Selling on Amazon is one of the smartest moves any online retailer can make today. The platform attracts more than 300 million users, from all around the world, who all have one very important element in common; they’re all in the market to buy.
Promoting your products on Amazon is a hugely effective way to get those products in front of potential customers. But to begin building your advertising campaigns, you’ll need to make sure you’re well versed in Amazon Marketing Services.
What is Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)?
Amazon Marketing Services, or AMS, is a pay-per-click platform where sellers can access a number of self-service advertising solutions.
Self-service, of course, means that you’re in complete control of any campaigns that you launch.
Whether you want to get your product in front of shoppers who are searching for similar items, or you want to actively reach out to new-to-brand audiences based on shopper interests, Amazon Marketing Services is how you’re going to achieve exactly that.
Amazon AMS is Now Part of Amazon Advertising
Truthfully, creating a guide to Amazon Marketing Services is a little misleading. That’s because it doesn’t actually exist. In name, at least. Back in 2018, three separate Amazon platforms – Amazon Marketing Services, the Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP), and the Amazon Media Group (AMG) – were consolidated into one system.
Amazon states that the move was made to develop a ‘single, unified brand’ that brings everything together.
While the three platforms were initially launched to meet the distinct needs of different groups, Amazon soon found that each group wanted access to a broader range of advertising options.
This motivated the organisation to create ‘Amazon Advertising’; a one-stop-shop for all Amazon advertising needs.
However, ‘Amazon Advertising’ and ‘Amazon Marketing Services’ are used interchangeably. We’ll be referring to both throughout the rest of this seller’s guide.
As part of the 2018 rebrand to what’s now colloquially known as ‘Amazon Ads’, a number of advertising solutions were also put through a rebranding exercise.
Amazon Marketing Services > Amazon Console
The AMS section of Amazon Advertising became known as the Advertising Console
Headline Search Ads (HSA) > Sponsored Brands
The Headline Search Ad solution was changed to Sponsored Brands
Product Display Ads (PDA) > Sponsored Display
The old Product Display Ad became the new Sponsored Display ad campaigns
Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) > Amazon DSP
The managed programmatic AAP transitioned into the demand side platform (DSP)
How Does Amazon Marketing Services Work?
The way that Amazon Marketing Services works will largely depend on the types of services that you choose to use. We’ll talk more about the different services and ad types available through the platform later. As a rule, AMS will either work by using keywords or behavioural signals to match your products with the right users.
Keyword targeted ad types work by using Amazon’s own search engine algorithm, known as A9, to match user search terms with the keywords you’ve included within your campaign. It’s an SEO-based technique for connecting with the right buyers.
Signal-based ad types work by analysing online user behaviours. They don’t match keywords but instead look at who is most likely to be interested in your products based on the behaviours they have exhibited online, such as viewing similar items.
The ad types available through AMS are all self service sponsored ads which you can launch whenever you’re ready. There are three sponsored ad types to consider:
Amazon Sponsored Products
Amazon Sponsored Products is an Amazon ad type that enables sellers to promote specific items from their inventory. According to Amazon’s own research, sellers that utilise this ad type can generally see a 40% increase in orders of an Amazon product, and a 54% increase in product views on average over the first 12 months.
As Sponsored Products is based on a cost per click model, the advertising cost for sellers can be very affordable. You are only charged when a user clicks on your ad. For this ad type, the minimum bid per keyword is 0.02p, and the maximum is 1000p.
To be eligible for Sponsored Products, you’ll need to have a professional seller account or a vendor account or be a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) author or agency. You’ll also need to be selling a product that comes under one of the approved Amazon categories. It’s also necessary to own the ‘buy box’ for your product, as Sponsored Products will only run when you’re the Featured Offer.
There are three targeting options for Sponsored Products: automatic, manual, and negative. Automatic targeting automatically matches your advertised product with relevant keywords, while manual targeting allows you to specify which keywords you want to be associated with, Negative targeting instructs Amazon not to display your ad for any user searches containing specific non-relevant words or phrases.
Sponsored Products are best used at the awareness and decision stages of the sales funnel. This ad type can be highly effective for raising awareness of new product launches, or for targeting those shoppers in the ‘window of opportunity’ to buy.
Amazon Sponsored Brands
Sponsored Brands ads are very much like Sponsored Products ads, with one important distinction: with Sponsored Brands, you can promote both your product and your brand to improve awareness. You can add a logo and a custom headline to your ad creative, and direct users either to a specific product page, your Amazon store, or to another landing page beyond Amazon Stores using a custom URL.
