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Susie Hood

PPC and the ‘other’ major search engine - a look at Amazon ad opportunities

As Amazon bids to break the advertising duopoly of Google and Facebook, we look at the advertising opportunities available on the shopping platform.

Could Amazon play a key role in your paid advertising mix?


If we talk about search engines, we’re going to mention Google and Bing, but should we stop there? Research by marketing tech company, Kenshoo, claims that up to 72% of users surveyed visited Amazon before making a product purchase to conduct research.

This is significant, as it highlights the role that Amazon plays higher up the conversion funnel, as a source of information. This, in turn, makes Amazon advertising such an interesting proposition. It allows the advertiser to influence the customer prospect during the info-gathering phase of their shopping activity.

Better yet, it allows the advertiser to utilise a wealth of keyword search data and user behaviour activity.

It’s one thing to turn to Google’s Keyword Planner, and to ensure that your website is optimised for popular, relevant search terms. But what about the growing number of people who are cutting out the Google search and punching their requests into Amazon?

We’ve already seen the rise of the Amazon browser extension, allowing people to search for a product on Amazon before they even load the site.

But how do you control which of the many relevant products Amazon serves to the user during a search?

You could start by trialling one of Amazon’s three self-service advertising products:

  • Sponsored products
  • Headline search ads
  • Product display ads



Amazon Sponsored Products, which works in much the same way as Google Shopping.

Product information is pulled directly from the page to populate the ad, which includes the product image, title, price and Amazon rating.

Of course, along with price point, your Amazon rating could be the key factor that makes or breaks a sale before a user even clicks. If a company is selling on Amazon and wants to explore Sponsored Products, it may first be important to review current ratings and address any issues there.

On the flip-side, if you have a better rated product than a competitor, you might choose to run a targeted ad to gain exposure with their customers. This brings us to your options for targeting the campaign.

You can target users in one of two ways: automatic or manual.

Whether as an easy way to kick things off, or as a way to identify keywords, automatic targeting could be useful, by targeting users based only on the content of your product page.

Best of all, if the product is out of stock, the ad doesn’t run, meaning no wasted expenditure.

Manual targeting, however, puts the power in your hands, allowing you to choose which keywords you target in the campaign. Much like Google targeting, keywords can be targeted on exact match, broad match or phrase match. You select your keyword and select your bid.

You can target relevant generic keywords to capture people at the decision making phase of their online journey, or you could even target at a branded term, to gain exposure where you know a competitor may generate more searches but you have a relevant alternative to show. This brings us back to reviews, where a highly rated alternative could be served as a highly rated alternative on a competitor search term.

A key way in which targeting differs from the Google PLA’s, which sponsored products resemble so much, is that sellers can spread targeting further to incorporate cross-selling.

A Google Shopping ad for a certain type of product should only serve ads for that product in particular. With Amazon, sellers can target a search for Product X, and serve an ad for Product Y if I believe prospective customers will be looking for those too.

Of course, the greater the relevance of the ad, the greater the potential return on investment, so cross-selling may not be the first port of call for a seller with a small trial budget.

Sponsored products are paid for by the click, using an auction based pricing model. Sellers set the maximum spend per click, with the aim of being competitive and therefore gaining better visibility on the page.



Headline search ads appear as a banner on the Amazon search results page. This banner is used to direct searchers to another Amazon page, which could be a brand page or a modified search results page. So, they search for product X, but your banner directs them to a search for “X”+ your brand name. They can also click through to a product page by clicking on the product image within the ad. This highlights the difference in functionality between a headline ad and a traditional banner ad.

Like most forms of display advertising, Headline Search Ads could be considered useful for brand building and customer education.

Amazon provides performance data, which can illustrate the direct effectiveness of the headline ad; particularly the detail page view metric. This illustrates whether the ad clicker went on to view the specific details of one of the products that were presented to them.

If customers aren’t viewing specific product details, they may be taking value from the ads, by learning about your brand, but they aren’t engaging directly with the product range.



PDA’s are different from sponsored products and headline search ads because they are not targeted by keyword. They are targeted by a relevant product or behavioural segment. This is another way of leveraging Amazon’s user data.

Simply choose a product type, a product category or an interest segment and your ad will be served by page depending on the competitiveness of your bid.

Product display ads aren’t served in search results, but on the product details page or on customer reviews.

Using the Amazon interface, the sellers searches for products, and can select the products on which they would like their ads to appear. Again, this can be used as a cross-selling tactic or a way of taking sales from a competitor.

These ads can be used to appeal for customers at a more advanced stage of the sales/decision-making funnel.

So, we can see that Amazon is not only a powerful tool for capturing sales in a growing market, using detailed customer behaviour data, but in fact an Amazon advertising campaign can be used to contact different customers at different stages of their journey: the customer with a product or topic in mind who may simply be looking for information, or the customer in an advanced phase of their e-commerce journey, but who may still be open to a better, competitively priced, and more highly rated alternative.

The important thing to remember is that Amazon should not only be viewed as a sales platform, but a search engine in its own right.

We can help! Give our fashion retail team a call today on, 0800 011 9715 or visit Fashion Digital Marketing.

If you have a business in the financial sector and would like to up your marketing game or receive some expert information about digital marketing for financial services, then get in touch with a member of our team!

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