How To Prepare For Prime Day 2021
Amazon’s Prime Day Event is slated to happen June 21-22, 2021. Marketers must begin digital strategy planning now to make the most of one of the biggest shopping events of the year!
UPDATED 5/21/21 to include announced Prime dates of June 21-22, 2021.
The Prime Day event is well known for its explosive growth over the past 6 years and has become a make it or break it moment for many e-commerce retailers, both on and off Amazon. While the event will look vastly different this year, from the time of year to anticipated products and messaging, marketers should build off learnings to inform an agile 2021 strategy.
Highlights from Prime Day 20201
The event keeps growing: 2020 Prime Day event drove higher sales for Amazon than ever before at an estimated $10.4 billion, up 45.2% from 2019.
Event halo impacted retailers off Amazon: Retailers off Amazon saw a halo impact from the event with 51% of top 100 retailers offering promotions, and off Amazon retailers seeing traffic increases of 51% and sales increases of 76% compared to 2019.
Competition from Holiday and Political Advertising drove up media costs: Facebook Paid Social costs increased 30-40% and Google Paid Search 15% for Ovative clients during the Prime Day event compared to average pre-period.
Stay at home behavior impacted categories purchased: Top categories including electronics, household essentials, health & beauty, toys & games, and home & garden.
What’s Different in 2021
Timing: Moving from October 2020 to June 21-22 this year, the Prime Day event will no longer mark the start of the holiday shopping season. A summer date is not new, as prior to 2020, the Prime Day event historically fell in July. The earlier date may suggest the desire to avoid overlap with the Olympics, avoid anticipated July transportation slow-downs, and to align with US national re-opening trends as vaccinations progress.2 However, do not count Amazon out this holiday season as a second event later in the year is rumored.3 While US re-opening trends continue, Amazon has already announced cancellations of Prime Day events in countries facing outbreaks including Canada and India to protect health and safety.4
Competition: With competitors like Walmart, Target, and Costco rolling out standard free, or near free, shipping, and same-day pickup during the pandemic, Amazon will need to step-up with better deals than ever before. However, we have yet to see the big competitors confirm dates for their big sales events and deal days.
Media Costs: New event timing and presence of competition will impact media cost expectations this year. Last year we saw Paid Social costs increase 30-40% and Paid Search costs increase 15% compared to pre-period average given heavy political and holiday advertising. This year we anticipate from 5%-15% increase in costs compared to last year’s event, heavily dependent on final event dates and COVID sentiment.
Supply Chain and Inventory: Delays due to the Suez Canal blockage are not planned to impact the Prime Day event in 2021, however pandemic-driven shortages including that of semiconductors could impact both the availability of and discounted deals on new electronics.2
Social Climate: As the one-year marker of George Floyd’s murder approaches, representing a year of social unrest, brands are elevating their role in social change conversations seen through their messaging, advertising, and products.
Get Prepared for Prime Day 2021
1. Review Prime Day 2020 event performance to understand the impact of traffic and conversion rates vs. prior period average. Utilize these increase assumptions to build your budget and media plan. Across Ovative clients last year we saw:
Facebook Paid Social costs increased 30-40%, and with a 39% higher CVR (Conversion Rate) drove a 4% increase in ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) for Ovative clients during Prime Day 2020 compared to prior period average.1
Google Paid Search costs increased 15%, however a 68% drop in CVR led to a 61% decrease in ROAS for Ovative clients during Prime Day 2020 compared to prior period average.1
2. Promote your best deals ahead of the event, starting to advertise promotions the week before. Ensure that creative and copy explicitly call out the deal or promotion. Even if you are not officially participating, your products are likely to benefit from increased traffic and higher conversion rates during the event. A well-timed and well-advertised sale can help you take advantage of increased consumer shopping.
- Test Carousel Ads using Reach Objective, Broad Demos and Lookalikes of Purchasers leading up to the event to generate awareness
- Use video ads, carousel ads, collection ads, and dynamic ads with traffic objectives during the event to maximize site visits
Ads on Amazon:
- Protect your product pages and brand search terms from other advertisers by running Sponsored Products and Sponsored Display on your own keywords and listings
- Target competitive or complementary products in your advertising to “draft” off your competition and take advantage of elevated traffic levels
- Take advantage of “Views Remarketing” in your Sponsored Display advertising to get in front of previous visitors to your product pages during and after Prime Day
- Ensure all your top listings and keywords search ranking are dominated by your products and not your competitors
- Ramp up top-performing Product List Ads (PLA), non-brand, and local campaigns. Increase investment in competitor categories
- Amplify “Deals” and “Free Shipping” in ad copy
- Execute volume testing in preparation for increased traffic levels
- Emphasize products across the site that deliver a high marginal return for your business
- Ensure product pages are optimized with promotional messaging, strong titles, and rich content to improve ability to rank in SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Feature BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up in Store) and other omni-channel services (e.g. curbside pickup, store locator) clearly onsite and in messaging so consumers can choose how they want to shop
- Share your promotional schedule, key product deals, and goals with Affiliate partners in advance of the Prime Day event to be included in cash back and loyalty deals
3. Build a flexible budget and then plan to monitor performance intra-day because being able to hit the gas or the brakes in the middle of an event is a huge competitive advantage. For example: Advertising revenue and Orders typically lag in Amazon’s ad interface (a $2.00 ROAS at noon, might end up being a $5.00 ROAS by the next day). It is critical to understand what this lag looks like for your business, so capture this data now at regular intervals throughout the day so you can adjust what you are seeing real-time on the day of the event for expected performance.
Proactively build a turnaround plan including alternative messaging, creative, or promotional levers that can be pulled during the event if performance warrants a shift.
To win this Prime Day event, marketers must understand the differences they will face this year, adjust learnings from prior events, and build an agile budget and plan that can be adjusted leading up to and during the event. As more information is announced about Amazon’s Prime Day event, we will share additional recommendations for planning and tactical platform strategies.
Ovative is a digital-first media and measurement firm seeking to transform the measure of marketing success. At Ovative, we help brands move the needle. We are curious. We value your brand. We want to see you succeed. Connect with us to learn more!
 NYTimes, 2021
 eMarketer, 2021