6 Ways Prime Day Will Look Very Different This Year

It’s not just later on the calendar

Prime Day in October is shaking up traditional holiday retail. Amazon
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

As Amazon’s sixth annual Prime Day approaches, so does the unofficial start of the 2020 holiday shopping season. Much remains to be seen, including how much consumers are willing to spend before Halloween and how this will impact the remainder of Q4.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. But we can expect to see a handful of big changes among brands, retailers and consumers.

Brands will spend even more on advertising

Prime Day in October gives brands the ability to message consumers earlier about holiday deals, which may result in higher ad spend overall. That’s because the brands that do well on Prime Day will see such a high return on ad spend (ROAS) they’ll decide it’s worth going back to the well for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, said Eric Heller, executive vice president of marketplace services at Wunderman Thompson.

At Amazon’s Accelerate event in September, he said the platform told brands and third-party sellers to plan for two to four times their regular ad budgets and to start advertising early.

“They’re telling brands and third-party sellers to really invest on Prime Day,” he said. “Of course, that’s what you need to do to get above the fray, but once you’ve spent in October, it’s not like you’re going to say you won’t allocate additional money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

And these advertisers aren’t just moving the budget they would have spent in July.

“What we already know is they already spent anyway because Amazon had so many peaks in consumer spending [earlier this year],” Heller said. “I think this is upping the percentage of revenue Amazon is taking in through media.”

Consider this a holiday season advertising marathon

Elizabeth Marsten, senior director of strategic marketplace services at Tinuiti, noted this has been a particularly challenging year for brands to meet deadlines on offers and to get creative ready as a result of both the Prime Day delay and ambiguity on dates.

“Strategy has evolved to cover this and Q4 as a marathon and less of separate sprints the way we might have looked at some of these key dates in previous years, especially with the economic hardships that some consumers have had to face this year in particular,” she added.

But Amazon still has the power to move customers into a confident buying mindset, which marketers should take advantage of over the next two months. That’s according to Jon Maxson, senior director of SEO at iCrossing, who said brands should optimize their Amazon product presence for maximum potential rank, but they can also supplement their organic presence with paid media in categories where costs may be lower than in past years and where competition demands a more robust presence.

“Given the amount of fluctuation in the marketplace this year, it’s more critical than ever to coordinate organic and paid media efforts to maximize the incremental return on tight budgets and deliver the best possible total digital results,” Maxson said.

Consumers will be more wary

Following headlines about fraudulent products, Zach Weinberg, director of Gartner’s Amazon advisory group, said he suspects customers will approach their Prime Day purchases more carefully than in years past.

“I think that consumers will be even more scrupulous this year on Prime Day with regard to their choices and what they will purchase from known brands versus unknown brands on the Amazon Marketplace,” he said.


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@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.
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