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Amazon Lets Prime, Echo Take Center Stage for TV Advertising

The 2019 edition of Amazon’s Prime Day came and went on July 15 and 16 — something you certainly noticed barring some sort of self-imposed internet blackout. But even if you happened to avoid the hype on the days of what’s become the largest online shopping period outside of the holiday season, Amazon was using TV advertising to stoke the fire plenty in the weeks leading up to it.

From July 1 to July 18, the company dedicated an estimated $29 million and change (nearly $30 million) to TV ads for Amazon, Amazon Prime and Amazon Echo, according to always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv. Of those, $13.6 million came from Echo, with Prime coming in second at $9.8 million. It should be no wonder that Echo products — which came with steep discounts for Prime Day — sold so many units during this year’s event.

The Echo (and Prime) focus also mimic Amazon’s year-long strategy for TV ads as well. Amazon’s spent more on both — $79 million for Echo and $76.7 million for Prime — since January 1 than they have for Amazon in general ($62.9 million). And $20 million of that latter spend came from the Super Bowl alone. So despite the slight upticks in spend on Echo and Prime going into Prime Day, pushing those two aspects of the company has been the plan all along.

Had Amazon spent even more on advertising, it still likely would’ve been worth it, based on how much Prime Day reportedly earned: around $6.2 billion in sales, which beat out Amazon’s own pre-Prime Day estimates and also last year’s results (by about $2 million) as well.

While Amazon aimed general advertising at audiences on MTV (7.6% of all TV ad impressions), TV Land (6.9%) and NBC (5.5%), Prime actually bought heavily into Univision, with 16.3% of all impressions. Echo actually looked more like Amazon’s general ads, with a primary focus on NBC (8%) and MTV (6.8%). In both cases, MTV’s “Ridiculousness” was the top program.

Given the emphasis so far, this strategy probably provides insights into how Amazon will approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well, and what the rest of the retail industry will focus on in kind (quick delivery, voice). Though Amazon receives the most direct benefit from Amazon sales and events like Prime Day, third-party sellers are also major beneficiaries as the company continues to serve as a key part of larger multichannel strategies — something Downstream CEO Connor Folley discusses in more depth here. With third-party sales topping $2 billion this year, and competitors like Target, Wal-Mart and more also cashing in on the consumer spending bonanza, it would seem prudent to follow Amazon’s lead and let them spend the TV ad money as other retailers put budgets elsewhere while also riding the wave.