Amazon has deftly engineered a swift volte-face after nearly shooting itself in the foot over the launch of the new Kindle Fire HD: purchasers will now be given the option of declining ads after all.
The e‑commerce giant confirmed late last week that ads would be displayed on the Kindle HD’s lock screen without giving customers the option of declining them.
Marketing coup or a farce?
It doesn’t take a high-flying e‑commerce analyst or senior e‑commerce manager to tell that this was a seriously flawed strategy: as Business Insider journalist Steve Kovach observed, compulsory full color, media-rich ads are far more obtrusive than the ads on the black-and-white Kindle, which he considered a “small price to pay” for a low-cost e‑reader. But in a product aimed at rivaling the iPad, it seems like an act of self-sabotage.
Commenting on the situation Kovach wrote: “I guarantee locking users into a forced ad-viewing experience is going to ruffle a lot of feathers, especially since Amazon’s policy with other devices allows the customers to opt out.”
Could this be a promising coup turning to farce before it’s really begun? Not many products can reach the sky in a lead balloon. The product is promoted as being good value for the price tag, as an article in the Wall Street Journal suggests. For a slightly lower spec profile, the Fire HD starts at $199 compared to Apple’s $399 bottom dollar.
A timely U‑turn
Thankfully, Amazon appears to have responded swiftly to the chorus of protest that greeted its compulsory ad announcement. In a statement issued on September 9th, the company announced a pragmatic U‑turn:
“I wanted to let you know that with Kindle Fire HD there will be a special offers opt-out option for $15. We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out. We’re happy to offer customers the choice.”
Whilst it’s true to say that many Amazon customers didn’t bother with the opt-out before, not being given the choice could have had a commercial impact beyond the immediate campaign. In the nick of time, it seems that Amazon has recovered its instinct to make as many of its customers as happy as possible — but it nearly stamped on their toes and twisted their noses when it needed to place a friendly arm around their shoulders.