Like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands ads are built on a cost per click model, so you only pay when the ad is clicked. For this type, the minimum bid per keyword is 0.1p, and the maximum is 31p. Total campaign budget can reach £1,000,000.
To be eligible for Sponsored Brands, you’ll need to have a professional seller account, and be enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry scheme. Vendors, book vendors, and agencies are also eligible for Sponsored Brands campaigns.
You can choose either keyword targeting or product targeting with Sponsored Brands. Keyword targeting means your ad will show up for specific searches where the search term matches the keywords you’ve added into the campaign. Product targeting allows you to choose categories or specific products to target your ads. Amazon recommends using a combination of both to deliver the best results.
Sponsored Brands ads are typically best for improving awareness. As they can direct users to either an Amazon Store to share a brand story, or to a specific product page, these ads can be used to boost familiarity of both brand and product.
* Sponsored Brands is just one of a number of awareness features offered by Amazon today. If you’re interested in brand awareness and discovery, keep your eyes peeled for Amazon Posts. It allows brands to share updates with users though product detail pages, from category feeds, or from related posts. It’s available in Beta only in the US right now, but it’s expected to be rolled out to the UK shortly.
Sponsored Ad Portfolios
Launched in 2018, Sponsored Ad Portfolios allow you to better organise your Sponsored Brands campaigns. It enables you to add different campaigns into different portfolios, and then manage all campaigns as one under a single portfolio. For example, you may be running four campaigns. You could group two similar campaigns together under Portfolio 1, and two under Portfolio 2. This would allow you to run reports just for a specified portfolio, for example, or allocate budget differently across different portfolios depending on campaign performance.
Amazon Sponsored Display Ads
Sponsored Display ads are quite different from the other two ad types available in AMS. This ad type is not keyword-based, instead using behavioural signals to reach the right shoppers, at the right time. It’s also Amazon’s first self-service advertising product to help sellers reach off-Amazon audiences. According to Amazon using contextual signals can generate 2x more impressions, and 1.5x more ad clicks.
Although this is a different ad type, it’s still part of Amazon’s pay per click advertising, so you only pay when an ad is clicked. There’s no minimum budget, and you can set your daily bid and pause spending on your ad campaign whenever you need to.
Sponsored Display has the same eligibility requirements as Sponsored Brands. You’ll need to be in the Amazon Brand Registry programme, or be a verified vendor, book vendor, or agency working with clients who are selling products through Amazon.
There are two targeting options for Sponsored Display, each with its own subcategory. The first is product targeting, and you can choose to either target a specific product (displaying your ad to users who have viewed a particular item), or target a category (displaying your ad to users who are browsing a particular niche). Audience targeting allows you to re-engage with audiences who have previously shown interest in what you have to offer. You can choose to target audiences based on in-market, lifestyle, and interest-based behaviours and contextual signals.
Benefits of Amazon AMS
Amazon Marketing Services allows you to do what most retailers dream about: it allows you to get your products not only in front of a huge audience, but in front of a huge audience of potential shoppers who are ready to make a purchase.
Amazon has become the UK’s biggest – and arguably most important – online shopping destination. Research shows that UK customers generally expect to shop more on Amazon in 2022 and beyond than ever before, and they’re planning to spend more in the marketplace, too. Embracing the services and features offered with AMS is your way to connect with these qualified, ready-to-buy audiences.
And it’s not just a way to connect, but to connect in a powerful and effective way. Amazon doesn’t approach advertising lightly; it’s serious about its commitment to displaying the most relevant results for its users, and that means offering sellers a wide range of services that help them to advertise products in the best possible way.
All of the ad types offered through AMS are built around the concept of visibility. This means that there are many different possible placements for ads – from the shopping results to a product detail page – to ensure that your ads are seen. However, the exact placement of your ad will depend on what ad type you select, and how you set up your campaign. Here’s what you can expect from each type:
Sponsored Product Ads
Sponsored Products ads can be featured in the Amazon search results, either at the top, middle, or bottom of the search results page. Depending on how you’ve set up your campaign, these ads can also appear on the product detail page of a similar product, or on browse pages. Regardless of where the ad is placed, any user that clicks on the ad will be directed to the product listing page for the advertised item.
Sponsored Brands Ads
Sponsored Brands ads appear as banners – much like banner ads – at the top, left, or bottom of the search results, as well as in the mobile app. Like Sponsored Products ads, these banners can also appear on product detail pages for similar products.
