NEW YORK – Despite the fact that Amazon does not sell cars, its “Thursday Night Football” programming has proven to be a good platform for Mercedes-Benz’s electric vehicle advertising campaign, said Monique Harrison, head of brand marketing at Mercedes-Benz. United States, during an Ad Week panel on Tuesday. According to the executive, having a partner with first-party customer data will only grow in importance as the consumer becomes more complex.
“I can tell you that for us it’s more important today because we’re transitioning from the typical gas-powered vehicles we know today to the electric world,” Harrison said. “But, we’re all new, aren’t we?” And we guess to some extent who is ready for it. But we can use the data that [Amazon] can provide us…and target exactly the right customer at exactly the right time.
Other leaders on the panel were: Danielle Carney, head of NFL sales at Amazon Ads; Michael Smith, news analyst for Thursday Night Football on Prime Video; and Jeremy Carey, Chief Investment Officer at Optimum Sports. The group discussed what Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” lineup could mean for the sports advertising industry, even for brands not traditionally associated with the e-commerce platform.
Launch a new era
Amazon’s early “Thursday Night Football” viewership numbers suggest the future of sports viewing has life beyond cable TV, despite it being one of the last holdouts in the chain. When Prime premiered on Sept. 15, which saw the Kansas City Chiefs earn a win over the Los Angeles Chargers, 13 million people were streaming the game at any given minute, according to Amazon’s Carney Ads, who moderated the panel. She predicted that, by 2026, more than 132 million people will consume sports through digital channels alone, a seismic shift from a traditional linear television presence.
Amazon’s feed has proven very popular with people between the ages of 18 and 45, a cohort highly sought after by marketing professionals. An analysis of the first four broadcasts on the platform by Nielsen found that the games averaged 2.6 million viewers from this demographic, a 67% increase from the previous year. Additionally, people between the ages of 18 and 34 made up 24% of the viewership, compared to just 14% of the NFL’s television audience.
“What scares us as marketers in the live sports space is how much consumption at a younger age is happening through digital and social means,” said Carey of Optimum. Sports. “So getting some of that back is incredibly appealing to us as marketers and as agents.”
The young audience is what drew Mercedes-Benz to the games on Amazon, enough for the automaker to sponsor the first halftime show. The company has chosen to take the opportunity to highlight its range of electric vehicles. The state-of-the-art football stream seemed like a good opportunity to showcase the 2023 EQS SUV, by Harrison.
A hastily produced ad featured famed sportscaster and host Charissa Thompson driving the vehicle. During the panel, Harrison recounted a series of dramatic events that led to the commercial being produced on time considering how the cars were made in Birmingham, AL, and filming took place in Atlanta, GA. .
“We had to make sure we had electric vehicles front and center,” Harrison said. “We literally had these vehicles on the road, uncertified, without license plates, the car rushing down the freeway towards Atlanta to make sure we got there in time for this shoot.”
Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” experience is already expanding, with the streamer recently announcing that it will host the first-ever Black Friday game, slated to launch in 2023. Panelists touched on this, as well as how they would like Amazon to develop in the coming seasons.
Amazon’s tracking technology has the potential to give brands a solid view of consumers, and the possibility of buyable ads seemed to be more a matter of when, not if, according to the panel. Additionally, Smith discussed the possibility of adding more sports to Prime’s live streaming platform in the future, such as the NBA, which Amazon recently entered into a multi-year broadcast rights deal with in Brazil.
“Bring NBA rights, bring college football,” Smith said. “Bring more live sports rights.”