Kaziukenas, CEO and Founder of Marketplace Pulse says, “The lift in sales you’re going to have by doing a Lightning Deal is obviously going to be multiple times greater than if you just expected an organic lift off a Prime Day. If you want a big increase in sales, and thus a big increase in popularity on Amazon, then a Lightning Deal is probably the best way to do it. Ultimately, you kind of give up the market for it.”

The Prime Day Halo Effect

Profitero conducted an analysis of “more than 13,000 products that grew traffic at least 50 percent on Prime Day 2018 vs. two weeks preceding the event to examine how the products performed post-event. The results found a strong halo effect where 66 percent of products analyzed had elevated sales levels two weeks after. And of those products experiencing a halo effect, there was an average traffic increase of 37 percent during the two-week, post-event period as compared with the two-week, pre-event period. Conversion rates declined from 24 percent to 22 percent during those times, but given the significantly higher traffic levels, brands still came out way ahead in driving post-event sales.”

Prevailing Beyond Prime Days

Prime Day is just two days in a long season, so what’s the big deal for your media plan? The estimated $5 billion in sales over the next two days should pique your interest, but your presence in the Amazon powerhouse can show long-term growth for your brand. (Learn more in our previous Amazon ad blogs.) An estimated 57 percent of brands utilize paid advertising on Amazon, and of those, 69 percent saw revenue growth over time. When talking dollars and sense when looking at Prime Day advertising cost on sales versus an annual (total) Amazon cost on sales, you’ll end up with the better deal long term.

You’ll see an incredibly high advertising cost on Prime Day, but simultaneously kickstart a flywheel effect that drives reviews and future organic sales. And everyone wins when my Prime packages arrive, and our clients see leaps and jumps when adding Amazon to their cart.

Amazon Prime Day 2018: Top Takeaways for Brand Marketers

Monday marked the fourth annual Amazon Prime Day. This year, Prime Day will run for 36 hours making it the longest version of the holiday yet.

For almost half a decade, the mid-summer tradition has been disrupting the holiday-shopping calendar, with this year’s festivities kicking off July 16th at 3 p.m. on the East Coast.

Even with some initial hiccups this year (more on that soon), Prime Day is still a force to be reckoned with for online and brick-and-mortar retailers alike. Here are the top takeaways for brand marketers from Prime Day 2018.

A dog day afternoon

You might expect some websites to crash from an onslaught of traffic, not Amazon though… right? Well, sure enough, the rush of shoppers on Prime Day was enough to cause significant issues on Amazon’s website and mobile app.

According to reporting from The Verge:

The outage is restricted to the US, and it appears to still be affecting large parts of California and the New York as of 5:30 p.m. ET, with a smattering of smaller outages in the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the country.

Some users have reported being able to access product pages but not the homepage. Some are not experiencing issues at all, while others are seeing the company’s well-known “dogs of Amazon” page, which is the company’s placeholder art during full-blown outages that highlights well-known pets of Amazon employees.

According to, the problems began pretty much right as Prime Day began Monday afternoon.

Problems with Amazon's site during Prime Day

Somewhat ironically, I was able to replicate this issue while shopping for dog beds around 7:30 p.m. ET, hours after Prime Day began.

Sorry! Something went wrong - Problems with Amazon on Prime day

Not everyone experienced this issue and apparently, there are ways around it. According to Amazon, despite the glitches, this year’s Prime Day still got off to a better start than 2017.

Primed for growth

With an extra six hours of deals, Prime Day 2018 is expected to be the most lucrative edition for Amazon yet. According to projections from Internet Retailer:

Shoppers will spend $4.04 billion on Amazon during its fourth annual Prime Day this year. That’s a 67 percent jump from the Internet Retailer-estimated $2.41 billion in sales on Prime Day last year (held on July 11, 2017). In the U.S., shoppers are expected to spend $2.5 billion, Internet Retailer estimates. Comparatively, last year Amazon grew its overall Prime Day sales by 60 percent year over year during the 30-hour sale.

Amazon Prime Day: Better than Black Friday?

Amazon’s efforts to drive sales during a typically slow season for retail is gaining steam. While it’s still not at the same level as Black Friday, reporting from Business Insider shows Prime Day is starting to close the gap.

Cowen & Co. estimates that Prime Day generated about $1 billion for Amazon last year, while e-commerce sales totaled $5.03 billion on Black Friday, according to Adobe.

But the deals are better than what shoppers might find on Black Friday, according to The website analyzed Amazon’s deals on Black Friday and Prime Day in 2016 and found that 77 percent of Prime Day prices were better than comparable deals offered on Black Friday.

According to numbers from the National Retail Federation, Prime Day isn’t just increasing in popularity, it’s also hurting Black Friday shopping numbers. In 2017, roughly 174 million customers shopped in-store and online over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, down from 226 million in 2011.

