Amazon Sponsored Display Ads: Ultimate Guide


In advertising, one of the biggest areas of focus over the past few years has been the evolution of the customer journey.

With the global health crisis especially accelerating the shift to digital, customer journeys no longer look the same as they did just a few years ago.

There’s been an increase in the number of channels a shopper uses throughout their experience, which means that brands can no longer rely on advertising through one channel. It’s time to branch out. It’s time for Amazon sellers to not just consider visibility in the results pages, but across more of the web. 

That’s what a Sponsored Display campaign is for. 

What Are Amazon Sponsored Display Ads?

Sponsored Display is an Amazon advertising solution, and one of two forms of Amazon display advertising available through the platform.

While one is available exclusively through the Amazon DSP (demand side platform), the Sponsored Display ad format is a self-service option that sellers can access easily through the Seller Central interface. It’s accessible to most sellers with an advertising account.

Sponsored Display ads were developed to help sellers promote their products both on and off Amazon. While a Sponsored Product ad or Sponsored Brands ad attracts on-Amazon customers only, Sponsored Display ads feature on both Amazon itself, and in other places across the web. A typical Sponsored Display ad will include an image, price details, and a star rating, and will link to the product detail page. 

Where Sponsored Display Ads Appear

Like other Sponsored campaigns, ads created through Sponsored Display can show up in multiple places across Amazon, such as in the search results, or on the homepage.

What makes Sponsored Display different is that ads may also show up on a range of third party websites and apps. Third party live streaming service Twitch is one such possibility, alongside other third party websites like IMDb and more.

The exact placements will be determined by how a campaign is set up.

We’ll cover setup options in more detail later. However, as a general rule, if you set up your campaign in a way that targets your product, you can expect ads to show up primarily on Amazon, on the product detail pages, on the results pages and as offers. 

If you choose to target your audience, however, you may notice that ads are displayed primarily in off-Amazon locations to attract shoppers wherever they are.

How They Work

Sponsored Products ads and Sponsored Brands ads both work by matching user search terms with the keywords that have been added into the campaign. Sponsored Display is different. In fact, keywords don’t play a part here at all.

Sponsored Display ads work by analysing online shopping behaviours. Those are used as ‘signals’ to display the right products, to the right people, at the right time. 

For example, an Amazon user may have browsed similar products to yours, but not made a purchase. Amazon is then in a strong position; it knows that this user is interested in this type of product but hasn’t found anything they really want to buy. It uses this opportunity to promote similar products to ‘ready to buy’ audiences. 

At the same time, Amazon also knows who has viewed your product, but not made a purchase. And it can use this as an opportunity to remind that user of your product at a later date, with the aim of keeping that product in the mind of the shopper.

It’s possible to set a ‘lookback window’ of seven days, 30 days, and so on, to track how users engage with an ad over this period, and how it influences their shopping behaviours.

While this product and interest-based targeting makes Sponsored Display very different to other Sponsored campaign types, there is one big similarity: They are all rooted in Amazon PPC (pay per click) and are paid for on a cost per click basis. 

Sponsored Display’s Role in the Sales Funnel

Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands are designed to work at the consideration and decision stages of the sales funnel. Displaying on Amazon, and being rooted in keywords, they work in the last mile of the customer journey. That’s when the shopper is already in a position to buy and requires support in order to convert.

Sponsored Display is different. This campaign type works across the entirety of the customer journey from product discovery to post-purchase re-engagement. 

For product discovery, Sponsored Display ads can be shown to shoppers who have viewed similar products, or who have displayed an interest in the type of product you’re offering. Research shows that 80% of shoppers want to discover new products on Amazon, and Sponsored Display ads are the best way to introduce them. It’s a way to create brand awareness, reach new audiences, and build a larger base. 

Further down the sales funnel, Sponsored Display ads can help to keep a particular product in a customer’s mind, even if they’re not quite ready to buy.

Amazon reports that just 4% of its users complete their entire journey in a single session. Most take 6-7 days, browsing an average of 14 product detail pages, and utilising several online resources to help them make a decision, such as review websites. 

Sponsored Display ads can continue to bring benefits even after a purchase takes place. This ad type can work to reengage a previous buyer, introducing them to new offerings from the brand, and helping to build loyal, long lasting customer relationships. 


