An Exciting Addition to Amazon’s Marketing Options in 2020, Where Should Amazon Live Go In 2021?


Amazon Live has huge potential... but has a lot of room to improve for brands to get a solid ROI from investment.

Amazon Live is a new program on Amazon that allows influencers and brands to live stream video on the Amazon website and have the videos featured on the product detail pages during the lives.

This is different from live streamed events, such as live streaming e-games or live sports. Amazon is also investing heavily in these areas, trying to compete with such companies as Disney/ESPN and grow their investment in Twitch, all around the world.

I have been working on live streaming for brands on Amazon since last September. I have gotten a couple dozen clients to “Insider” status, and helped them define and refine their marketing pitch through live selling. I have gotten a few clients to $1k+ sales per event, with up to 5% unmute rate on specific product types. 

While I think that this new offering from Amazon is hugely beneficial to sellers… I think that it is going to be beneficial in the future, but not at present. 

I’m getting our clients in at the ground level so we can take advantage of new features as they come out rather than playing catch up later, because we do believe that Amazon has demonstrated commitment to live selling, and live selling is so huge in other regions in the world that we know it can be huge.

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What do the job postings tell us about the planned future of Amazon Live in 2021?

One of the best ways to see where the company is going with a particular product offering is to see what kind of jobs are offered in support of those teams. The job postings for Amazon Live describe the program the following ways: 

The types of roles available include multiple engineering roles covering the app, interaction with the existing advertising systems; corporate counsel; UX designer; and principal roles (L7) at Amazon, a clear indication of the importance assigned to this project within the company.

We’re a V1 startup that leverages the communication potential of interactive streaming video to create new shopping experiences for customers. This is a strategic initiative for the company with strong buy-in from top management. 

You’ll partner closely with Mobile Shopping, Fire TV, Twitch, and Retail Tech teams.

Our team enables influencers and brands to connect with customers in relevant and engaging ways in selling products.

Amazon Live is one of the newest and fastest growing strategic programs at Amazon. We are creating an innovative real-time video shopping experience that integrates audience interactivity with live streaming video.

Amazon Live enables customers to discover new brands and products in a fun and engaging way, and to deepen their connection with brands they already love. We are looking for an experienced Designer to drive the visual storytelling that underpins our programming. 

Our global advertising platform provides low-latency systems for multiple advertising programs with large ad inventories. It supports both automated and advertiser-specified optimization controls and features particular integrations for using product data from across the entire Amazon catalog as a source of ad content.

You will build features that enable video ingestion, stream management and categorization in order to better serve our Amazon viewers with quality streams.

We are looking for a talented attorney for an Associate Corporate Counsel position supporting our Amazon Live and Video Shopping Experience content and product teams. Help create the future of product-focused digital entertainment with shoppable video content that entertains, informs and delights our customers.

Ultimately, our vision is to become the preferred destination for customers to discover and watch product videos. In order to create a world class video shopping experience, we need to scale our acquisition of video.

In this role, you will partner with multiple teams in Amazon to define, implement, and optimize programs that drive awareness, acquisition, and retention across influencers and selling partners. In this role you lead a broad range of initiatives such as programmatic email campaigns, webinars, participation in events (e.g. Vidcon), generation of education content for video creators, and collateral creation to be shared across Amazon retail teams.

So let’s break down what this could mean for their 2021 plan.

  • A V1 startup just means that the team hasn’t made any real money yet. Based on my experience with the site, that’s very true. We have gotten $1-2k in revenue from events with $200-400 in cost per thousand impressions. While that’s not terrible, it’s also not great, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to engage with those customers again. 
  • Partnering with Fire TV is a huge deal! Hopefully they can leverage the millions of Fire TV users (I am one) with Live streaming suggestions based on their previous search history. For example, if I am looking at bar soaps today, then getting vended a live stream ad showing a unique soap dish would be welcome.
  • The ability to connect influencers and brands and do joint events would be amazing. It’s difficult to get followers as a brand, because people aren’t as likely to seek you out and follow your Live events, unless you’re a very large brand they’re committed to already. 
  • The audience interactivity element leaves a LOT to be desired. It’s just a chat stream right now, and in one live, I had a user asking about what they should do if they were sharting. No, that’s not a typo. Because the live starts running without sound, viewers just aren’t as engaged or likely to chat. This means planning your lives to have inserts with captions, or various ways to get around not having people actual listening to you as you’re talking about the product. It’s also not clear how to use the discount code. Basically… starting it without sound, when a livestream demo/QVC/HSN style format really needs to be heard to be fully experienced and get the sales benefit, really makes it impossible to connect directly with customers. 
  • Discovering new brands is a great concept, but to discover them, customers already have to be on the Live section of the site, which is incredibly difficult to navigate from the mobile app. I would love to have the ability to use hashtags or search keywords so that the live can show up in the search results when customers are looking for products. The lives currently live in the equivalent of the back corner of the store, behind some storage boxes. People who make their way there usually are there on accident. 
  • I would very much appreciate more attention and effort being made on the advertising side. Right now, you pay for any/every eyeball. That’s very wasteful. Not only is your live potentially completely irrelevant to the few people currently watching, but it’s not connected to the customer experience in any other way either. ANY targeting here would be very welcome. Right now, I feel like it’s better to spend the majority of ad dollars on Facebook, where I can properly target, rather than wasting it on Amazon’s boosting feature.   
  • Having the goal of growing influencer and other video content based around products is great – knowing you can get unboxing content for products tagged to ASINs, or search for brand created content, or have a video with specific tags where you can fast forward to where that feature is discussed would make it more likely for customers to look for video content first on Amazon. Right now, it’s so difficult to find any influencer or brand created content unless you are just lucky that it’s not nearly as helpful as the job description seems to indicate they want it to be.  