Local retailers not ready for Primetime

The majority of retail shopping – roughly 90 percent – still happens at local stores. However, Prime Day made a serious, albeit temporary, dent in that rate in 2017.

According to research from Foursquare:

As compared to an average summer week (excluding July 4th week), we found that all major retail categories saw a dip in foot traffic around Prime Day, with some recovery seen the week following (July 17 to the 23rd).

How Amazon Prime Day impacts foot traffic to local stores

Other retailers are fighting back

For years, retailers have been experimenting with ways to compete with the e-commerce juggernaut that is Prime Day. This year, retailers continued to ramp up those efforts.

According to reporting from Business Insider:

JCPenney, for example, held its biggest two-day sale this week ahead of Prime Day, and will hold another three-day promotion, called “Cyber-in-July,” starting Monday.

Macy’s, meanwhile, is holding a “Black Friday in July” promotion this week offering 25 percent off most of the site, and Lowe’s is offering 10 percent off sitewide on Monday and Tuesday for new and existing MyLowe’s Customers. Lowe’s is also giving out free Google Home Mini devices to shoppers who spend more than $150 on

In addition to running their own promotions, many retailers will price-match Amazon’s Prime Day deals. These retailers include Home Depot, Staples, Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond.

For its part, Target put on a one-day sale offering online deals store-wide today. A wink to Amazon Prime’s free shipping perk for members, Target is also offering free same-day delivery memberships for six months for shoppers who spend $100 online.

Target responds to Amazon Prime Day

Image source: Target

Apparently this effort to jump on Amazon’s bandwagon is working for retailers. According to data from Adobe Analytics data:

  • Online visitors to major retailers on Prime Day last year were 35 percent more likely to make a purchase.
  • Non-Amazon e-commerce outlets saw a 17 percent increase in online purchases.

Related: Advertisers Wake to Amazon’s Giant Opportunities

Want to Fast-Forward your brand’s online sales? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn about our e-commerce solutions.

Sleeping Advertisers Wake to Amazon’s Giant Opportunities

Bleary-eyed advertisers who’ve hit the snooze button on the Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) are waking to find it’s time to get caffeinated and catch up on overlooked opportunities.

The company that brings life’s wants and needs directly to 183 million consumers’ doors monthly knows more about their buying habits than Google or Facebook. While Google understands what users are looking for and Facebook knows (probably more than we want it to) about interests and likes, it’s Amazon that knows who is buying what, when and for how much.

Amazon Advertising Platform screenshotUsing predictive data from past purchases and real-time shopping insight, AAP serves up arguably the most relevant advertising at the time of decision. This puts advertising across Amazon’s owned-and-operated sites and apps at the bottom of the funnel.

CPG brands, like P&G and Unilever, have been among the first in line to include AAP in their brand and performance marketing strategies. Mega agencies Omnicom Group, Publicis and WPP plan to crank up their ad spend on Amazon between 40 and 100 percent this year, according to the Wall Street Journal. This will come, in part, at the expense of budgets previously tagged for Google and Facebook. So serious about AAP opportunities are ad agencies that WPP opened a Seattle office last year specifically to focus on Amazon, and it bought an Amazon consultancy for good measure.

Amazon advertising isn’t just an e-commerce play either. Brands without tangible products, like Progressive Insurance and Wells Fargo, are placing with the AAP. Other service categories, like moving companies, healthcare and travel, can make big inroads here, if they focus their brand strategy correctly.

Advertising on Amazon PrimeAdvertising options are plentiful across the sites, which include IMDb and Amazon Prime Video, as well as third-party exchanges. By 2022, Forbes reports that Amazon Prime Video subscriptions will reach 56 million domestically, providing solid audience numbers. While future advertising opportunities for Alexa on Echo have been under wraps, advertisers are taking advantage of ads on skills, like radio or podcasts.

Currently, options across Amazon sites include sponsored product ads, headline search ads, product display ads, out-stream and in-stream videos and sponsored content. Amazon is reportedly working with third-party mobile ad companies for video opportunities outside its own network. Offline opportunities are out there, too.

Targeting on AAP

According to Digiday, AAP targeting includes:

  • Behavioral (lifestyle, in-market)
  • Contextual (product category)
  • Lookalike (pixel-based, anonymous customer match, Amazon first-party data)
  • Remarketing (pixel-based, anonymous customer match)
  • Demographic/geographic

Interested in knowing more about Amazon strategies? Contact us.

Buzzwords aside, here’s what retail marketers need to know about consumers’ buying journeys in the digital era

We have more media options now than ever before for consuming and sharing content. We spend our days bouncing between our smartphones, computers, tablets, TV, etc. often using multiple devices at once. This has created an elastic buying journey that requires marketers to shift from media-focused ad placements to audience-focused targeting based on behavior and location. Which, in turn, has prompted a surplus of marketing buzzwords like “omni-channel,” “micro-moments,” “SoLoMo (social, local, mobile),” etc.

