Intro to Amazon Marketing Services

Leah DeKok
By Leah DeKok

If you’re an Amazon seller, obviously, your number one goal is to get your products in front of more eyes, and ultimately generate more revenue. After all, the entire Amazon algorithm is designed to figure out what their visitors are there for, and then give it to them. It’s possible you may have relied on different tactics to sell your products and drive traffic to your product pages in the past, and you may have even done so successfully. You could be, even now, doing so successfully.

Regardless of your current strategies, it never hurts to consider your options. Thankfully, Amazon has decided to step up and offer a service that can streamline your sales process and help you reach more customers, and can possibly do so with a significantly less painful dent to your wallet. The Amazon Marketing Services program, fondly dubbed AMS, is becoming the platform of choice for Amazon vendors attempting looking to increase their sales and revenue.

Related: Should I Sell My Product On Amazon? Here’s What You Need to Know

But why would you want to try something new, if your old way seems to be working? Good question. But what if the new way could work even better? Or even just augment what you’re already doing? It’s easier to sell products by advertising on the very same platform you’re attempting to sell those products from, wouldn’t you say? If you think about it, people are already on the Amazon website to purchase. They are well into the buying cycle.

In many cases, they may be looking for something quite specific and that something could be exactly what you are offering.

Amazon Marketing Services Stats

Recently, a consumer review of over 1,000 purchasers from the United States was conducted by PowerReviews. Their findings showed that Amazon is beating out Google as the starting point of entry for customers who are searching for products to purchase.

Obviously Google comes in as a close second. Then of course, the two behemoths are followed up by specific brand and retailer sites. But the fact remains that currently, Amazon is leading the charge in selling online. This is primarily because:

  • They offer a wealth of consumer reviews when investigating a product
  • Most of the time you can get free shipping (especially if you’re a Prime member)
  • Often, the products customers are shopping for are listed as deals with discounted pricing

According to Business Insider and an analysis done by Slice Intelligence, in 2016 Amazon accounted for 43% of all US online retail sales, and that’s up from 33% in the year 2015.

That makes it evident that the number is only continuing to grow. I don’t know about you, but in my book 43% is a pretty hefty slice of the online sales pie. That makes Amazon not only the place to be when selling something, but also the place to be when attempting to advertise something.

Overview Of Amazon Marketing Services

The AMS platform was first created back in 2012. At first, it was only available to Amazon vendors. Now, it is available to vendors, vendor representatives, and Kindle direct publishing account holders.

However, merchants that are interested in using Amazon Marketing Services must be invited to become a member of the Vendor Central Platform first. The Amazon Marketing Services platform was created primarily to provide targeted, keyword-driven campaigns for Amazon vendors.

Related: Your A-Z Guide on Running a Successful E-Commerce Business

The goal was to help them get their products in front of the right people, at the right time, and ideally, sell more product. Amazon does this by using the massive amount of data they collect to match up shoppers with ads they believe the shopper will resonate with.

Amazon targets these customers using data collected from their shopping history, the related products they search for and buy, as well as search intent data, which basically tracks the way people search for something in the search bar. And of course, they also use data related to keywords and product types.

By bidding on different keywords relevant to your product and niche, you can get your ads in front of customers who are already looking for products like yours.

How Amazon Marketing Services Works

Your pay per-click-ads are managed through the Amazon Marketing Services user interface. While it is not the most streamlined of interfaces and still needs quite a bit of tweaking, it does allow you to track your revenue and your cost per click so that you can determine your ROI.

You can also track what’s called your ACOS, which stands for advertising cost of sale. This metric can sometimes be helpful in determining your ROI and the ad you’re running is profitable.

The biggest major drawback with the AMS interface is the clunkiness (you can’t even delete terminated ads), plus the fact that updates to the reporting can be slow. It can take anywhere from 48 hours to almost a week sometimes for reporting to update the numbers in the UI.

I recommend you use an Excel spreadsheet and come up with your own metric tracking system if you can, to really make the most of your AMS advertising experience and to help you test what works and what doesn’t.

Ad Types Available

Sponsored Products Ads are pay-per-click search ads that are useful for promoting individual products. You can do this by targeting relevant keywords related to your product niche.

These ads typically will display beneath Amazon search results, as well as on the right side of the search results page. These ads will also pop up on product pages beneath the area that shows items “frequently bought together”. This type of ad drives potential customers straight to your product page, so you need to make sure your product page is as optimized for conversions as you can get it.

