Political Events Result in Rocky January Performance for Amazon Advertisers

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By Andy Taylor

January 2021 came and went with no shortage of historically significant events, as US citizens were gripped by tragedy and political drama on each of the first three Wednesdays of the year. First came the capitol riots of January 6, followed by the US House of Representative’s vote to impeach the president on January 13, and capped off with an historic inauguration on January 20.

As we noted around Election Day, significant events such as these can grip the focus of consumers to such an extent that ecommerce sales decline temporarily as a result. This appears to have been the case with the events of January, as each of these Wednesdays brought meaningful dips in sales attributed to Amazon Sponsored Products.

Here’s what advertisers should know.


Dips in Sales Growth Caused by Declining Click Volume


The chart below features year-over-year growth in sales attributed to Amazon US Sponsored Products, with days lined up against the same day of week last year. Put a different way, January 1, 2021 year over year growth is calculated against January 3, 2020, as that was the first Friday of 2020. This helps to account for day-of-week shifts that many advertisers regularly see.

As you can see, sales growth dipped meaningfully on all three of the first three Wednesdays of the month, coinciding with the events mentioned previously. The only day of the month in which sales attributed to Sponsored Products declined year over year came on Inauguration Day, falling 1%.



These dips were caused primarily by declines in click volume, as conversion rate and sales per click held roughly steady throughout the course of the month, with clicks and sales rebounding on the weekends. All of this aligns with how performance shifted during election week last November, with consumers seemingly preoccupied by the news of the day and less likely to be searching for products.


How Should Advertisers Think About Events Like These?


As we head into February, there are fewer scheduled political events in the foreseeable future than there have been over the last year, but the events of January 6 and 13 show that hugely important moments can materialize in unforeseen ways.

For advertisers, it’s important to stay on top of current events to understand when temporary lulls in performance might be the result of variables that are out of your control. These dips are typically followed by rebounds in performance as consumers fall back into regular purchase habits, and brands shouldn’t be overly concerned with one or two day lags in performance.

Another thing to keep in mind is to take a look at growth figures with a couple of different lenses. For example, looking at year-over-year growth by date, January 20 sales declined 6% year over year in 2021, but lining January 20, 2021 sales up against the third Wednesday of 2020 (January 22) showed sales decline of only 1%. Taking care to account for things like day of week performance shifts can help you better understand what’s happening in your campaigns and quantify the impact.

2021 is already off to an eventful start, and it appears marketers will have to continue to stay on their toes as we move further into the year.


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