Today's a special day – it's Amazon Prime Day. And given there are now more than 100 million Prime subscribers all over the world, it will be interesting to note how normal patterns get thrown off all day.
Will retail sales be consistent with a normal Monday in July? Will traffic patterns be the same as usual? And will radio listening be impacted? (That would be an interesting breakout for our friends at Nielsen to look into.)
We learned in our 2018 Techsurvey just how powerful online shopping has become.
Not only did four in ten respondents say that all or most of their holiday shopping was conducted online this past shopping season, Millennials are the most dialed into e-commerce. But overall, online shopping is consistently solid across most demographic groups.
Prime Day is more than just a one-day sale with blue tags placed all over the Amazon website. It's pinned to data, research, and results the company has aggregated over the years about precisely what moves the needle for online sales. And it strategically reflects the changing ways in which Amazon has altered shopping. Brands have inherent strengths, and in Amazon's case, they're leveraging a habit and behavior they've helped create.
Thus, there's no reason to expect a puny turnout on Prime Day today. While it's not entirely clear how much money Amazon actually rakes in on these events, estimates run as robust as $2 billion – a true disruptor to not only retail business, but other activities. Maybe that's why more stores and companies will be running “Black Friday In July” sales today.
CNN Money's Nathaniel Meyersohn says predictions for this year's “take” could be as high as $3.4 billion. That's one of the beauties of Prime Day – it gets bigger and better every year. It starts at 3pm ET today and now runs an extended 36 hours. The other new hook is the incorporation of Whole Foods in the Prime Day program.
Prime Day is fascinating in that it shows the ability of a brand with a “high cume” to literally seize the day. And while it may be fun to shop on Amazon most days, there's something very special about Prime Day. There's an urgency to the deals, there's a whole lot of them to choose from, and the sense that everyone can save on something.
Meyersohn reports Prime Day is a “cume builder,” ultimately attracting more shoppers to the already massive $119 a year annual shopping platform (yes, Amazon wisely raised its membership fee from $99 back in May).
At it's core, the secret to Prime Day is that it's all about making something special out of nothing. Why is Prime Day today in the middle of July? Why not? It's a great excuse at about the midpoint of the year (opposite the Christmas holidays) to make a lot of noise – and even more money – for this fast-growing e-commerce platform.
Broadcast radio needs to think along the same lines – breaking the mundane routine to craft tactical, programming and stunts – OK, maybe special days – that capture the imagination of a market and a station's audience. We're talking about days, events, even weekends that have that “must listen” sense.
And these can be done in a “PPM-friendly” manner, despite so many opinions to the contrary. I think about day-long stunts that a number of our clients stations pull off – successfully – each year.
KSHE in St. Louis has long presented “95 Day” on the 95th day of the new year, with themed giveaways and features throughout the day. And wouldn't you know it, “95 Day” serendipitously right smack at the beginning of April – the start of the Cardinals season.
In most years, KSHE gives away 95 pairs of Cards tickets during the prime time hours. As long-time PD and KSHE visionary Rick Balis points out, “It's a natural promotion. Almost like making something fairly big out of nothing.” Similarly, 97Rock in Buffalo does something similar 48 hours later.
And in late October, WMGK in Philly presents “1029 Day” on October 29th – the station's birthday. The station typically plays “Birthday Blocks,” records listener birthday greeting, and makes the day a special one.
KISW has done it with its “Live Day” – a difficult to produce, bodacious day when the entire radio station – from its music to its commercials is literally performed live. We highlighted “Live Day” back in 2016 as part of our “Radio's Most Innovative” series, and you can check it out here.
As Entercom/Seattle's VP Programming & Operations, Dave Richards, explained at that time, It’s an expectation of the audience for us to do more than just play “Back in Black.”
“Live Day” was the right thing and a good thing for this brand. Maybe it’s the right thing for others, maybe not. Every station has a different strategy for success. They know the right thing for their audience. You pick your own poison.
“But for KISW, we have to try things. It’s evolve or die. We’re always looking for creative new ways to connect with the audience and create revenue opportunities. We’re in the entertainment business. If we aren’t entertaining the audience, we aren’t doing our jobs,” says Richards.
For Sacramento's KSEG, that's “Woodsquawk,” an annual all-day, on-air “fantasy concert” that's become an inside joke among station core listeners. Many still explain how they were once fooled into believing there was an actual festival somewhere in the Sacramento metro where The Eagle had magically put together a dream time lineup of rockers.
For 13 years now, “Woodsquawk” has taken place at the fictitious Keller Family Farm, named after iconic station personality, Bob Keller.
Using live albums and songs by station core artists – some of which don't exist anymore – along with the station's heritage airstaff broadcasting “on location,” backstage, and all over the “grounds,” The Eagle does pull off that “theater of the mind” event that generates buzz over a Memorial Day Weekend. You know the Eagle will hit a home run the year they figure out how to get the Killer Family Farm to show up on Google Maps.
Like Prime Day, these events become expectations, they connect with their audiences on a different level, they build brands, relieve the monotony, and they often generate results. Every station I've highlighted is routinely top 5 in their markets – month after month after month.
And similar to Amazon, they are bigger than life brands with high performance expectations among a loyal audience.
They give their audience reasons to perk up, take note, and tune in to a special day, custom manufactured out of sheer creativity – almost always without even denting the budget. And yes, for one day at least, they cater to the station's core fans.
Why not? Day in and day out, year in and year out, they're the people who drive loyalty and listenership.
What's your station's Prime Day?
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.