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The Basics of Amazon Marketing & Advertising Services

Launched in 2012, Amazon Advertising (formerly Amazon Marketing Services or AMS) journeyed through a number of iterations before arriving at its current sophisticated state. Amazon Advertising seeks to fill the needs of sellers and vendors both established and unestablished, large and small, by offering “numerous advertising capabilities".

Amazon's Marketing Platform

Over the years, AMS has developed into Amazon’s increasingly powerful and user friendly advertising platform. It’s available for use by a wide variety of sellers and vendors, and even is partly what Amazon uses itself to advertise (i.e. Amazon’s DSP service, see below). Generally speaking, then, Amazon’s AMS offers numerous advertising capabilities to connect businesses with prospects and customers.

What Types of Amazon Ads Are There?

Amazon’s AMS has many features built in that purport to help both the experienced and inexperienced business owner and advertiser. Whether you’re struggling to generate the kinds of sales your goals are telling you that you should be achieving or if you’re hitting your milestones with all cylinders running, AMS has a feature, technique, and advertising avenue just for your needs. Mostly, these ads work on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis, wherein you’re only charged by Amazon if a customer clicks on your ad (therefore, you’re not charged for impressions). With that said, here in a brief encapsulation is a rundown of the many and varied advertising avenues available to users of Amazon’s AMS.

Sponsored Products

Your products can appear on page one of a customer’s search results, often at the top or elsewhere as a user scrolls down. They appear the same as the rest of the search results, save for a “Sponsored” heading, which is unobtrusive. In addition to appearing within search results, your product ad can show up on a product’s page, as well, in a section with other sponsored products that are related. When a customer clicks on your sponsored product ad, he or she is taken directly to the product page.

Sponsored Brands

Sponsored brand ads work a little differently than product ads in that instead of building awareness for your product you’re building awareness for your brand. Thus, the ads appear in a different way, too, all across the first row of search results. When a customer clicks on your brand, he or she is taken to your Amazon store’s page or a custom-designed landing page. Here’s how it looks: A customer types in a search for a kind of toy or clothing, and if your ad matches the search request – and meets a few other CPC parameters – a logo of your brand and a few of your products will appear prominently on the page. This is useful for both new and established companies: for new companies, you’re able to compete with the big boys in search results, your entire brand discoverable and placed above the big-time companies; for established companies, you’re able to increase profits even more by placing yourself above competing clients in search results.


Having mentioned the dedicated Amazon store above, here’s a bit more detail about how it really works. With your own Amazon store, you’re given a dedicated URL included after – – and a multi-page web store to use as you see fit. Fill your store with your theme, color, and message using Amazon’s pre-designed templates. You do no coding, just dragging and dropping components into place. This makes your brand recognizably yours and memorable, as well, due to the simple URL.

Display Ads

Display ads are separate from search results, appearing in a sidebar or at the top of the page, and they have a separate function. With many formats available, these ads catch the eyes of users browsing Amazon’s pages. Surprisingly, however, these ads can also appear to users across the web – outside of Amazon. Ads don’t have to take users only to Amazon stores, either. In fact, users clicking on display ads may be taken to Amazon stores, product pages, custom-designed landing pages, or websites external to Amazon. One doesn’t even have to sell on Amazon to purchase and use display ads, nor does one need to design the ads him or herself, though one can. Amazon provides ad design as part of the package, if desired.

Video Ads

Video ads are somewhat similar to display ads, except they of course contain videos instead of static images. These videos appear at the top or middle of Amazon’s pages and may take users to a product page, Amazon store, or another website outside of Amazon. Like displays, video ads will appear on Amazon and across the web. A company doesn’t need to sell on Amazon to use video ads. And these ads also may be designed by Amazon itself or your own creative department.

Custom Ads

Specialize your content with this Amazon resource. Custom ads can combine video with static images and products. They can also feature video only, with unique content that feels one of a kind. There are many different ways to go in this category. With custom ads, a company must work solely with Amazon’s ad people.

