Looking to the next Prime Day and return on attention

What moves can Amazon make to improve how it converts consumer attention into revenue? And what role will Alexa play going forward? Brent Leary speculates on Prime Day's Attention "Echosystem."
Written by Brent Leary, Contributor

Video: Amazon's Prime Day puts voice everywhere

Since we're in the midst of Prime Day 2018, I'm in standby mode waiting to see the numbers. So, I guess I'm forced to think ahead to next year, because things move pretty fast with these guys.

Must read: Amazon Prime Day deals: Smart office devices and business tools

It easy to forget Amazon Prime Day started as a way to mark the company's 20th birthday. Many thought the deals offered that first year were the equivalent to a digital garage sale... and not even a good one, as many people called most of the stuff on sale "leftovers" and "junk." I don't remember a lot of commercials running either, as maybe a handful of media/industry outlets paid serious attention to it. Their big rivals in e-commerce and retail for the most part played the day off as marketing gimmick. But after the sales numbers came in for the day, that all changed.

Now, Prime Day is way more than a bad digital garage sale. Amazon retail competitors are having to react in all sorts of ways to what is now one of the most high-profile online shopping days on the calendar. So high-profile that now most of the biggest online news/technology sites have dedicated tons of coverage to it. I mean even when I was channel flipping on Friday not only was I met with a bunch of Prime Day commercials, but Good Morning America did an entire segment about it.

Because of the impact Prime Day now has on our collective attention (and dollars), it's hard to believe it started just three years ago... just like it's hard to believe Alexa has only been around for a little over three years. Amazon has used Prime and Alexa as a way to create a return on attention (ROA) -- the likes we've seldom seen before. And Prime Day is the showcase for the Attention "Echosystem" (yes, pun intended) from a variety of perspectives. So, since we're in the midst of the Prime Day frenzy and waiting for the results press release to come later this week, I'm already starting to think about the ways Amazon could fine tune its AE machine to increase the ROA in the near future.

Improving Return on Attention with Amazon Live TV?

According to Amazon, the company is guided by four principles: Customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking.

Read also: When is Amazon Prime Day 2018? (CNET)

Looking at that first one, if there's anything that customers are obsessed with today, it's content, which is why I wouldn't be surprised if we see Amazon Live TV sooner rather than later. Because a live TV service -- like what Google, Hulu, DirecTV Now, and others offer -- would be a great complement to Prime Video. Prime and Primetime could add membership and more attention and provide more attention-to-transaction opportunities in the long run. I'd go for it, because, as a current DirecTV Now customer, I'd love a live TV option that has a better integration with Alexa. And Amazon can bundle it with Prime and offer it at a discount, just like AT&T offers DTV Now for $10 a month for unlimited wireless customers.

Converting Subscriptions to Attention

Speaking of bundling services, some of the best deals currently going are on Amazon's other content services, like Kindle Unlimited, Audible, and Amazon Music. Once again, these deals are designed to attract new Prime members, and gain more of the consumer's attention in order to convert that into more subscription revenues.

Read also: How to make the most of Amazon Prime Day (TechRepublic)

According to research from NPR, Echo owners are listening to more audio, including podcasts. This fits right into the Attention Echosystem and ROA strategy that seems to be in play here. Come to think of it, you could see a Prime-flavored subscription for PillPack coming, too, with Alexa reminding you to take your pills. Dare I bring this up, but there is even speculation around Amazon getting into the cannabis business. Just think about the ramifications of that as a new Prime offering.

Amazon Prime Day 2018: The top US deals in tech

As of July 1, the State of Georgia implemented a new "hands free" law that makes it illegal to hold your phone while driving. As you can imagine, dashboard phone mounts were flying off the shelves -- digitally and otherwise. OK, I bought one, too, but I went even further: I bought a Roav Viva, which is an Alexa-enabled, two-port USB car charger that allows you to stay hands-free while asking Alexa to make calls, stream music, and ask for directions. I'm guessing as important as getting and keeping attention is in the home, it's just as important in another place folks spend their time -- the car. And I can definitely see a big move (via acquisition or homegrown invention) to get Alexa into Prime members cars in a big way in the not-too-distant future.

Reviews and Recommendations

OK, maybe some of the stuff above is a bit out there. But you can't overestimate the importance of customer ratings, reviews, and recommendations on what people decide to buy. And it's that importance which is driving all kinds of shenanigans trying to get five-star ratings and reviews.

Read also: What is Amazon Prime? (CNET)

To get an in-depth look at just how far sellers are willing to go to get customer reviews (or what appear to be reviews from customers), you might want to check out this episode from the Reply All podcast. It is a real eye-opener. And there's a real threat to the integrity of reviews going on that Amazon has to deal with to prevent more stories like people getting deliveries to their houses that they didn't order.

There's a lot at stake as people ask Alexa more and more about what to buy, and how much transparency they will have regarding why the response they received was made. Because if they can't trust that Alexa will provide the best recommendations possible based on valid reviews and other available data, lost trust will lead to lost attention and lost transactions. And it's better to address this now while it's still early days.

Anyways, I can't wait for Prime Day to wrap up so we can get into the real fun of the holiday -- analyzing the numbers. But, in the meantime, I'll be on the lookout for that Amazon Live TV package, and asking Alexa to order some more pills... or something else.

Amazon Prime Day: Business tech deals you shouldn't miss


ZDNet has round-ups of amazing early deals you can get now and even anti-Prime Day deals. Check out our top Prime Day deal guides for more information:


CNET, our sister site, has also covered all the best Prime Day tech deals, by category:

  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Smartphones and mobile - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Storage, SSD and flash drives - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Headphones and audio - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: TVs and home video - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Smart home - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Kitchen and appliances - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Laptops, PCs, chromebooks and tablets - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Video games and gaming - CNET
  • Best Prime Day 2018 deals: Smartwatches and fitness trackers - CNET
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