UPDATE: As of September 2018, Amazon is rebranding all of their AMG, AMS, & AAP features under a new name called, “Amazon Advertising”. Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) will now be called ‘Advertising Console’. Learn more here.
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) offers effective tools to help vendors stand out against their competitors and drive traffic to product detail pages and branded pages.
As vendors know, every click does not equal a purchase – so it is important to understand how to leverage AMS to its full potential.
The primary benefit of using AMS over other services, is that it gives sellers/advertisers a direct opportunity to get their products and brand in front of additional in-market shoppers on Amazon.com.
Specifically, the ability to target individual product detail pages gives sellers an opportunity to introduce their products directly alongside competitor products when consumers are at the last stage prior to conversion.
In the following blog post, we cover everything you need to know about Amazon Marketing Services including:
Jump to a Section:
- What is Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)?
- Amazon Sponsored Product Ads
- Amazon Headline Search Ads
- Amazon Product Display Ads
- Amazon Marketing Services: FAQs
What is Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)?
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) launched in 2012. Since then, Amazon advertising offerings have gone through a flurry of changes, including the discontinuation of initial Product Ads and Amazon Text Ads and renaming of eCommerce Ads to Product Display Ads.
They finally evolved into three main Amazon advertising formats:
- Amazon Sponsored Products Ads
- Amazon Headline Search Ads
- Amazon Product Display Ads
In the video below, Pat Petriello, Senior Marketplace Strategist at CPC Strategy explains:
- What is Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)
- Product-based targeting vs. Interest-based targeted
- How to Leverage Headline Search Ads To Increase Visibility
- The Relationship Between Keywords & Ad Copy
- How to Target Your Competitors with Product Display Ads
Currently, Amazon Marketing Services is only available in the US, UK, and most recently, Canada. However, there is one ad type–Amazon Sponsored Products–that is open to more countries and available to more than just vendors.
Amazon Sponsored Products
Sponsored Product ads are either Automatic (content-driven) or Manual (keyword-driven) targeted ads that show up on the right rail and top/bottom of SERP.
They are considered middle-of-the-funnel ads because they appear in locations where the buyer is likely comparing different options for a purchase.
These ads are very popular because they’re not only available to vendors, but also to 3P sellers. They’re easy to create and they’re usually approved within an hour.
Where Amazon Sponsored Products Live
Amazon Sponsored Product Ads appear on desktop, mobile web, and mobile app.
Specifically, on desktop:
- Above, alongside and below search results
- On product detail pages
On mobile, Sponsored Product Ads can appear:
- Below search results
- On product detail pages
Remember, these ad locations aren’t set in stone–they are subject to change at any time at Amazon’s discretion.
Desktop (Main SERP)
Desktop (Product Detail Page and Added-to-Cart Page)
Requirements for Amazon Sponsored Products
Although Sponsored Products are available to both 3P and Vendors, it doesn’t mean you can get up and running without fulfilling Amazon’s requirements. Here’s what you need to have in place before you start:
- An active Amazon professional seller account.
- Ability to ship to all U.S. addresses.
- Product listings in one or more of the available categories. Products must be new. Used products are not eligible for Sponsored Products.
- Listings are eligible for the Buy Box. If you create an ad for a product listing that is not eligible for the Buy Box, your ad will not display to Amazon shoppers. Ads that are not eligible are flagged in Campaign Manager under the Advertising tab in Seller Central.
Sponsored Products are currently available in these countries:
As stated above, only Buy box eligible products (not used, adult, or closed categories) are eligible to become a Sponsored Products Ad. Here are the categories that are open:
Targeting Options for Amazon Sponsored Products
There are a couple decisions you have to make for targeting Sponsored Products: Automatic vs. Manual targeting and–if you choose the latter–keyword selections.
Automatic vs. Manual Targeting
If you select Automatic targeting, Amazon algorithmically serves up ads for products within an ad group based on a combination of relevant content and conversion history data.
If you use Manual targeting, you are responsible for selecting optimal keywords.
A lot of sellers will harvest data from their Automatic campaigns then completely move over to Manual Campaigns. At CPC Strategy, we recommend you use a mix of both.
