With over nine million marketplace sellers across Amazon, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to stand out—even as today’s consumers shop online more every day. And if you’re not actively engaging and re-engaging your potential customers, your competitors will be.
The good news? Advertising to the audiences available within the Amazon Demand-Side Platform (DSP) can help increase your brand awareness both on and off Amazon, reaching new and existing audiences. Through Amazon’s DSP, you can keep your brand messaging consistent with a full-funnel strategy. And its capabilities are only amplified when leveraging it in conjunction with Amazon Marketing Cloud.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is the Amazon Demand Side Platform (DSP)?
- Amazon DSP vs. Sponsored Display
- How Much Does Amazon DSP Cost?
- Who Can Use Amazon DSP?
- Features & Benefits of Amazon DSP
- Leveraging customer data to target shoppers
- Where Does Amazon DSP Fit into the Marketing Funnel?
- Amazon DSP Ad Types
- How to Use Amazon DSP
- Using Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) with Amazon DSP
- Amazon DSP Success Story: R+Co
- Amazon Marketing Cloud Case Study: Poppi
What is the Amazon Demand Side Platform (DSP)?
Amazon DSP — also known as the Amazon Demand-Side Platform — enables advertisers to programmatically buy video, audio, and display ad placements, using available data to target consumers on and off of Amazon.
Advertisers are increasing investment in Amazon DSP, which allows brands to use Amazon’s incredible targeting capabilities in showing ads not only on Amazon owned-and-operated web properties, but also those that it does not control.
You can use Amazon DSP to reach audiences on:
- Amazon website
- Fire TV
- Freedive (IMDb Streaming)
- Published Partners
- Third Party Exchanges
- Digital Signage Ads
Looking at recent data from Tinuiti’s Q3 2022 Amazon Ads Benchmark Report, investment in DSP was on the rise QoQ thanks in part to the video capabilities of DSP, and an overall investment increase to boost Prime Day sales.
The report found:
- Outside of the Ad Console, advertisers also ramped up investment in the Amazon Demand-Side Platform (DSP) in Q3, with spend growth soaring from 11% in Q2 to 35% in Q3. Prime Day was a key reason for the acceleration, as brands not only spent big during the event, but also advertised more in the leadup to Prime Day to build awareness and consideration, as well as after the sale in order to retarget shoppers
- Video continues to become a more important part of advertiser investment in the Amazon DSP, with spend share attributed to video ads up from 5% in Q1 2022 to 9% in Q3 2022. The share of spend attributed to connected televisions has also increased throughout the year, up from 4% in Q1 to 6% in Q3
- In Q3 2022, 58% of Amazon DSP spend and 46% of impressions went to properties owned and operated by Amazon, including the primary Amazon website and app as well as other sites like IMDb
New & Notable Updates to Amazon DSP—Twitch Display Inventory
As with all things Amazon, they are continually working to improve and expand the options for the DSP. Although Twitch audiences have been available within the AMZ DSP for a while, Twitch display inventory is a more recent addition that just dropped in December 2022.
As noted in Amazon’s announcement, “advertisers can incorporate Twitch into their web display campaigns as non-guaranteed open auction inventory,” which includes Twitch’s Stream Display and Standard Display ad inventory.
- Stream Display: These 728×90 ad creative units display below Twitch’s video player
- Standard Display: These 728×90 and 300×250 ad units are served on Twitch browse pages
Twitch content and usage is only continuing to grow, meaning there is a large and expanding audience available to target. Audiences can be built within the AMZ DSP from Twitch streaming content to engage with users based on channels, genres, and games with a 30-day lookback window.
As Stuart Dooley, Sr. Manager, Marketplaces at Tinuiti shared in his top takeaways from Amazon unBoxed 2022:
“Amazon continues to grow the Twitch audience—and the reach that Twitch has—making it an important avenue to consider adding to your marketing mix, helping ensure the right advertisers are being served to the right audience at the right time and location.”
Amazon DSP vs. Sponsored Display
Most brands using Amazon DSP are also running full-funnel Sponsored Ads campaigns, to include Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Display. While DSP and Sponsored Display share some similarities, they function differently, and can help in achieving complementary goals.
