7 Strategies for Targeting Amazon Shoppers on Prime Day

Use these lessons from Hollywood classics to guide your marketing strategy

mashup classic hollywood movies sherlcok holmes cool hand luke
Win at Prime Day with wisdom from Hollywood. Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Source: Amazon
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

During most of the year, a good rule of thumb for Amazon advertisers to target ads is using customer intent: previous search, browsing and purchase behavior.

The reason is simple: Amazon has a heck of a lot of shopper data. This is true 365 days a year, but Prime Day is not just any day—or, for the first time, two days. This 48-hour window is a frenzy of deals, so consumers’ prior (and future) intent on the site is a less effective targeting tactic. So what’s a brand to do?

Consider these seven Prime Day marketing tactics, which also happen to be classic quotes from films that are, naturally, available on Amazon:

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” —Cool Hand Luke

Because search behavior shifts, advertisers can instead target deal-type keywords or related terms on Prime Day. In a way this is still targeting customer intent, just in a slightly modified way, said Drew Kraemer, CEO of ecommerce-focused digital agency Marketplace Strategy.

amazon prime day 2019 dates

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys.” —Dead Poets Society

In addition, Kraemer said Amazon’s media group creates Prime Day packages for display advertising based on the number of impressions a certain category will likely get. This is an easy way for brands to realize their impression goals, he noted, as brands that take advantage can end up with as much as 75% of the display inventory in a specific category on Prime Day.

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” —The Godfather, Part II

Another Prime Day-specific tactic is to build new audiences based on competitors’ Prime Day deals, Kraemer said.

This works in the same way as advertisers using intent to discover other categories of interest to their customers. For example, an Amazon shopper buying coffee pods also purchasing pet food or dairy products.

“We can create a campaign to target these category groupings and help scale product awareness outside of the relevant category,” said Tanya Zadoorian, senior marketplace channel analyst at digital agency Tinuiti.

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” —The Godfather

Or, brands can simply offer a really steep discount with the hope of moving enough product to make the thinner margin work. David Hutchinson, national director of paid platform merchandising at digital agency iProspect, said some of his clients use this tactic.

In addition, Melissa Burdick, president of ecommerce platform Pacvue and former Amazon category and advertising manager, said brands and sellers can create Prime member-only deals, including giving them early access.

"Amazon knows what products you are looking at and when you are looking at them."
—Tanya Zadoorian

“Typically, during this event, sellers/brands will set up deals for Prime members as they have a greater opportunity to show on pages like the deals page or coupons page,” Zadoorian added.

“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” —Dirty Harry

Per Hutchinson, another approach is offering Prime Day-exclusive products because, in part, Amazon highlights new products as Prime Day Launches.

I could’ve been a contender.” —On the Waterfront

Brands can also choose to simply run more ads by upping their spending to make sure their products are in the spotlight, Hutchinson said. At the same time, he cautioned advertisers to consider historical data on consumer behavior and expected uplift. By looking at return on ad spend (ROAS) and cost per conversion during Prime Days past, brands can make better-informed decisions about what to spend on future Prime Day promotions.

sherlock holmes with a magnifying glass

“Elementary, my dear Watson.” —The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

And then there are Lightning Deals, which should be a main focus of third-party sellers with Seller Central accounts, according to Chris Rawlings, CEO of Amazon optimization company Judolaunch.

“The seller can choose the discount of the deal, but it has to be at least 20% off and the product has to have high-quality standards [such as a minimum star rating],” Rawlings said.

There’s some bad news for procrastinators: These products had to be approved by May 15 so it’s too late for 2019, but they can be earmarked for future Prime Days.

Alternatively, first-party vendors can offer a Deal of the Day, which, as the name implies, is around all day, Rawlings said.

Sellers who don’t opt for Lightning Deals or Deals of the Day typically use clickable coupons or promotions on Facebook and/or Google, Rawlings said.

Zadoorian called this the “omnichannel approach to Prime Day,” and also pointed to email as another way to create awareness and boost traffic.

Bonus: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” —The Wizard of Oz

That being said, Amazon has its own levers to pull when it comes to the types of deals customers see during Prime Day.

“Amazon knows what products you are looking at and when you are looking at them. To that extent, each user can have a different customer experience on the platform for Prime Day and see some deals over others,” Zadoorian said. “At the same time, Amazon curates its Deals page based on favorable deals and will offer those at a higher placement in order to push through more inventory.”

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