Sponsored Display Ads
Sponsored Display ads can be placed in a number of places depending on the targeting options that you choose. If you choose product targeting, your ad will only be placed on the Amazon platform. This can be in the search results, or on product pages. However, if you choose audience targeting, you can expect to see your ad not only on Amazon but in other places across the web for retargeting purposes. There are a number of third party sites that these ads can be displayed on. They are usually Amazon partner sites, or Amazon owned sites, like IMDb and Twitch.
How to Qualify for Amazon Marketing Services
To qualify for AMS, you’ll need to have a professional seller account or vendor account with Amazon. To start using the advertising features included within Amazon Marketing Services, you’ll also need to participate in Amazon’s Brand Registry Programme. More than 700,000 brands in over 20 countries are already signed up to the scheme, which helps brands to protect their Amazon listings.
The only exception to this is if you’re only wanting to use Sponsored Products ad types. Sellers do not need to be in the Brand Registry scheme to run these ads, but they do need to have a professional seller account, which costs £25 per month.
How to Use the Amazon Ad Console (AMS) Step by Step
All three types of Amazon PPC ad are built and managed through the Amazon ad console, which can be accessed through Seller Central, Vendor Central, or Advantage Central. The interface is very simple and intuitive, making it easy for all sellers to use, regardless of their advertising experience. Your first Amazon Advertising campaign can be launched in just minutes using this straightforward 10-step process:
1. In the advertising tab in the ad console, select ‘create campaign’
- In the advertising tab in the ad console, select ‘create campaign’
- Choose your preferred ad type from the three available options
- Select the ASINs that you want to promote within your campaign
- Name your campaign in a way that helps you easily locate it in the future
- Set your daily budget; ads won’t run when your daily budget runs out
- Decide how long you want your campaign to run for
- Confirm your preferred targeting option from the available choices
- Add in your keywords if using a keyword-based ad type
- Build your creative, or use any of the Amazon templates available
- Launch your campaign!
The Amazon ad console can also be used to help you advertise in different markets. When signing into your Seller Central or Vendor Central account, changing the country in which you wish to advertise in the drop-down menu can help you to promote and sell your products outside of the UK, and grow your customer base.
Remember that the Amazon ad console doesn’t just help you build and run campaigns, but measure their ongoing performance, too. Within the ad console, you’ll find a number of pre-built reporting options that can help you create more powerful and effective campaigns in the future. Some popular reports include:
- Search terms: See what terms users are searching for to find your product
- Targeting: See how well your keywords are targeting your audience
- Placement: See how ads perform differently based on their position
- Performance over time: See how costs and performance are aligning
- Purchased product: See what your target audience is actually buying
AMS vs Sponsored Products
Sponsored Products is, without a doubt, Amazon’s most popular ad type. And if you’re not currently in the Brand Registry Programme, you may be thinking about just using Sponsored Products alone, without utilising the other features and functions available under the broader Amazon Marketing Services umbrella. It’s easy to see why sellers would want to do this. However, when it comes down to AMS vs Sponsored Products, there really is no competition. Having access to the full advertising potential of AMS can help you reach more people and sell more.
Amazon agrees. In fact, its research shows that advertisers who use Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands together typically see a 12.2% increase in return on advertising spend (ROAS) than those using just one or the other. And those sellers that use all three ad types simultaneously see, on average, 15% better year-on-year sales and an improved ROAS compared to those using Sponsored Products alone.
Amazon Advertising can be hugely effective at reaching the right customers, at the right time. However, it’s only going to deliver value if it’s generating the sort of returns you’re looking for. Therefore, no seller can approach Amazon Advertising without having a strategy for how they’re going to allocate their financial resources.
That’s why it’s so important to understand how bidding for space works for Amazon PPC ads and ensure you’re building a bidding strategy that’s right for your brand.
We go into much more detail about bidding strategies in our expert bidding guide, but essentially there are three approaches to PPC bidding that you can choose:
1. Dynamic Bids – Down Only
As the name suggests, this strategy allows Amazon to automatically bid lower than your default bid. However, it cannot bid any higher than the bid that you set. Amazon can reduce your bid by up to 100% if it thinks that your ad is unlikely to be clicked for a particular search term, even if your product is relevant to that term.
With a default bid of £1, the actual amount you’ll bid will vary from £0 – £1.