Key similarities and differences include:
- Placements: Both DSP and Sponsored Display ads can reach prospective customers through display advertising, on and off Amazon. Where DSP gains an edge is in its more advanced custom creative capabilities and available placements. In addition to display ads, video and audio placements are also part of DSP, helping you reach the widest potential audience
- Pricing Model: Amazon DSP ad costs are based on a CPM model (cost per 1K impressions). While CPM is an option for Sponsored Display ads, these are typically run on a cost-per-click (CPC) model. This makes sense considering many DSP ads (ie. audio ads) aren’t clickable, but serve an important role in building awareness
- Availability: Amazon DSP can be used by brands selling on Amazon, as well as brands who aren’t selling on Amazon, but who want to leverage Amazon insights in their targeting. Sponsored Display ads are only available to Amazon sellers and vendors. That said, SD presents an incredible opportunity for advertisers to access Amazon’s valuable display inventory without the higher requirements of DSP
- Where Ads Direct Shoppers: Sponsored Display ads can only be set to direct to pages on Amazon.com. DSP ads, however, can lead prospective customers to pages on Amazon.com, or their own brand website
How Much Does Amazon DSP Cost?
Amazon DSP is available as a managed or self-service option, with ad costs varying by ad format and placement. As noted by Amazon, the managed DSP option, which is handled by Amazon’s internal team, “typically requires a minimum spend of $50,000 USD.” With this minimum in mind, many advertisers choose the self-service DSP route.
Self-Service DSP Requires an Agency Partner
It’s important to note that unlike Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, or Sponsored Display ads, leveraging DSP requires that you work with an Amazon Ads Agency Partner like Tinuiti. This makes them less fully self-service than other ad types that brands can opt to run on their own or through an agency, but doesn’t require the hefty minimum spend of having Amazon manage your DSP campaigns.
Who Can Use Amazon DSP?
Amazon DSP is available to brands who sell products on Amazon (vendors and third-party sellers), as well as those who don’t sell on the platform. It is currently available in more than a dozen countries, including the US, Canada, and Mexico in North America.
Amazon DSP is best for brands who want to:
- Programmatically buy display, audio & video ads at scale
- Expand their customer reach beyond by utilizing Amazon audiences and placements
- Leverage Amazon Audiences, but cannot sell their product through Amazon
Features & Benefits of Amazon DSP
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to have any marketing conversation without a primary topic being first-party data. By now, we all understand the importance and value of privacy-compliant 1P data, and are always looking for new ways to both collect and leverage it. And as for which retailers have the largest quality and sheer quantity of first-party data to work with, Amazon is very high on the list.
‘Amazon Shoppers’ is probably as close to ‘everyone’ as it gets in advertising.
DSP enables advertisers to reliably reach their desired audience among Amazon shoppers—both on Amazon, and off—thanks to Amazon’s wealth of shopper data and targeting features. Advertisers can target Amazon shoppers based on key demographics, interests, shopping behaviors, specific geos, and more. Who is included in ‘Amazon’s shoppers?’ Just about everyone reading this.
According to stats shared by Amazon, they have 300+ million active customer accounts, and “Amazon Advertising reaches 96% of all U.S. adults ages 25-54 every month.”
Leveraging customer data to target shoppers
Amazon offers audience insights to help advertisers understand their audience based on:
- Demographic trends
- Temporal trends
- Brand engagement
With this information, you can add demographic targeting into your upper-funnel strategies, such as targeting a specific age group. This can be especially helpful if you have a limited budget and need to limit your audience reach.
Prospecting with DSP audiences
There are two different ways to use audiences on DSP:
1. Advertiser Audience (aka using your company’s first-party data)
This is a great choice if you already have a lot of data on your customers and prospects. By using pixels, DMP audience transfers, and/or CRM data, you can reach Amazon customers who have already engaged with your brand.
For example, you can:
- Upload a list of customer or prospect emails into DSP and run a targeting strategy off of that audience
- If you place a pixel on your site for retargeting, you can also create a lookalike audience based off of that pixel
2. Amazon Audiences
Amazon’s Audience Solutions let you target audiences based on demographic information—including age, income, or education level—as well as their interests and behaviors.
