Amazon released more details about plans for the Black Friday game yesterday, and named more of the brands participating, including Nintendo, TCL, Dyson and Lego.
Amazon’s Danielle Carney, head of NFL ad sales, said that the Amazon team sold brands on creating custom commercials just for this game, and that there will be twice as many “interactive” ads as during a typical Thursday game on Amazon. This means people watching can use their remotes to take actions on the commercials, such as adding a toy to their Amazon shopping cart without leaving the game.
“For advertisers, it’s the first time to really kick off the holiday shopping season on Black Friday with that type of large-scale audience,” Carney told Ad Age. The second buyer said the game is anticipated to draw an audience of about 20 million, but that the estimate is “pretty low when you think that you don’t need to have Amazon Prime to watch this—it’s going to be free to everyone—so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw well above 20 million folks watch this thing given a lot of people are off from work and the nature of the holiday.”
What’s different for this game than the typical Amazon football presentations, is the level of participation of consumer goods brands, Carney said, including Hasbro, Bose and Columbia Sportswear. Brands are trying to lead football viewers from commercial to holiday sales, and Carney said Amazon has data showing that it can take holiday shoppers down that path. Amazon’s first-party data showed that reaching viewers with a commercial on “Thursday Night Football,” as the first impression, and then hitting that consumer with a more direct-response style ad—down funnel—afterward, increases views of a brand’s product detail page on Amazon by 100%, Carney said. Purchase rates are also higher for brands that start with campaigns that launch on “Thursday Night Football,” according to Carney, improving sales goals on certain campaigns by 86%, compared to campaigns that didn’t start on Amazon’s football streams.
“Columbia Sportswear or Hasbro, that haven’t traditionally purchased the NFL, those are great examples, [of brands] partnering with us not just for Black Friday but outside Black Friday, as well,” Carney said, saying brands would keep their campaigns rolling beyond the game, with different ad types, and retargeting shoppers across Amazon. “We’re working with nontraditional ads, building out custom creative that will be rolled in with talent for that game.”
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The first and second buyers said most of their clients had developed creative specifically for the game, which the second buyer said is merely the “base level” of opportunity Amazon’s broadcast presents. While many of those advertisers have upped the ante with shoppable capabilities built into their ads, the most advanced are utilizing Amazon’s data across its streaming, music, connected TV device and retail ecosystem to develop numerous variations of creative that can be served to different audience targets within the same ad unit.
The targeting was made available for the first time this year but could be tested even more widely during the Black Friday game. Amazon’s deep data offerings are what make packaging Black Friday with larger buys worth the investment, according to the second buyer, and the opportunity will only grow as the tech company looks to launch advertising in Prime Video originals next year.
The Black Friday game is a unique moment in streaming TV and advertising. The NFL has only run a slate of games on Thanksgiving, and then the shopping season starts in earnest Friday. Amazon is hosting this football game on all its websites and streaming properties, available to non-Prime Video members, too, giving it as wide a reach as possible. And Amazon has its e-commerce site that is tightly integrated with its connected TV strategy. Amazon is trying to use its data on consumer, football content rights and commerce to hook brands.
“I don’t think about it as just buying the spot—I’m buying the audience for the full season,” said the second buyer. After an advertiser runs its first “Thursday Night Football” spot, it begins developing a retargetable audience based on who watched, the buyer said, and the audience grows with “every subsequent spot throughout the year, so for some of our advertisers that’s been compounding and building itself.” The Black Friday game offers the opportunity to expand that audience segment by the tens of millions. According to the buyer, the data offering makes Amazon’s Black Friday game far more valuable than other holiday sports inventory that may be priced lower.
Similar to the Super Bowl, the second buyer foresees two or three spots from Amazon’s Black Friday game breaking out from the “promo soup” that “drive a lot of traffic and get people to transact” in substantial numbers. Should numerous success stories emerge, future iterations of the Black Friday game could ascend to getting the war room treatment from brands typically reserved for February’s Big Game.
A fourth buyer, however, said comparisons to the Super Bowl may be overblown, despite the unique offering from Amazon.
Amazon is “really thinking about meaningful connections in the game and rewarding fans for tuning in by getting exclusive deals,” Carney said. “We are partnering really closely with brands on delivering exclusive deals and being thoughtful about those placements, and how it leads throughout the game, and the deals [will be] changing throughout.”