2. Dynamic Bids – Up and Down
Again, this bidding strategy is very self-explanatory; it means that Amazon can automatically lower or raise your bid. If an ad is less likely to covert, the bid can be lowered by 100%, as with the down only strategy. If an ad is likely to perform well, the bid can be raised by 50% – 100% depending on where the ad is placed on Amazon.
With a default bid of £1, the actual amount you’ll bid will vary from £0 – £1.50 or £2.
3. Fixed Bids
Fixed bids means exactly that: the default bid that you set in your campaign is the amount that you bid for ad space, every single time. Amazon cannot adjust your bid, either up or down. There are pros and cons to this. You’ll have highly predictable advertising costs, but you could be wasting bids or missing opportunities.
With a default bid of £1, the actual amount you’ll bid will be exactly £1.
Amazon ads are designed to be easy to use for all sellers, so that every brand selling on Amazon can attract and engage potential customers and maximise sales and conversions. However, you’re likely to see improved ad performance and better outcomes if you spend a little time optimising your campaign for optimal results.
Here are some simple optimisations to help you get more from your campaigns:
Optimise your ad creative
Not too great at the creative side of things? That could work in your favour. Amazon’s research shows that simple ads are the best ads, with the more basic adverts being associated with a 2.4x higher clickthrough rate. So try not to get too fancy or over-the-top. Stick to delivering a simple, straightforward message to users.
Optimise your landing pages
A common mistake that many sellers make is that they drive all their effort into making themselves look good in the search results, forgetting that shoppers actually click through to a custom landing page. No matter how good your ad is, if your landing page doesn’t engage shoppers, you’re unlikely to see many conversions.
Optimise your content
To support the customer’s decision making process and buying journey, optimise your content – your titles, descriptions, and images – to provide them with all the information you need. You may wish to use the A+ content tool, which Amazon notes can improve conversion rates by 5.6% thanks to better user engagement.
Optimise your keywords
You can optimise your keywords for best effect by selecting the most appropriate match type for your goals. There are three match types to choose from: broad, phrase, and exact match. The match type you choose can have a big impact on the quality and number of Amazon users that each of your ads is displayed for.
One of the most important things to remember is that Amazon Marketing Services optimisation is not a onetime activity. Customer behaviours are always changing. Business goals are always changing. Your campaigns are constantly being adapted to maintain their relevance as the retail landscape evolves. And so optimisation should be a regular and ongoing part of your Amazon Advertising journey.
Amazon Marketing Services Best Practices
Here are a few of our top tips for using Amazon Advertising with confidence:
Understand your goals
There’s no one single reason why brands choose to use Amazon Advertising. Some want to increase product sales, while others want to maximise brand visibility. Some want to acquire new customers, while others are more focused on building loyalty.
That’s why Amazon Advertising is so customisable; there are many different ways to set up campaigns that all align with different types of goals.
Understanding exactly what you want to get out of Amazon Advertising before diving in is key to success.
Understand your products
As well as understanding your products, you should also understand your products, and how they align with your goals. This makes it easier to select the most suitable products to promote.
For example, if you wanted to improve all-round sales, focusing on bestsellers which can essentially ‘sell themselves’ may not be the best strategy.
Similarly, if your goal is to acquire new-to-brand customers, attracting them with older products that they may already have refused can be detrimental.
Test your ads
Amazon enables Brand Registry sellers to test out multiple versions of their ads to determine which drives the best results.
With the A/B testing tool, two similar yet different ads can be run through Amazon simultaneously, displaying one of the ads at random.
There may be differences in the title, description, images, or more. Through testing, you can easily see which performs better, opting to retire the worse performing ad and moving full steam ahead with the one that performs as needed.
One thing that sellers should never do is let an ad run without continually tracking how it’s performing. Ad performance can change rapidly, and without warning, depending on customer behaviours and the wider retail landscape.
Close monitoring allows you to adapt quickly as needed. A good method of tracking is to monitor your advertising cost of sale, or ACoS. This compares how much you’re spending on PPC advertising to the amount that advertising is generating.
Work with professionals
Even though Amazon Marketing Services is designed to be simple, to really get the most out of it it’s sometimes necessary to employ more advanced techniques that maximise campaign effectiveness.
That’s why smart sellers partner with Amazon Advertising experts, like us here at ClearAds. We’re helping brands just like yours to derive even more value from Amazon Marketing Services, and fully utilise the features within the Amazon ad console to attract, engage, and delight audiences. Get in touch to find out how we can help.