Sponsored Display may be one of Amazon’s most overlooked ad campaigns. However, when used correctly, this ad format can bring notable benefits to brands, such as:

  • Instilling trust in buyers: Amazon is, perhaps, the most well-known and well-trusted marketplace in the world. With Sponsored Display, customers can experience the trust, familiarity, and confidence that comes with engaging with Amazon content, even if they’re browsing a less-trusted third party site. 
  • Retaining customer interest: The ability to reengage with customers who have demonstrated interest previously is hugely valuable. It helps to keep those shoppers in the sales funnel for longer. Sponsored Display’s retargeting features help sellers to build longer lasting relationships with their highest quality audiences. 
  • Keeping costs to a minimum: At a time when sellers are actively looking to take more control over their ad spend, Sponsored Display’s PPC nature allows for bidding and budgets to be adjusted easily, as needed. There are no hefty upfront costs, no contracts, and no costly barriers to entry like with the DSP. 


Sponsored Brands ads are available to vendors and agencies, as well as all sellers enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry programme in supported regions. As of 2020, the UK is a Sponsored Display supported region, with Amazon rolling out this new ad type to more markets following its initial Beta introduction in the United States in 2019. 

How to Set Up Sponsored Display Ads

Sponsored Display campaigns can be set up in much the same way as other Sponsored campaign types. There’s a simple 4-step process to getting started:

Step 1: Log in

Log in to your Amazon advertising account or register for an account if you are new to Amazon advertising. In your campaign manager, you will be able to select from the three types of Sponsored campaign. Simply select ‘Sponsored Display’. 

Step 2: Complete details

When selecting this ad format, you will need to add in basic details such as the campaign name, start and end dates, ad groups, and budget. We’ll dive deeper into budget and bidding for Sponsored Display ads later on in this guide.

Step 3: Choose targeting options

We’ll cover targeting options in more detail further down. You can select between product targeting and audience targeting depending on the contextual signals you wish to use to determine where – and to who – your ads should be displayed. 

Step 4: Select products

The final step before launching a campaign is to choose the products you wish to advertise. All eligible products from your inventory will be shown. You can choose to advertise more than one. In fact, you can select up to 10,000 ASINs per campaign. 

Targeting Options

Step three in the process was to choose targeting options for the campaign, and that’s what we’re going to take a closer look at here. 

When setting up a Sponsored Display campaign, there are two targeting options to choose from: Product targeting and audience targeting.

To make the best choice, it’s a good idea to think about what you really want to get out of your efforts. Is your primary goal to reach out to new customers, or do you want to engage further with those you already know?

Product Targeting

Product targeting is designed for new customer acquisition. This type of targeting identifies Amazon users who have viewed similar products to yours, or who have browsed a similar category, and introduces your product to them.

They may not have been actively looking for your product, but it may meet their needs. 

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting is designed to build stronger relationships with those that are already aware of your brand. It’s a way to reengage audiences that have demonstrated an interest in your product, but not yet made a purchase.

These audiences can be retargeted across any compatible third party website or app. 

Bidding & Optimisation

As Sponsored Display ads are built on the PPC model, you will need to set your bids and budget when launching your campaign.

The good news is that there is no minimum budget, so you have quite a bit of freedom and flexibility to set your daily budget and bid in a way that fits in with your financial requirements.

You can learn more about bidding and developing a bidding strategy by reading our guide

One thing to note about Sponsored Display campaigns is that you can optimise bidding depending on your own needs. There are three custom optimisations to choose from: page visits, conversions, and viewable impressions.

This means that you can prioritise your budget to flow into ad activities that best meet your goal, whether that’s awareness, consideration, or conversion. This helps to ensure that you’re getting the most value out of your campaigns, and the best possible returns. 

Specs & Dimensions

With Sponsored Display being a Sponsored ad type, campaigns are subject to the same creative policies as Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands. The only additional considerations come if you’re planning to include custom images. 

Custom images allow you to add additional photographs that don’t just show your product, but actually show them in a relevant setting. If you want to use this sort of creative, there are some extra rules, specifications, and dimensions to be aware of. They include:

  • Images must align with the information on the landing page
  • Images must be high quality 
  • Images can’t be badly cropped
  • Images cannot contain additional text
  • Images cannot be presented in letterbox format

Best Practices

It’s always advisable to follow Amazon best practices when setting up a Sponsored Display campaign. Here are three techniques for developing the most powerful campaigns:

1. Choose products wisely

Sponsored Display ads are designed to either impress new-to-brand customers, or encourage a previous lead to return and convert. So, sellers should be putting their best foot forward; they should be using Sponsored Display to advertise their best products. 

