Amazon Advertising – Made Easy

Mason Shannon

The Amazon Advertising marketing platform (formerly known as Amazon Marketing Services and/or AMS) can be daunting at best. With decisions lurking around every turn regarding ad types, manual vs. automatic keywords, ASINs, and so much more, a blog post dedicated to all of AMS alone, could quickly become several dozen pages long and require many hours of reading time. So we’ve simplified our overview, by breaking each topic out into granular detail. This post is simply outlining ad types, pros vs. cons, their purposes and the way that each can benefit your brand. Additional details regarding ad types and definitions, where the ads are shown, where the shopper is directed by ad type, and more are readily available within Amazon’s own help pages. However, even with that info, the different ad types and their practical applications can be overwhelming.

In this article I intend to share some of my high-level strategies for utilizing each of the various Amazon ad types:

Sponsored Products Ads

In my opinion, the single best place to start when one is introduced to the Amazon ad platform is with Sponsored Product (SP) ads. SP ads are the most commonly used advertising type, they are keyword-targeted and offer the most website placement opportunities of all the ad types. Additionally, SP ads are high visibility with a good probability of qualified customer clicks considering that they typically show up within the “organic” search results on a given search engine results page (SERP). These ads also look and feel right at home in the SERP and the ads are only presented to shoppers who are already in the market for (and shopping/searching for) a specific product and related keyword phrase.

I generally recommend that SP ads should account for about 60-70% of your total ad type mix and budget. In certain instances, SP ads can represent up to 100% of your total budget, especially when or if your budget is relatively modest compared to brand competitors. Either way, I always recommend an initial “test-and-learn” strategy for anyone starting out on the Amazon Advertising/AMS platform. Begin your learning by testing each of the different ad types simultaneously in order to identify which tactic delivers the best return of investment for your brand/products.

Sponsored Brands Ads (formerly Headline Search Ads)

The Sponsored Brands Ads type has recently transitioned from Headline Search Ads (HSA) and those are now displayed in a range of various locations throughout the SERP. These ads still show the same format as their predecessor (in terms of showing three products or ASINs in the ad) but placement and impressions are potentially increased thanks to this change. Sponsored Brands ads provide relatively moderate visibility however they are arguably less appealing than the standard SP ad given they simply look more like an advertisement and therefore may be less likely to earn a customer click. Regardless, this specific ad type brings an opportunity for marketing teams to focus on double strategy of brand awareness and messaging. Not only are you’able to utilize a 50-character string for messaging but you’re also given the option to place your brand logo within the ad copy and even link to the brand store page to highlight the brand and the entire family of related products on Amazon.

As a general recommendation, I would suggest Sponsored Brands Ads account for 20-30% of your total ad type mix/budget and would almost always recommend the distribution of budget against ad types be determined on a case-by-case basis with sufficient comparison (aka A/B) ad testing.

Product Display Ads

Product Display Ads can essentially have two different objectives. The first goal relates to brand intention (as in defending your branded keywords against com defensiveness). The second is to go on offense with a more aggressive “conquest” approach (using keywords to acquiring customer traffic from direct competitors or complementing/relevant products from other brands).

When using Product Display Ads to defend your own brand, products and detail pages this ad type is also well-suited for cross-merchandising. For example, advertising a BBQ grill cover on that same BBQ grill’s product detail page offers a classic and logical up-sell opportunity, This also ensures that your advertised products are primarily what the customer sees while essentially in your brand’s Amazon “sales funnel.” In this scenario, Product Display Ads also include a relatively low ad spend but with a high return (and who can argue with positive ROI…?).

Using Product Display Ads to approach customers on competitor’s product detail page (we call this “conquesting”) is a great ad type tactic to persuade customers that are already in the buying funnel of a competitor’s product, over onto your detail page and hopefully to purchase your product. It’s worth noting that this tactic is typically a higher-spend approach and can include a lower return (negative ROI) scenario.

All else being equal, Product Display Ads are the Amazon ad types that I recommend implementing at the lowest frequency. You might consider saving this ad type for limited runs and for when you’re able to fully and efficiently utilize Sponsored Products Ads and Sponsored Brands Ads and still have additional budget to spare. When you reach that stage and are ready to implement Product Display Ads, we suggest that they should represent 0-15% of your total budget.


While the notes captured above speak to my years of Amazon ad-type budgeting, these notes are intended (for brevity) to be general and should only be used as a guideline while you get up to speed on the Amazon Advertising and marketing platform. As noted several times in this article, the world of Amazon Advertising is very much a test-and-learn environment where every brand/advertiser should come in with eyes wide open and be prepared to find their own custom strategy that works best for their unique needs.

Here at Zanoma, we have a team of Amazon experts ready to help you with strategy, execution, optimization and ultimately to help identify the path of success for your brand on Amazon while leveraging Amazon advertising. For more information or to learn more as to how Zanoma can help your brand succeed on Amazon, contact us today!

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