“A lot [of people] think it’s a waste of money [to invest in both Manual and Automatic Campaigns], but it’s not,” says Leo Carrillo, a Marketplace Channel Analyst at CPC Strategy. “Automatic Campaigns are an investment in valuable data that you can later use in Manual Campaigns.”
Phrase Match vs. Exact Match Keywords
Just like the Manual vs. Automatic discussion, this isn’t really an either or question.
The best keyword strategies include both single search term keywords and multiple term phrases. That way, you can get more products in front of your shoppers.
Here are some of the keyword types you can aim for, according to Amazon:
Learn more about optimizing Manual and Automatic Campaigns in our blog posts:
- Advanced Advertising With Sponsored Products Manual Campaigns
- 7 Tips on How to Structure Sponsored Products Automatic Campaigns
How Much Sponsored Product Ads Cost
The minimum daily budget for Sponsored Product Ads is $1, and you’re only charged when a shopper actually clicks your ad.
You should bid the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click, which might not be in line with Amazon’s suggested bid.
Pat Petriello, Senior Marketplace Strategist at CPC Strategy, offers his insight:
I’d take Amazon’s page one suggested bid with a grain a salt and use actual click and conversion data to make bid modification decisions. We often find that to get on page one of the SERP is a much higher bid than what Amazon is suggesting, and as long as you’re getting an acceptable ACoS, you can keep pushing up the bid to get more volume while remaining profitable. During the holidays, Amazon suggests you consider increasing by 150-350% to stay competitive.
Advanced Amazon Sponsored Products Strategy
- Amazon Sponsored Products Guide [Download]
- Best Practices for Amazon Sponsored Products
- The Phased Approach to Amazon Sponsored Products: Product Content Evaluation
Headline Search Ads
Headline Search Ads are keyword-driven and can appear across the top of the SERP. They’re only available to Amazon Vendors.
Headline Search Ads are considered top-of-the-funnel ads because potential customers who click through these banner-like ads are typically at the beginning of their buyer’s journey, and likely open to browsing.
Where Amazon Headline Search Ads Live
Your ads may show up above Amazon.com search results on the Amazon mobile site and app.
Mobile (Site, not App)
Requirements for Amazon Headline Search Ads
Headline Search Ads are only available to Amazon Vendors.
These types of ads can send traffic to:
- Amazon Stores
- A custom URL (made of three parent products)
- A best-selling product
There really is no right answer for which one works best–it all depends on your strategy and keywords.
In the past, we usually saw the best results from brand pages, which were discontinued in favor of Amazon Stores.
However, these ads usually attract top-of-the-funnel searchers.
If you’re targeting queries that are further down the funnel–for instance, prAna yoga pants–you should consider sending traffic to a custom URL with three types of yoga pants or a bestselling product. That will make it easier for shoppers to find what they clearly want than a brand page would.
We wrote about some of the features of Amazon Stores in a recent post. These include:
1. Multi-Page Experience – Multi-page Amazon Stores (up to 3 levels deep) can be used to exclusively showcase your brand and products. Customize the experience based on what your brand needs.
2. Store Builder – The intuitive and simple to use store builder empowers you to create engaging Amazon Stores. Easy-to-use templates are available that simplify the page building experience.
3. Rich Media Content – Support for rich media and content, such as text and images, helps elevate the shopping experience.
Take a look at the example below:
Custom URLs should be made from three of your parent products–so make them good ones!
Create a custom landing page by entering 3+ ASINs in the Amazon search bar, separated by a “|” symbol. You can simply take the URL from the search results and copy and paste it in the appropriate location when creating your ad.
Here’s where you would do this:
As we said before, it’s very powerful to match your products to customer queries if you use this format.
Best-Selling Products Page
This is a landing page featuring your brand’s best-selling products. This is another more top-of-the-funnel format but gives the customer additional trust in those products when they can see others have taken the leap and bought them.
Targeting Amazon Headline Search Ads
If you couldn’t tell by now, the golden rule with Headline Search Ads is to reduce friction for your shoppers and put the most relevant products in front of them.