What is Amazon Live currently missing that they could add to their roadmap?

Great question! Here’s the new features I would LIKE to have when working with Amazon Live. 

First, I’d like to be able to describe the live with relevant keywords that allow the video to be searched and watched by relevant customers, not just the customers present on the Live part of the site at that moment. I should be able to advertise against those keywords during the live event as well. 

Second, I’d like the user experience to default to being in sound, just like when you mouse over the video widget on the Amazon detail page. Not having sound makes it impossible to do live selling effectively for anything but beauty or clothes. 

When you click on a video, it pops up and plays with sound. And really, who doesn't want to listen to Marshawn read a bedtime story??

Third, I’d like it to be much more obvious to customers what the benefits are of following the brand. Right now, the follow button is quite small and no one knows why they should follow. I’ve gotten one brand to well over 300 followers without running any ads on or off Amazon, and we get pretty solid traffic without paying for impressions during the live events, but it’s taken months to get there organically. 

Fourth, I’d like a widget on the detail page that allows the customer to watch prior lives, and as the brand, I’d like to be able to select which ones to feature, whether our own lives, or an influencer’s live event. 

Fifth, please make running a promotion easier… I run a lot of lives, and having to plan four plus hours in advance to get the promotion running isn’t difficult, but it’s just one more point of friction. 

Sixth, I’d like to offer curated bundle options, like the new Lists feature being beta tested in Fashion. My clients’ products usually go well with specific other items on Amazon, such as one of our salsa clients being paired with various chips or dip bowls.  

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You’re full of feedback; what would a perfect future experience with Amazon Live look like?

With all of these features added, then you can have the perfect experience for the customer: 

My customer types in Mexican salsa into the search bar. After the banner ad, sponsored items, and a few organic results (minimum four), a boosted livestream shows up in a similar position to current ad videos, with the title, Authentic Mexican Salsa Flavors from a Mexican Chef.

The boosted livestream shows up because the brand owner bid on “Mexican salsa” as a keyword to get viewers. 

The customer is surprised to see a cooking demonstration with Mexican salsa, and clicks on the link to watch.

The sound automatically turns on, and they start to watch the show demonstrating how to use the Mexican salsa to make perfect tacos. 

The customer sees the overlay on the video showing the recipes the chef will be covering and that they can click to follow and get discounts and new recipe videos.

The customer clicks follow and then sees below the video are “Recommended for Mexican Salsa” and see a brightly painted chip bowl, a set of ceramic salsa dip bowls, blue corn chips, and a recipe book. 

The chef starts talking about a different flavor of salsa, and the customer sees that the featured item changes, and that it’s 15% off just during the live. They click on Add to Cart, and a pop up shows with, “Are you interested in any recommendations?” and shows an Add to Cart button next to the bows, chips, and book.

The customer thinks chips sound like a good addition, and add that to the cart as well. 

The customer has experienced an entertaining demonstration on how to use various flavors of the type of salsa they’re interested in, it was easy for them to select the product, and they were delighted to check out with the items they wanted.

What are your thoughts on Amazon Live?

Are you interested in partnering with an Amazon Agency to help you get your brand to Insider status and get new customers to fall in love with your brand and follow you so you can interact directly with your customers on Amazon?

The opportunity here is enticing… if Amazon can get it right.

Want to learn more about how Amazon Live can add value to your Amazon business?

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About the Author
Rachel Johnson Greer is a global business strategist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs increase their internet product sales, curate their brand image online and avoid catastrophic legal threats. After getting her MBA in international business at Seattle University, she spent nearly a decade at Amazon working in product development. Since then, Rachel has founded companies that reached both multi-six figure and multi-seven figure growth in under three years.

As a business coach, she supports clients in everything from international product expansion to 4x-ing their sales through online retailers. Rachel is frequently sought out by the media and has appeared on the Today Show, CNBC, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. When she’s not working with clients, she’s scaring friends at parties with stories about the most problematic online products she’s found in their homes. She lives in Seattle, Washington.