To be clear, I’m not bashing buzzwords. Like any other marketer, I use (overuse) them all the time. My point is in the digital era, consumers interact with media differently and, regardless of what we call it, they expect the path to purchase to also be a path of little resistance – an expectation that differs for each consumer.

In that spirit, I’m not interested in coining a new term for – or prognosticating about – the future of the buying journey. Rather, I want to look at what the biggest retailers are already doing to accommodate consumers in the digital era, what those actions mean for the retail industry and what other brands can start doing today to reach consumers.

Consolidating power

Big name retailers have been doing what big name retailers do – developing partnerships, introducing new features and acquiring smaller brands in a quest to dominate market share. Last week, retail giant Walmart and search giant Google announced a partnership to start offering the retailer’s product on Google Express in September.

Until now, Walmart has resisted offering their products online other than on its own site. But with Google Home, Walmart can now offer “hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping” for consumers to order – or reorder – on Google’s new voice-powered digital assistant.

Walmart and Google announce partnership to sell products with Google Home

comScore estimates half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 and voice-enabled devices are already disrupting digital media buying. Google Home owns a small share of the device market compared to Amazon’s Echo today, but it’s still early.

Voice-enabled speaker user share in the United States

Google also brings its advanced algorithms and years of experience learning users’ online habits. This should be especially helpful with one feature of the partnership: Walmart customers can link their accounts to Google and get personalized shopping results based on their online and in-store Walmart purchases.

Related: A look at paid search advertising in the Era of Voice Search

This was just the latest in a string of moves by Walmart to strengthen online sales. In the past year, Walmart has started a free two-day shipping feature and introduced an in-store pickup option. The retailer also acquired online retailer for a cool $3.3 billion and apparel retailer Bonobos for $310 million.

And the moves are working, second quarter online sales  were up 60 percent this year compared to 2016.

To recap: Walmart now offers free two-day shipping, the ability to order items through an AI powered voice search and personalized product recommendations to consumers. It almost sounds like Walmart is trying to compete with someone…

Taking down Goliath

It seems bizarre to compare Walmart and Google to David but in online retail, there is only one Goliath – Amazon. For comparison, Walmart offers roughly 67 million items online, Amazon has almost that many items in its Cell Phones and Accessories department alone.

While Walmart is beefing up its digital presence, Amazon is venturing out into the analog world. In June, Amazon invested more than $13 billion to acquire high-end grocery retailer Whole Foods, giving the online retailer access to 450 physical stores. (The company is also working on opening its 10th physical bookstore this year.)

But Amazon is still making digital technology an integral part of its offline strategy. Amazon Go is a prime example; it’s the company’s solution to traditional grocery stores by skipping the checkout lines.

“(The) shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”

If there’s an overarching theme to all these moves, it’s that big-name retailers are trying to offer consumers a buying journey that matches their media habits, blending online and offline options to provide each consumer their personal path of least resistance. In buzzword speak, it’s a “SoLoMo” approach to “omni-channel” advertising designed to reach consumers at the right “micro-moments.”

Improving your digital media campaigns

Competing in today’s media landscape requires each brand to develop its own unique approach comprised of many small puzzle pieces that when put together renders a cohesive strategy. However, there are plenty of little things brands can implement to reach consumers across channels to help guide them towards a purchase. 

Here are a few tips for retail brands:

No. 1: Put the “Lo” in “SoLoMo”

64% of smartphone shoppers turn to mobile search for ideas about what to buy before heading into stores.
For retailers looking to increase sales at brick-and-mortar stores, Google AdWords campaigns offer a variety of strategies:

No. 2: Connect the dots

78% of consumers have spent more time researching a brand or product online than they have in a store.

Consumers frequently go between shopping online and in store, so it’s important to tie online and offline actions. If a consumer spends 95 percent of the purchase process researching online but buys the product in your store, you want to make sure the advertising effort that did the heavy lifting gets the credit.

Attribution is integral to digital marketing, but perfecting it has been the industry’s white whale. However, digital marketers are making huge advances connecting online and offline behaviors and can attribute performance far better than many traditional media placements.

Related: The Latest from Google – June 2017

No. 3: Following the lead

2 out of 5 mobile shoppers leave a website without converting.

Online shopping allows consumers to spread out their research into smaller, incremental shopping sessions (hence “micro-moments”), and they tend to start and stop often. But just because someone doesn’t convert immediately doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Retailers can improve the odds of the consumer returning and make it easier for them to do so by retargeting them – meaning showing them related ads (via search, display, email, etc.) to keep the brand top of mind.