Just as with Sponsored Product Ads, you can choose to use the suggested keywords or use your own. However, there are a few limitations for supported keywords on Headline Search Ads vs. Sponsored Product Ads. Here’s what Amazon says:
Headline Search Ads supports Exact and Phrase match, but without variations such as stemmings, plurals and/or misspellings. At this time synonyms of the terms are not supported. Sponsored Products Ads allow Exact/Phrase/Broad matches, including negative matching for exact and phrase, considering variations of the terms.
Now, there’s one additional thing we should point out about Headline Search Ads.
Although they are keyword-driven like Sponsored Products, they also use ad copy to surface an ad.
The headline and text in your ad copy should match the keywords that are the MOST important for your product. That way, you should see increased relevancy and a more productive click through.
Because Headline Search Ads require more creativity than other types of Amazon ads, It’s probably worth A/B testing them.
You can adjust all of the following:
- Number of featured ASINs
- Order of ASINs
- ASIN selection
- Custom landing page selection
Here are Amazon’s suggestions for a fair A/B test.
How Much Amazon Headline Search Ads Cost
You have the option to set up an average daily budget (at a $1.00 minimum) or a campaign budget ($100.00 minimum).
According to Amazon, “Campaign budget is the total amount you are willing to spend for a single campaign”, and remember, you will only pay for clicks on your ads, not impressions.
One thing to keep in mind: The ACoS for Headline Search Ads is typically a little higher than other ad formats, but we believe this pays off with an increase in organic sales.
Advanced Amazon Headline Search Ads Strategy
Amazon Product Ads
Amazon’s Product Display Ads are either product-targeted or interest-based and can live on your (or a competitor’s) product detail pages. They’re only available for vendors.
These ads are considered bottom-of-the-funnel because they exist where customers are most likely on the verge of a purchase–on a specific product page, whether it’s yours or a competitor’s page. They’re the last ad your shopper will see before they click the “add to cart” button.
That target competitor pages gives Product Display Ads an “offensive and / or defensive” advertising strategy you may not get with other ads.
Amazon Product Display Ads Requirements
As we stated before, Product Display Ads are only available for vendors.
They also allow vendors to select where they want their ads to show up, whether it’s on your product detail page or your competitor’s.
These ads require less creativity than a Headline Search Ad, as the majority of your ad will be populated by your listing content. However, you must also provide a custom headline and logo.
Where Amazon Product Display Ads Live
Product Display Ads are shown on the desktop, mobile web, and mobile app across the following:
- Product detail page
- Right rail of search results
- Bottom of search results
- Customer reviews page
- Read all reviews page,
- Top of the offer listing page
- Amazon-generated marketing emails
Targeting Amazon Product Display Ads
Product Display Ads are unique because advertisers must rely on either Product Targeting or Interest-Based Targeting options.
It’s worth noting Interest-based targeting leans toward a higher volume and lower conversion rate. That’s because these ads aren’t quite as targeted to users who are interested in similar products or have actually purchased those products in the past.
Product targeting allows advertisers to get much more granular, thus you may see a higher conversion rate. As always, test this with your products–if you offer something that’s never been sold on Amazon before, you may find Interest-based targeting is a better option.
Generally, you’ll bid less for Interest-based targeting and more aggressively for Product targeting. We would suggest you start by targeting both to see what works best for your products.
How Much Amazon Product Display Ads Cost
The minimum cost-per-click for Product Display Ads is $0.02. Just like Headline Search Ads, you can set an average daily budget (which is a $1.00 minimum) or a campaign budget (minimum of $100.00).
Advanced Amazon Product Display Ads Strategy
Amazon Marketing Services: FAQs
Q. How do the Sponsored Ads through AMS differ from the Sponsored Ads that I’m already running not through AMS? Does one or the other take priority for visibility?
A. The main difference between Sponsored Product ads through AMS and Sponsored Product ads through Seller Central (3P) is Seller Central allows you to set up both Manual and Automatic campaign structures while AMS only allows for Manual campaigns.
