How Amazon's data trove gives Prime Video an edge in marketing shows
In an interview with Marketing Dive, Amazon Studios' head of marketing discusses how the platform breaks through in a crowded marketplace
Amazon has one of the biggest databases in the digital business, and Prime Video benefits from this proprietary data through a deep understanding of customer preferences, something that gives the platform a marketing edge over traditional television and even other streaming services.
When Amazon Prime launched its first season of The Grand Tour last year, the show was rolled out in five territories and eventually expanded into more than 240 territories globally throughout the year. After a good reception, the company rolled out a second season this month with a launch that was global from the start. And while the show initially targeted a 35-to-49-year-old male audience in season one, the data revealed a surprise: a younger male audience also loved the show. This year, Amazon expanded its target audience to encompass a larger demographic and put together a far-reaching marketing campaign that includes custom video for fans, key media partnerships and event sponsorship.
"Amazon is a very different platform from any other broadcast network or streaming service, for that matter, and a lot of that has to do with the customers that we've got and our ability to reach those customers," Michael Benson, head of marketing at Amazon Studios, told Marketing Dive. "We've got a lot of data that allows us to understand who has the propensity to watch the show based on their viewing habits and purchase data."
The data advantage
Data allows Amazon to be very targeted when reaching audiences it thinks will have an interest in a program. Personalization and targeting are key factors when it pushes messaging to promote its TV shows.
"Relevance is really important for our customers," Benson said. "We don't want to market something to them that we don't believe will be relevant or of interest — that's just a waste of their time."
The goal of this year's campaign for The Grand Tour is to grow the show's viewership. While Amazon wouldn't share specific campaign metrics or numbers, Benson said that the marketing team was pleased with initial results following the premiere on Dec. 8. The executive revealed that the company uses a variety of different tracking services, as well as its own proprietary tools to measure campaign effectiveness. Some metrics tracked include awareness and intent-to-view.
Painting broad strokes
In addition to using data, Amazon Prime also creates campaigns aimed at engaging consumers in interactive ways by bringing fans into the show. These activations are pushed out to a wider audience, giving it a more broadcast, mass marketing format. For instance, The Grand Tour has developed a custom video for its Slow Mo Guys fan pages (which have 10 million fans) that will challenge resident "slowmo-ers" to send different cars flying using a wrecking ball.
The Grand Tour has also teamed up with Buzzfeed to develop a three-part video series called "The Sh*tty Grand Tour," in which the stars of The Try Guys, a comedy video series from Buzzfeed, will take on different challenges from the show and compete for the championship. Each video will include a mention in the opening monologue pushing the Prime Video show, as well as highlight clips. In addition, The Grand Tour will have a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day.
The strategy this year even included teaming up with Twitch, another Amazon-owned platform, to reach its audience of gamers through an exclusive event, "Battle Cars," that featured a life-size game board and pitted Twitch influencers against one another.
At the Automobility LA show, Amazon and Beck Media put together The Grand Tour Mayhem Hall Pub and are planning to repeat the live experience at the Detroit Auto Show.
"It's this combination of using big broad media in a way that allows us to get the reach that we need, but also integrating our own platform and channels to super target customers that have interest, and also these activations that we create to deepen engagement and hopefully drive word-of-mouth for the show," Benson said.
Getting creative with the creative
Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to get people to watch new shows, according to Benson, who added that it takes creativity to stir these conversations. The most creative thing marketers can do is promote something to someone who doesn't realize that they're actually being marketed to, Benson said.
For instance, Amazon Prime sponsored a drone racing league to promote The Grand Tour, dropping clips from the show into the live event stream. The company also recreated the classic American drive-in both in old drive-in locations and hosted car shows and film screenings. Clips from the show were played at screenings of classic movies, such as "The Italian Job," at these events.
"It's not just the creative that you're putting up per se, it's how you're using media and events and what you're doing to get people to notice who and what you're all about," Benson said. "This is really the trick and it's difficult because there is a lot of content out there. Some shows are easier than others. But you've just got to find ways to continue to push creativity through everything that you do."