For behavioral targeting campaigns, Amazon Audiences segments include:
- Lifestyle segments that reflect broad interest groups (such as homeowners)
- In-market segments based on what customers have recently searched for or browsed
- Retargeting segments made up of Amazon shoppers who have viewed but not purchased your products
Conquesting campaigns can even be leveraged by targeting customers looking at competitor ASINs/products.
Amazon Audiences is one of the biggest benefits of using Amazon’s DSP. Using audience insights helps you understand how and when your audience shops, which in turn makes it easier for you to build out retargeting campaigns based on your audience’s data and behavior.
Amazon DSP enables brands to target a wider range of potential customers referred to as “in-market” or “lifestyle” shoppers.
In-market Audiences are leveraged to reach customers who are most likely to take action or make a purchase based on their search, browse, or purchase behavior in the past 30 days.
Examples might include shoppers who recently perused or purchased:
- “Nutrition Bars”
- “Baby Apparel”
Lifestyle audiences reflect broader interest groups. Advertisers can reach lifestyle audiences to plant their brand in the minds of shoppers who have regularly shopped for related products in the past year.
Examples might include targeting:
- “Harry Potter Fans”
- “Pet Lovers”
Custom Audience Building
The ability to build custom audiences in DSP is another major distinguishing factor from Sponsored Display. Advertisers can target an array of unique audiences based on available shopper data. This can include audiences based on how shoppers have interacted with your brand, or their behavior in regard to products related to yours on Amazon.
DSP also gives advertisers the opportunity to reach audiences based on very specific behavior. For example, in October 2021, Amazon DSP launched the ability to Create custom-built audiences using Store interactions. And in November 2021, Amazon Ads launched their first “physical store signal” in the DSP, enabling US advertisers to Create custom-built audiences using Whole Foods Market physical store purchases. Think of how these audiences might benefit your brand, and what ASINs you’d want to include in campaigns for each.
Creating custom audiences gives advertisers a chance to really dive into the data, and strategically experiment with new audiences based on their findings. This is where experience and expertise come into play, helping to spot opportunities and unique angles to approach them.
Brands can use DSP to re-engage shoppers that have high purchase intent for your products in a few ways, retargeting shoppers who:
- Pixel-based – Visit your brand’s site
- Product view remarketing – Viewed a product detail page of selected ASINs
- Product purchase remarketing – Purchased selected product(s)
- Similar product remarketing – Browse products similar to yours
- Subscribe and Save – Targeting consumers who have active subscribe and save for selected product(s)
Where Does Amazon DSP Fit into the Marketing Funnel?
Through Amazon DSP, you can programmatically reach your audiences across both Amazon’s own sites and apps (like IMDb) and leading publishers’ sites. Here’s how Amazon ads fit throughout the funnel:
Ad Console campaigns mostly cover the mid- to low portion of the funnel. These campaigns work towards driving purchases, while DSP works throughout the whole advertising funnel from awareness to purchase. Having the capability to retarget customers through DSP keeps your brand top-of-mind for prospects and previous customers.
In this post, we’ll focus specifically on the mid-and upper-funnel advertising strategy: the consideration and awareness buckets. The targeting strategies we’ll cover work for businesses that sell both on and off Amazon. These upper-funnel campaigns will ultimately help you fill your retargeting campaigns and grow the number of people you target at the bottom of the funnel.
“When advertisers see a retargeting ROAS that has plateaued, we often recommend considering a full-funnel Amazon strategy. This allows for increased scale, reaching consumers who are interested or “in-market” but not necessarily dedicated to a specific brand. Those consumers are then led down the funnel to help fuel the audience pool for future retargeting efforts.”
– Natalie Samson, Marketplaces DSP Senior Manager at Tinuiti
Amazon DSP Ad Types
Now that you know how to target the right audience, it’s time to create some ads. Here are four main ad types available to your brand through DSP.
1. Responsive eCommerce Creative (REC)
Responsive eCommerce Creative first became available to all advertisers on Amazon DSP in January 2021, and has grown to be a very popular ad type. When creating an REC, advertisers can place up to 20 different ASINs into the build, and choose up to 10 different supported ad sizes that will auto-populate based on line item goal type and ad format.
