Amazon’s moment of media reinvention
Suppose that Amazon goes ahead with its intention to create a TV channel. So what?
Imagine this: a medium that delivers entertainment, marketing and customisation – with fulfilment. All of that aligned very tightly with customer preferences and data that maximise the efficiency of retail. And it’s global.
Aside from a very few countries, US popular entertainment is already global, even in markets where people need to learn to comprehend the language. Amazon is already global. So its plan does not demand a huge change in consumer behaviour, rather a change in content distribution strategies and continuing improvement in household bandwidth and data cost.
In a way, Jeff Bezos might be inspired by the origins of media advertising in which consumer brands were built by sponsoring popular content, like The Palmolive Hour on NBC.
Of course Amazon might be simply reinventing the TV channel, on a global scale. But in this it has the means to offer wide variety and demographic separations that go far beyond anything incumbent TV has ever achieved. Plus it has a price point for base subscriptions that provides a great deal of leverage in acquiring content.
With this entertainment/marketing plan in view, Bezos’ experiment with The Washington Post also fits. Bezos can safely assume that people will always want a reliable, independent news source and that, like entertainment, has demographic characteristics that might well add more beef to Amazon’s retail performance. In any case, it boosts the Amazon Plus subscription package my another dimension.
Investors have twisted themselves in all sorts of pretzel shapes in trying to justify Bezos’ commitment to investment ahead of profit. At this point, it’s really a punt in the dark as Bezos has never really explained where he is headed.
It’s now clearer, however, that he’s going far deeper and wider than anyone might have imagined. You only have to think of how powerful dominant retailers and dominant media channels have been on the traditional scale to imagine how effective and influential Amazon might become.
Media, in its old form, might well be dead. Bezos might be inventing its Phoenix.