Q. Can you choose which location your Sponsored Product Ad goes on the SERP?
A. Unfortunately no. If so, every single seller on Amazon would want to select their ad to run at the top of SERP 1 because that is the most likely to be seen.
Q. What is the easiest way to scale an AMS Ad once you know that it is profitable?
A. The easiest way to scale an ad would be to use the Copy feature on the far right hand side (see below). This feature essentially allows you to recreate an ad with the exact same specs and details but also allows you to make edits or changes before it goes live.
Q. Is the custom url in headline search the only place that you can add your own text? Are the other types of ads automatically generated by Amazon?
A. You can add your own text within any type of Headline Search ad (Brand Page, Custom URL, Best Selling Page) as well as any Product Display ad. The main difference is, because of the way the ads are shown by Amazon, the ad copy in the Headline Search ads is much more visible (and therefore more important) than the Product Display ads.
Q. With headline search ads, if you are the only vendor bidding on ‘ties’ – will the ad be visible each time you type in ties? Or is it served based on consumer targeting, etc.
A. This is a really good question. There are several factors involved in having your ad seen or not. Bid level is a major one of those factors but Amazon also accounts for things such as content and relevancy of your product to the keyword you are bidding on. For example, if you are bidding on the keyword “ties” but selling a wireless mouse, you are far less likely for your ad to show than a seller that is bidding on that keyword and actually selling ties.
Q. How are you measuring ROI? I’m new to AMS. Can you see ROI in the metrics here unlike everyplace else in Amazon?
A. ROI is reported in AMS by measuring Spend vs Sales. Amazon reports these metrics at both the campaign level and keyword level for Headline Search ads. They will not report an actual ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale) percentage but it can easily be calculated by comparing the two.
Q. What is your stance on Branded Storefronts?
A. If you have a Branded Storefront it does not seem to be a great investment unless you are currently utilizing Amazon Marketing Services (i.e. Headline Search Ads). If you have a branded storefront, but are not driving traffic to there with these types of advertisements, then you may see a lower ROI on your branded storefront, because you are not driving enough relevant traffic there. But it also depends on the vertical of the products your selling, your brand messaging, as well as other factors.
We have seen with some of our clients, that when they are using AMS ads and driving consumers to Branded Storefronts, they will see a higher ROI through their Storefronts. The storefront requires more bandwidth to manage, so if you are not driving relevant traffic to it with ads, then we do not see it as a necessary investment.
Q. Are keywords within a product listing used for Sponsored Products targeting?
A. Yes. Automatic campaigns use product content to determine relevancy to the customer search query.
Q. You mentioned how the majority of the SERP results are paid opportunities. Have you seen anything from the effects of Mobile usage versus desktop?
A. Yes, and we’re investigating this further as the mobile experience evolves. For example, we have seen that Sponsored Products on mobile don’t show up at the top of the SERP the same way they do on desktop.
On the detail page itself, the product description shows up above the bullet points, which is the reverse of the functionality on desktop.
We’ll share more findings as we continue to dig into the mobile experience on Amazon.
Q. How does starting and stopping an AMS campaign effect campaign performance?
A. Pausing and re-starting a campaign will not directly impact a campaign performance. However, a product’s sales history does impact its organic search rank and is considered in the Sponsored Products auction, so there is value in continuously driving sales.
Q. How do you know what the bid amount should be without knowing what other competitors are bidding?
A. There is no “right” bid amount, as different advertisers have different advertising goals and margin thresholds among the products in their catalog. There are also different advertising strategies that call for different bid levels.
For broader searches where the customer is higher up the intent funnel (ie still researching), you’ll typically want lower bids so that you don’t run a high ACOS.
For more targeted niche keyword where you are expecting higher conversion, it makes sense to bid more aggressively.
The key is to monitor your performance regularly to use data to make bid adjustments.
Q. We are the third seller and vendor. So, for one product we sell as both third seller and vendor, does Product Display Ads or headline ads even show third seller is in the Buy Box?
A. Yes, Headline Search Ads and Product Display Ads will surface regardless of which Seller’s offer is currently in the Buy Box.