These ads allow for easy ad creation and machine learning optimization. If a product goes out-of-stock, RECs will automatically pause that ASIN in the list and auto-populate based on the other listed ASINs.
Note: Dynamic eCommerce Ads (DEA) are no longer supported and have been replaced by Responsive eCommerce Creative (REC).
2. Static ads
Static ads don’t have any dynamic elements, so they need specific calls-to-action, like “Shop Now.” We recommend using these ads as mid- and upper-funnel tactics to draw shoppers in and help grow brand awareness. These ads lead back to an Amazon storefront, product detail page, or custom landing page.
3. Video ads through DSP
Video is a great way to tell your brand story and create an emotional connection with your audience. Video ads through DSP can run within video content (in-stream video) or as part of a display ad (out-stream video). You can link your video ads through DSP to a product detail page on Amazon or to your own site. Creating video ads through DSP also means you can leverage Amazon’s audiences to target the right shoppers.
4. Over-the-top video ads (OTT)
Amazon’s OTT ads also run on the DSP platform. These non-skippable, full-screen ads are a great way to reach millions of people on connected TV sources (like the Amazon Fire TV Stick). You can target specific Amazon audiences, but keep in mind that these ads are not clickable.
How to Use Amazon DSP
Before you dive into the upper-funnel strategies, make sure that your product is retail-ready, ensuring your:
- Images are high-quality
- Bullet points and descriptions are fully optimized
- You have at least a 3.5-star rating
We also recommend running Ad Console campaigns for branded searches at the same time. If your DSP efforts work, and you increase your brand awareness, you will also see an increase in branded searches.
Not every product has a budget for a full-funnel approach and not every product makes sense to run year-round, full-funnel strategy. That said, you need to make sure you have an always-on approach to retargeting, then layer in mid- to upper-funnel efforts as needed.
Using Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) with Amazon DSP
Amazon Marketing Cloud—Amazon’s data clean room solution—provides advertisers with a wealth of data they can leverage in building their strategies and scaling their campaigns. AMC gives you everything you need to see success—once you take the time to learn how to really use it to help in uncovering the insights that would otherwise be unavailable.
As we all know, Amazon offers full-funnel advertising options, but before Amazon Marketing Cloud was launched, it wasn’t easy to understand (and act upon) the ways in which all those options were working together, and influencing each other’s performance. AMC helps advertisers analyze the full picture of their Amazon performance across all marketing avenues.
As a privacy-safe repository for all available data—including your own uploaded data (CRM data, in-store sales, etc.), DSP data, and data from your Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and/or Sponsored Display campaigns—AMC provides that much-needed holistic understanding of what is working, what isn’t, and what the next steps should be.
- Performance Insights
- Journey Analysis
- Audience Insights
- Media Analysis
As Maddie Barton, Director of Marketplace Programmatic at Tinuiti, shared in a recent interview for Amazon’s blog…
“You are better positioned to tap into the full potential of AMC if you use sponsored ads as well as Amazon DSP. You can use the signals in AMC to bridge those ad types and develop an insight-backed narrative to shed light on connections between the two.”
Aly Fields and Mike Cooper also shed a bright light on the topic in a recent webinar—A Performance-Based Approach to Amazon DSP.
Some key takeaways from their information-packed webinar include:
- AMC is the answer to, “How is everything working together?” The measurement issue has historically been that Amazon Seller Central and Amazon DSP are separate platforms, and data is not shared between them. This meant that when running both Search and DSP ads, a clear understanding into how the two were working together wasn’t available pre-AMC
- AMC helps determine if things are working as intended so you can adjust when and where necessary. AMC brings a richer understanding of your media mix performance, helping you answer those simple questions that matter most, like whether your awareness campaigns are actually resulting in consideration further down the funnel
- AMC helps answer previously unanswerable questions…with the right query as its prompt. When seeking an answer from AMC, you must first start with a digestible query. AMC offers a pre-loaded query library to choose from, but custom queries can also be created. For examples of custom queries we’ve created for our clients—and the results those queries helped us achieve—see our comprehensive guide to the Amazon Marketing Cloud. You’ll also find more information there about the custom AMC reports Tinuiti teams are able to create for clients, including our Media Mix Analysis, Tentpole Event Analysis, and New-to-Brand reports
Want more information on AMC? Check out the below:
Amazon Marketing Cloud 101: How to Revolutionize Your Marketplace Capabilities
Demystifying Amazon Marketing Cloud’s Attribution Model
Behind the Numbers podcast episode with Nirish Parsad and Aly Fields
Amazon DSP Success Story: R+Co
When R+Co first launched on Amazon their products quickly flew off the shelves. They were operationally healthy and had amazing reviews, but things began to slow down a bit over time.