The best products to choose for a Sponsored Display campaign are those that are performing well, have positive customer reviews, and a high quality listing page. 

It’s also a good idea to include discounted products, as any savings or promotions are advertised within the ad. According to Amazon’s own research, discounted products receive 42% more click throughs than full price products. 

2. Add more than 10 ASINs per campaign

Amazon itself recommends adding at least 10 different ASINs into each Sponsored Display campaign. There are three reasons for this. 

Firstly, the more products Amazon has to choose from when displaying an ad, the more chance it has to select the most relevant product for the occasion. 

Secondly, the more products there are, the more chances for your campaign to take part in auctions. 

And thirdly, the more your ads are displayed, the more insights you can draw from them. Insight is a hugely important part of advertising, enabling you to adjust and tweak your strategy based on real performance data, helping to maximise your return on investment.

3. Track & monitor

Campaign setup is not a one-time-thing. It’s important to ensure you are continually monitoring performance and outcomes and adapting your approach to drive the best results. 

Fortunately, Sponsored Display ads do allow sellers to access valuable metrics such as impressions, clicks, sales, and new-to-brand customers. There are also a number of downloadable reports which can be very useful. 

Get started with the Purchased Product report which can help you identify new products in your inventory to advertise. Another good option is the Targeting report, which can help you decide whether to focus on product or audience targeting in the future. 

Tips for Using Sponsored Display Ads Effectively

Following best practices should help you to see some impressive results from your campaigns. But it may be possible to enhance these results even further by adopting some of our top tips for using Sponsored Display ads more effectively:

Create powerful ads

There are two options for building ads when selecting this campaign type. The first is an automatically generated ad, which is the quickest and easiest way to get started. The second provides you with more control over the look and feel of your ad, with custom product images and graphics. 

Which is best? The truth is that there’s no right or wrong. 

The most important thing is to create powerful ads that work for you, using whatever method suits your needs. So, try not to get too caught up in thinking about what you *should* do, and instead focus on whatever seems to work.

Use with other ad types

A big mistake that some brands make is that they focus exclusively on Sponsored Display ads, overlooking other campaign types. 

With Sponsored Display working both on Amazon and off, it’s often seen as the ‘all-rounder’ that eradicates the need for other ad types. However, Amazon’s research shows that Sponsored Display ads actually work best when they’re used alongside other advertising efforts. 

When using Sponsored Display, Sponsored Products, and Sponsored Brands together, advertisers can see up to 15% more sales than when using one ad format alone. 

Stick with what works

It’s important to test out lots of different strategies at first, as you can never be 100% sure of what sort of approach will generate what sort of result.

However, once you’ve got some performance data under your belt, don’t be afraid to sacrifice some methods, and drive more budget into those techniques that you know to be working.

If, for example, you’re seeing positive results from a particular audience segment, try increasing bids for that segment, or replicating that campaign using slightly different targeting settings to reproduce those results amongst more people.

Define your goals

Sponsored Display ads are, perhaps, Amazon’s most customisable ad campaign type. Therefore, in order to really get the sort of results that you’re hoping for, it’s important not to dive in headfirst. Instead, spend a little time drawing up your strategy, defining your goals, and thinking about what you want to get out of your efforts. 

Understanding your advertising aims is the first step towards selecting the right targeting types, launching the right bidding optimisations, setting your budget, and choosing your products; it’s the foundation on which your campaign is built. 

Do More with Amazon Advertising

By now, many brands already know the power of Amazon advertising. What they don’t always realise, however, is that there’s one very important Amazon ad type that, while often overlooked, could hold the key to success. 

Sponsored Display is certainly not as well known or well utilised as Sponsored Products or Sponsored Brands, but it’s a critical piece of the puzzle. This ad format bridges the ever-widening gap between a customer’s experience on Amazon, and their off-Amazon journey.

With this gap growing wider and wider all the time, brands must be ready to take action to attract and retain customers. And with Sponsored Display ads, they can.

If you are looking for someone to manage your PPC advertising then why not consider Clear Ads? Clear Ads has been selected among the Best Amazon PPC Services by DesignRush.

Request a Callback

More to Explore

Mastering Ad Budgeting for Successful Selling on Amazon: Common Mistakes, Signs You Need Help, and Best Practices

Types of Amazon Ads: Which To Use

A Rundown of Seller Sessions 2023

See how we can help you maximise revenue from your ad spend