No. 4: Putting the “So” in “SoLoMo”

47% of Millennials use Facebook for holiday gift inspiration – 31 percent use Instagram and 30 percent use Pinterest.

Consumers spend a lot of time on social media and many use the platforms during the holidays for gift inspiration. So be where the people are by placing ads on top social sites. Facebook has several ad options that can drive e-commerce sales, increase in-store traffic or do both. For example, offer claim ads allow brands to extend discounts and promotions to targeted Facebook audiences.

Related: GoWireless boosts in-store sales with Facebook Offers

Moving forward

Implementing these four tips won’t bring on massive change like the Google-Walmart partnership, but they represent incremental steps that retail brands can take today. As more media options become available, brands need to implement these types of changes to reach consumers on as many channels as possible.

To learn more about retail marketing, check out our latest guide: Six tips to unwrapping the holiday season consumer buying journey

A Look at Paid Search Advertising in the Era of Voice Search

Have you had the pleasure of listening to your friends or coworkers shout commands into Amazon’s Echo device powered by Alexa yet?

“Alexa, play Passionfruit by Drake.”

Even if you don’t own an Alexa-enabled device, chances are you’ve heard similar commands. Maybe you’ve even heard the word “Alexa” so much that you can’t bear to hear it again.

Whatever the case, we’re now in the middle of an era where voice search has become a reality. Digital assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant are completely changing the way we search.

The benefits of voice search are tangible and easy to see, but what does the rise of voice search mean for brands and advertisers? Or, more specifically, how will marketers need to adapt to create ads in the era of voice search?

Natural Language Processing has transformed search

With the advent of better Natural Language Processing (NLP)  – technology able to recognize conversational language – marketers are faced with an interesting quandary: Produce relevant results, or get left behind.

The evolution of NLP has made it so that searchers are no longer bound by a keyboard, but rather, are able to articulate exactly what they’re looking for without having to repeat specific words to get the results they need.

And it’s only going to evolve more and more. By 2021, it’s estimated that close to two billion people worldwide will be actively using digital assistants like Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant.

Just think of where we’re already at with voice search and the devices they power:

  • Voice-activated remotes like Roku and Comcast
  • Voice-activated assistants like Cortana in Nissan vehicles
  • Voice-activated Google searches on mobile phones

This trend is only going to continue. Expect more and more internet of things (IoT) integration into our lives, especially when driverless cars start becoming more ubiquitous.

The current state of paid search

As marketers, we’re well-versed in how paid search ads operate — we create ads that entice people to click on them and, hopefully, convert. Generally, we know there are two specific things we can work on to improve ads if they’re not converting – revising ad copy and updating images. The general structure of text ads hasn’t changed for years. The specific mechanisms (radio, billboards, TV, internet, etc.) may have changed a great deal, but the format basically stayed the same… until now.

Incorporating ads into voice search

“Marketers need to think about screenless advertising and playing in a world where they can create closer connections because customers are actually speaking to [the company].”

Amazon has already been pushing customers to use Alexa to make purchases with voice commands. This push aligns with the direction Amazon has been moving in for awhile – trying to remove every barrier standing between their customers and a purchase (think of those Dash buttons that you simply need to push a button to place an order).

What role will ads play in this type of purchase flow?

Using Amazon’s Alexa as a model, let’s try and establish what future voice search ads might look like.

The most obvious difference between voice search and conventional search engines is that users won’t always be able to see search results, which may act as a barrier to conversion. (Note: Amazon recently unveiled the Echo Show, which provides a 7-inch touchscreen as part of its offering. That way, you have all the same flexibility you have with the voice search, but a visual component as well.)

When a consumer performs a voice search, the command is probably going to be more specific, and more conversational, since we can’t instantly see what the ad says to confirm before purchase. So, in order to effectively serve ads that match searcher’s voice commands, marketers need craft ads that reflect the change in search behavior.

How do we do that?

Companies like Microsoft are already betting on a future of “screenless advertising” by shifting their focus from making ads that are just visually appealing to users.

“While that effort and quest isn’t going to go away, screenless advertising will be an important complement to this, as people and consumers start speaking to their personal assistants in a variety of physical environments, but mostly while they are on the go,” said Rik van der Kooi, Microsoft’s VP of Advertising Sales and Marketing, in an interview with AdExchanger.

“Marketers need to think about screenless advertising and playing in a world where they can create closer connections because customers are actually speaking to [the company].”

Where do we go from here?

For marketers, this is an exciting shift, because it allows us to deliver more relevant messages and offers to our customers. Instead of using lots of text to produce ads that might not produce conversions, we can begin to shift towards creating ads that produce meaningful connections to our customers and give them the things that they’re looking for.

Ultimately, that’s how we can embrace voice search as a means of delivering exactly what our customers want.