The Tinuiti and R+Co teams had to go back to the drawing board and ask themselves:
- What is it that we’re not doing?
- What should we be folding into our advertising strategy to continue to see this growth on Amazon?
The answers to those questions led to investing more heavily in R+Co’s branding to take full advantage of the real estate on Amazon where they could showcase their creativity and brand story. With Amazon Stores being microsites that allow brands to create a customized experience within Amazon, the next steps were clear, and the Tinuiti team began designing and building out R+Co’s Amazon Store.
R+Co already had high brand awareness from selling across other platforms, but wanted to make sure they showed up for relevant searches within Amazon — whether a shopper included their brand name or not.
With that buttoned-up, R+Co worked with Tinuiti to layer in a more full-funnel Amazon DSP strategy. Once fully implemented, R+Co saw the following performance increases:
- Detail page views by 85%
- Units sold by 70%
- Total sales by 48%
- Return on ad spend (ROAS) by 36%
Amazon Marketing Cloud Case Study: Poppi
When Poppi started working with Tinuiti, they already had one of the most essential components for success working in their favor: a high-quality, enjoyable product that fills a very real gap in the CPG space. Understanding consumers’ love of the sparkling, sugary sweetness that keeps them sipping traditional soda brands, Poppi set out to create a prebiotic-packed alternative that satisfied palates without the empty calories or chemicals.
Among Poppi’s priorities was better understanding the impact their Amazon media was having across the full marketing landscape—particularly, the in-store impact at Whole Foods stores.
Here’s how we approached their strategy, and answering that question:
- Build Awareness: Capitalizing on the “new year, new you” trend popular amongst advertisers at year-end, Tinuiti leveraged Streaming TV and video assets to introduce new customers to the Poppi brand at a time when many folks are preparing to make health-focused updates to their diet. Awareness strategies continued into the new year, nurtured by repeated exposure with Amazon DSP and Sponsored Products ads, helping increase brand familiarity and trust
- Track Key Metrics: AMC enabled Tinuiti to track certain metrics, including in-store sales, that were previously untrackable. With these insights available, we could see how many Whole Foods purchases were supported through Amazon media exposure
- Building Loyalty from the First Sip – One Can at a Time: Remember that delicious product that Poppi offers? As it turns out, once people are aware of it and try it, they’re big fans! One month after being exposed to Poppi’s Amazon media campaign, Whole Foods customers converted over 1,100%
“Amazon’s Marketing Cloud (AMC) is providing new signals that help Poppi see a longer string of attribution across a complex multitouch media system. We love seeing a more complete picture of what ultimately drives customer acquisition and Tinuiti has been an incredible partner in not only understanding all AMC capabilities, but also how to put those insights into action.”
— Graham Goeppert, VP of Digital Commerce & Media, Poppi
Poppi’s Amazon media campaign resulted in (January 2022 – July 2022):
- 1,640% increase in new-to-brand customers
- 4,730% increase in Whole Foods attributed purchases
- 1,100% increase in Whole Foods customers converted after 1st month
Now you’re ready to start using Amazon DSP to fill your marketing funnel and improve your customer acquisition.
As a reminder, here’s your order of operations:
- Set goals for your DSP ads
- Identify your audiences
- Choose strategic placements
- Build out and execute your campaign
- Analyze and optimize
- Do it all again!
Interested in learning more about Amazon DSP? Contact us today for more information, and be sure to register for our 2-day 2023 Commerce Summit, with info-packed sessions on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 and Wednesday, February 22, 2023.