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Amazon DSP (Demand-Side Platform)

Use the same brand safety and traffic quality tech as Amazon itself to create and evaluate the performance of display and video ads across Amazon, its devices, and other websites. These powerful ad tracking and assessment tools give you large amounts of control over your ad campaign, and the detailed analytics and insights allow you to fine tune your campaign to maximize advertising dollars and ROI (return on investment). Amazon DSP is designed for companies wishing to ramp up their advertising by purchasing display and video ads at scale. Bear in mind that like other services listed here, you do or do not have to be an Amazon seller to use this service.

The Benefits of Amazon Marketing

Like an app with a deceptively simple interface that in actuality has an unexpected complexity and depth, Amazon’s AMS may appear too graphically appealing to warrant much impression beyond aesthetics; however, ignore its fantastic intricacies at your own peril. With AMS you can discover incredible customer targeting capabilities, both on Amazon and on the web. New and established companies can build brand awareness and brand visibility, helping new companies become established and established companies perfect their ROI (return on investment). With these results, companies can boost sales and CPC ad conversion rates, subsequently leading to a higher return on ad spend.

Best Practices of Amazon Marketing

Keyword Research

Keyword targeting remains essential to the success of your ad campaign. Amazon uses the keywords you come up with to match user search results with your product or brand ads. Not only will Amazon match keywords to searches, it will also note any negative keywords you supply. Negative keywords will keep your ad from displaying if a customer is searching for something in which you don’t want your ad showing. For success here, choose keywords for phrases you know customers search for. Product targeting allows you to choose a competitor’s product(s) and attach your ad to them. When a customer searches for their product, yours will come up in the results or on the product page. There are also many different keywords you can include for one of your ads, so managing the performance of these keywords is vastly important. It’s also important to not be afraid of long tail keywords in your campaign. With Amazon’s capabilities, you can note low performing keywords and mute them, increasing your budget toward keywords that are performing well. This strategy and many others are at your disposal with AMS.

Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget is essential both before and during the campaign. Of course, at first you’re figuring out how much it costs to compete with other advertisers. Once you get a handle on that, though, you can maintain a steady budget flow. You can control the budget daily at any time, and Amazon will not spend more of your daily budget than you specify.

Know Bidding Types

As stated earlier, the main way you compete with AMS ads is through CPC bidding. You’re only charged if a customer clicks on your bid. There’s also a bid range Amazon tracks for each keyword or product target. The example given on Amazon’s advertising help page is a range of $0.40 to $1.40 with an Amazon-suggested $0.70 bid. You may choose any amount to bid depending on how much you value the keyword. Perhaps it’s $0.70, $0.40, $1.40, or even more than that for a particularly valuable keyword.

Be Patient

Remind yourself as you begin your first AMS ad campaign that you are not entering upon a game of checkers, mid match, but a contest of chess before the board has even been set. Patience is key, as is record keeping and self education.

Meet Your Target ACoS

ACoS (advertising cost of sales) is a simple math formula that divides the total cost of the ad campaign by the total sales and multiplying the total by 100 to get a percentage. Again, from Amazon’s advertising help page, is their example formula: “ACoS = total ad spend / total ad sales x 100.” To put numbers to that, $2 advertising / $20 sales x 100 = 10% ACoS.

To conclude

Amazon Advertising provides many, many different ways to control and use your advertising dollars to reach here-to-fore-unreached Amazon and other web/device users. Give it a try and see if your brand awareness and/or products can gain a wider audience, achieve greater sales, and place your company on a new level of competitiveness. If you have any questions about Amazon Advertising or how you can get started, feel free to give us a shout - we're always happy to hear about your project!

  • Digital Marketing

  • Paid Media

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About the author

Morgan Oakes

Morgan is the Paid Media Director at Marcel Digital, specializing in creative ways to provide solutions in paid advertising platforms for all types of goals.

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