Q. What columns should I look at in my Search Term Reports?
A. The key metrics to look at are clicks, spend, sales, and ACOS. Impressions are a misleading metric in these reports since an impression is counted regardless of what page of the search results they appeared on.
The actionable metrics are determining which search terms are generating clicks, converting into sales, and at what cost.
We typically use ACOS as the key performance indicator of campaign, ad group, and keyword success.
Q. When utilizing keywords, what is the difference between ‘Broad’ and ‘Phrase’?
A. Use “exact match” when you want your ad to appear only to shoppers who type in your exact keyword. Choose “phrase match” to target your ad to shoppers who include your keyword in their search to maximize impressions by capturing shopper searches similar to your keyword.
Q. Manual vs. Auto campaigns- Which is more efficient in terms of average CPCs?
A. Manual campaigns should be more targeted based on high performing search terms from automatic campaigns, and thus will have higher CPCs.
Q. Do Headline ads boost organic rankings for the keywords you bid on if people buy through those keyword searches?
A. Running Headline Search Ads does not boost the organic rankings for a product in and of themselves.
However, sales history is a factor in organic rankings, so using advertising to increase sales can have the effect of impacting organic rank.
Q. How effective is the automatic search term function when creating ads? What about for international Amazon accounts? Will there be a translation issue to compromise the effectiveness of keywords selected?
A. Automatic campaigns within Sponsored Products uses product content to determine relevancy to the customer search term.
We have found it to be effective for not only driving incremental sales but also keyword harvesting the terms where a product is most successful. International accounts operate in the same way and will require language translation for that region.
However, this is something which you’ll need to be doing anyway in order to sell successfully in non-English marketplaces.
Q. Which of the 3 ad types should see the biggest investment?
A. There is no “right” allocation of budget, as it depends heavily on an advertiser’s goals, budget, and margin threshold.
Best practice is to start with a mix of all three of the different ad types and then use performance data to drive continued optimization.
Q. Which is the most effective structure of splitting campaigns? i.e. one campaign for pants, one campaign for shorts, or one campaign for ‘bottoms’, both pants and shorts. Our campaigns have several product categories, is this too messy/not well targeted?
A. The more granular you can get with your campaigns and ad groups, the better. In your case, a separate campaign for “pants” and “shorts” would be the most effective.
The reason for this is that you’d select different target keywords for each of those campaigns, and the search intent of a customer looking for pants is different than that of a customer searching for shorts.
Q. How to improve the searchability/page rank for a vendor’s brand page?
A. There is no page rank, per se, of a vendor’s brand page, since those pages do not appear on the SERP.
You can drive additional traffic to your brand page by using Headline Search Ads with your brand page as the destination URL. The best use case for this is around branded searches where customers have indicated they are interested in your brand but have not specified the exact products they want.
If a customer is searching specifically for one of your branded products, it’s best practice to send them directly to those products using a custom URL rather than to your brand page.
Q. What’s the benefit to establishing a daily budget rather than let it run?
A. The benefit to daily budgets is to maintain a high degree of control over your campaign spend so that your spending doesn’t get out of hand without you realizing it.
Q. Is it better to create a product url to direct the consumers to on Amazon or to a brand page? I have done both. However, with the brand page, you can see the traffic generated.
A. The goal is to match the customer intent communicated by the customer’s search term to the landing page you send them to without making the customer do more work.
From the webinar example, if a customer searches for “aluminum baking sheets,” you are best served by sending them directly to your line of aluminum baking sheets.
Sending that customer to your brand page just makes them have to do more work in finding what they want. Optimize your landing pages to make buying easier on the customer.
Q. Can you review defending your pages again? You can run ads on your own detail pages?
A. That’s correct. Let’s say you have two products, product X and product Y. On the detail page of product X, you can advertise product Y in the Product Display Ad space by creating a campaign with product targeting and targeting your own product X.
This way, you are blocking other advertisers from occupying real estate on your product detail page.
Q. Can we also target related products which are similar?
A. Yes, this is part of a Product Display Ad offensive strategy.