Related: E-Commerce Best Practices: Make it pretty. Make it easy. Make it current.

This type of ad campaign can give you a lot of visibility, and offer a pretty good ROI, even on a small budget, given you choose the right keywords. The trick though, is finding those valuable keywords. If you do land on some profitable keywords, this ad type is excellent for increasing sales and visibility.

Headline Ads

Headline search ads remind me a bit of website banner ads. These ads display at the top of the search results pages on both desktop and mobile devices. These ads will direct your visitors to just about any page on Amazon that you specify, including brand pages. Often, these types of ads work best using your search terms combined with the product brand name.

You can include up to three products with this type of ad, so they are more effective if you can offer a couple of complementary products together. These ad types are nice because brands can have their own custom headline and logo included in the creative.

This makes them great not just for driving sales, but also for increasing brand awareness, and gaining exposure if your product is not ranking well in organic search results. You can test different headlines and versions of this type of ad to see which type title converts best. Then, when a user clicks, they are sent to a results page with a collection of similar products.

Product Display Ads

Product display ads are another type of ad that you can run that are a little bit different from the other two. These ads are displayed on the detail pages of related products.

These ads do not use keywords for targeting, but use actual products as the targets. Basically, you are targeting products that are like your own. So, for example, if you are selling a skateboard, you would select products that are like skateboards.

You might even choose products like apparel used for skateboarding, or perhaps helmets and knee pads. On the flipside, if you are selling helmets and knee pads, you could target products that require you to use those items, such as skateboards, bikes, motorcycles, scooters, etc. See how the targeted product “compliments” yours?

The Product Display Ads drive traffic straight to your product page, and are excellent tools for targeting competitor products. You can even target competitor products by searching out their UPC or ASIN number.

With these ads, the other option is to target by interest, which is basically categories that are related to your niche. Targeting by interest is not recommended unless the interests are very specific. This type of targeting can gain you a lot of impressions, but the ROI is often not quite as good.

One drawback to this type of ad is that reporting isn’t as helpful. You are only able to get reporting on the campaign itself, not the individual products and how they are performing. This can make it a little more difficult to determine which products offer a good return on investment. However, with careful campaign planning and grouping, it’s not impossible.

Advantages To Amazon Marketing Services

There are several advantages to running PPC campaigns through Amazon Marketing Services. For one thing, the campaigns are relatively easy to create. Though the user interface can be a clunky and slow with reporting (remember that numbers can take anywhere from 48 hours to even a week to update), it is nevertheless, a simple and self-explanatory UI to use. The “copy” feature allows you to duplicate campaigns that you know are working, and do so quickly and easily. Then you can just tweak and adjust them as you test out different ad copy variations and bids.

Additionally, remember that you are advertising on a platform that people are alreadyvisiting to purchase products. This means that your audience is already in a buying mood, and they will offer fewer hurdles to overcome to make the sale, making your CVR much higher than your standard paid media campaigns.

Amazon Marketing Services are (for now) cost-effective. Your CPC is often quite low when compared to other avenues of paid search, which makes your potential ROI much higher. Plus, because the of pay per click model, you are mitigating quite a bit of financial risk and only paying for actions that are beneficial to your bottom line. In other words, you’re not paying for impressions and clicks from people who have zero interest in your products.

Amazon Marketing Services tends to level the playing field if you’re a small fry and not a Big Mac. Amazon’s algo boosts you higher in product search ranks the more sales you get. This makes things frustrating when you’re the little guy. By using Amazon Marketing Services, you can gain the same visibility as that Big Mac, if you’re willing to pay for it. Thankfully, with their current pricing model you can do this without murdering your budget.

Related: Top E-Commerce Trends for 2017

One final benefit to using Amazon Marketing Services is that currently, there are no quality scores with this platform. This means that your CPC’s will stay lower for competitor keywords when compared to other avenues of paid search.

This makes for easy competitor conquesting. Combine that with product display ads that allow you to directly target your competitor’s product pages, and you’ll find the Amazon Marketing Services platform to be an advertising solution that is very attractive indeed.

Leah is a Paid Media Director at Power Digital. After graduating with a Marketing degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee she moved to San Diego. Leah has experience working with Fortune 500 companies and loves the always changing landscape of digital marketing. Her experience includes Paid Search, Display, YouTube, PLA’s and Amazon Marketing.