Amazon’s advertising team is offering brands a mix of live video and paid promotional programming in ways that might provide a preview of the next generation of home shopping on the platform, according to a leaked pitch deck obtained by Ad Age (see below).
As brands get ready for the busiest shopping season of the year, Amazon has been selling its live video service as a more effective way to reach customers. The pitch deck claims that brands featured on the live stream see a bigger sales bump than they do on Prime Day, Amazon’s manufactured summer sale.
The pitch deck says that consumer electronics brands saw an average 95 percent lift in unit sales during the hours they were featured on Amazon Live compared to average hourly sales on Prime Day. Sales for home brands increased 131 percent over Prime Day, the deck says.
Amazon is offering a “one stop shop for end-to-end production,” the pitch deck says. “Bring your brand to life with native integrations in Amazon produced shows.”
“With Amazon Live, we work to add value to the Amazon shopping experience by helping customers discover new products and brands and make informed purchase decisions in a fun, interactive way while enabling brands to tell their story, demo their products, and engage with customers in real time,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in an e-mail statement
The pitch deck gives a rare look into one of Amazon’s more low-key offerings, which it has been quietly building all year. Amazon Live is a program that the company streams daily, not unlike the TV shopping network QVC. Part of the platform even allows brands and individual entrepreneurs to stream their own home-shopping programs. It's free for brands to post, but the pitch deck shows that Amazon is turning its professional live services into an ad revenue generator.
“Amazon is very savvy in the ways it creates new kinds of shopping that really sit at the intersection of media and retail,” says George Manas, U.S. president and chief media officer at OMD. “Amazon Live, is it a media experience or retail? It’s both. That’s pretty innovative. But it remains to be seen whether or not it has long term scalability and viability, but from the perspective of innovation it could be game-changing.”
Live for the holidays
Amazon, with a studio in New York City, is inviting brands to run live shows on days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, according to the pitch deck. It also promotes New York Fashion Week, cold and flu season, National Pet Month, Women’s Day, and other events targeted to more specialized retailers.
To be sure, Amazon has complex relationships with its sellers and brands, where the retailers sell their products through the platform, where they compete with Amazon’s own brands. They also pay for advertising to get an edge, which often means competing with Amazon for attention on its own service. Brands pay to appear higher in search results and they pay for splashier product pages. Brands can pay to be featured in Amazon’s Holiday Toy List, for example, for up to $2 million for the mention, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
Amazon declined to elaborate specifically on the Amazon Live pitch deck and how it prices sponsorships in the program. However, it did clarify how brands participate in similar specialty programs like the Holiday Toy List. Amazon selects the brands on the list independent of considerations around how much they spend on advertising, the spokeswoman said by e-mail. The featured brands can then gain more exposure through advertising, the spokeswoman said.
“We source product ideas from many places, including our selling partners who have an opportunity to nominate their best toys for the season and increase visibility of those toys,” the spokeswoman said.
Amazon’s U.S. ad revenue will hit nearly $10 billion this year, an increase of 33 percent from 2018, according to eMarketer.
The Amazon Live pitch deck does not show pricing, but advertisers say that appearances start at $250,000, according one agency executive who spoke on condition of anonymity. The price can vary depending on the holiday and the level of production going into the programming. Also, pricing changes for brands depending on their relationship with Amazon, because they work out marketing packages that include more than Amazon Live, advertisers say.
What the pitch deck shows is that Amazon is thinking through all the ways brands could get involved in its home-shopping video plans. Brands can appear in “today’s deals;” during tentpole events like Prime Day; there are category sponsorships like “beauty;” and brand-owned shows.
Amazon Live is looking to create programming that mixes the art of TV sales with the culture of online influence, where brands can tap celebrities and other personalities to help showcase their goods. The pitch deck shows brands how to create “mini-series” to “integrate your contextually relevant content hosted by influencers and experts.”
For brands or individuals not willing or able to pay for prominence, Amazon released an app to live stream their shopping videos.
“It’s a really interesting marketing phenomenon because it’s sort of doing for brands what YouTube did for individuals,” says Catherine-Gail Reinhard, VP of product strategy and marketing at Dash, the kitchen electronics maker. “It’s democratizing the ability to do a live sell and reach an audience.”
As Amazon pitches its highly polished production services to advertisers, it’s also offering tutorials to the brands with less money for marketing. In November, Amazon sent out invitation e-mails to marketers to watch the tutorials on how to live stream for the holidays.
For its part, Dash, which is behind consumer hits like a super-fast egg cooker, will be streaming deals on Black Friday. The egg cooker has been featured a number of times as one of the deals on the daily show produced by Amazon.
Amazon doesn’t charge to feature all the products on the stream, as its staff hand picks certain products to feature. Amazon doesn’t even say how many people watch the live shopping show, but brands can see their sales numbers: On days when Amazon’s home-shopping team has promoted the egg cooker on its live stream, Dash sees 10 times the number of sales, Reinhard says.
On Black Friday, Dash will offer deals on a safe-slicing mandoline and an air fryer. While it’s free to stream the shopping show that Dash produces independently of Amazon’s main live show, the company does have a paid advertising strategy to promote the products on the platform and beyond, Reinhard says.
Reinhard did not disclose the marketing budget, however.
“We’re going to do live streaming on Amazon for the first time and presenting those two different products,” Reinhard says. “We’ll see what visibility we get. We’ll see if we get a sales lift. We’ll be monitoring that internally, watching the live sell and see how it goes.”
Adrianne Pasquarelli contributed to this report.