Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) — Understanding the Basics of Amazon Advertising

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) — Understanding the Basics of Amazon Advertising
By Robin Hanna in Amazon PPC. Last updated on

Amazon is swiftly expanding its ad business and brands are loving it. Almost half of all brands selling on Amazon spend more than $40,000 on advertising per month — usually via Amazon Marketing Services or Amazon AMS

Other reports show that some marketers are moving 60% of their budgets from Google to Amazon. The attraction lies with the wealth of information at Amazon’s disposal — and the rapid diversification of its powerful advertising tools. 

Advertisers have talked about the influence of Amazon Marketing Services for so long that they might still refer to it as Amazon AMS — even though it has since been rebranded as Amazon Advertising. 

How is advertising on Amazon structured now? Which tools should you use to maximize profit, and which to raise brand awareness?

Here’s everything you need to know about the legendary Amazon AMS.

Want to master Amazon Sponsored Ads like a pro? Download our free Amazon PPC Cheatsheet!

What Is Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)?

  • Amazon Marketing Services was the collective term for Sponsored Products, Headline Search Ads (HSA), and Product Display Ads (PDA). 
  • In contrast to the impression-based Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP), AMS-tools were Cost-Per-Click. 
  • The platform that hosted these products was also called Amazon AMS.  

Why Was Amazon AMS Rebranded to Amazon Advertising?

In an effort to make advertising on Amazon simpler and more accessible to a wider audience, Amazon retired the names Amazon Media Group (AMG), Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), and Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) in September 2018 and announced

“From now on we are simply Amazon Advertising”. 

To reflect the unification of its brand, Amazon Advertising also renamed some of its legacy products. 

  • Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is now called ‘Advertising Console’*
  • * This is Amazon’s official rebranding — in fact, Amazon AMS is the collection of self-service, click-based solutions collectively known as Sponsored Ads and Stores. The ‘Advertising Console’ is simply the place in seller and vendor central where you can access these self-service solutions.
  • Headline Search Ads (HSA) are now ‘Sponsored Brands
  • Product Display Ads (PDA) are now part of ‘Sponsored Display’
  • Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) is now ‘Amazon DSP’

Confused? Understandable — it’s a lot of new terms. Here’s an overview to help you with the structure of the old Amazon AMS and the new Amazon Advertising.

flowchart explaining the structure of the old Amazon Marketing Services AMS and the new Amazon Advertising.

How does Amazon Marketing Services Work?

In a nutshell, Amazon Advertising offers: 

a) products that operate via PPC (Cost-Per-Click) and
b) products that operate via impressions (Cost-Per-Thousand).

PPC products were located in AMS (now Amazon Ad Console), impression-based products in AAP (now Amazon DSP). This article deals with the Pay-Per-Click products in Amazon Marketing Services.

The Amazon AMS products have a clear main benefit: They show your product to as many relevant shoppers. Also they offer the following interesting possibility:  

Amazon Marketing Services enable you to target individual product detail pages. 

Your ad will appear just when shoppers are about to buy a competitor’s product, giving you a chance to change their minds at the last minute.

The majority of Amazon AMS is now branded as “Get Started” self-service solutions and includes:

Generic illustration of the advertising position of sponsored products

Sponsored Products

Promote products to shoppers searching for specific keywords or viewing similar products on Amazon.

Generic illustration of the advertising position of sponsored brands

Sponsored Brands

Showcase a collection of products to shoppers searching for specific keywords on Amazon.

Generic illustration of the advertising position of sponsored display

Sponsored Display

Re-engage shoppers on and off Amazon who viewed your products or similar products, and drive them to your detail page.

To keep things simple, we will continue to use the term AMS for the PPC group of products.

In the following section, you will find all there is to know about the tools offered by Amazon Marketing Services — with a particular focus on Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands (collectively known as Sponsored Ads). 

Why Is Amazon AMS Important?

Amazon dedicates an increasing amount of its screen real estate to advertisements:

Overview showing the ad placements of the different amazon formats and products on a single search page as part of  Amazon Marketing Services AMS

Amazon AMS Ads Placements — Where Do Sponsored Product Ads Appear?

Sponsored Products Ads can appear at the top, in the middle or at the bottom of the search results, as well as browse pages and product detail pages. 

Overview showing the placements of Amazon Sponsored Products on desktop as part of Amazon Marketing Services AMS
Overview showing the placements of Amazon Sponsored Products on mobile devices like smart phone and tablet in browser and app as part of Amazon Marketing Services AMS

Amazon Marketing Services: Ads Placements — Where Do Sponsored Brands Ads Appear?

Sponsored Brands banners can appear above, to the left and at the very bottom of the search results. In the mobile app, they can also appear in the middle. 

amazon sponsored brands ads placements as part of Amazon Marketing Services AMS

The top row placement in SERP — and the custom headline — really grab the shopper’s attention. The real power of Sponsored Brands, however, lies in brand awareness: The big, eye-catching logo at the front of the banner leads shoppers to an exclusive brand store or custom landing page.

You can customize each of these targets to match the taste and interest of your audience and create the brand experience you aim for. 

Using Amazon AMS: How to Sign up for Amazon Marketing Services

Now that you know how important it is to present your brand, you may ask yourself: How does Amazon Marketing Services work? Can I access AMS as a seller? 

Here’s a breakdown of how each AMS product works and how to sign up for Amazon Marketing Services.

Amazon Advertising Console, or Amazon Marketing Services as it used to be called, is a platform reserved for vendors. The good news: Even though the Amazon Advertising Console looks a little slicker, Sellers can access the same advertising options via the campaign manager in Seller Central.

Screenshot of the old amazon marketing services AMS dashboard
Source: Amazon

The old Amazon Marketing Services. The current advertising suite in Seller Central still looks like this.

Screenshot of the new amazon marketing services AMS advertising console for vendors dashboard
Source: Amazon

The new Advertising Console for Vendors. Amazon redesigned it to improve navigation and introduce a feature to manage users such as different ad accounts.  

Sellics Dashboard PPC Manager Amazon Advertising

The view in Sellics Seller Edition, Vendor Edition and Agency Edition, where you can easily manage, analyze, and optimize everything from campaigns to keywords — now with full automation!

Amazon is slowly consolidating the advertisement opportunities for sellers and vendors, so the similarities here are unsurprising. Note that as with many Amazon Advertising products, you need to be brand-registered in order to use them as a seller. The exception: Sponsored Products.

How is AMS different from basic Sponsored Products?

AMS as a platform, i.e. today’s Advertising Console, is only accessible to vendors. Sellers find the same features, including sponsored products, as part of their advertising suite in Seller Central: Advertising > Campaign Manager.

Bidding 101: How to Advertise with AMS on Amazon

Auction model

When shoppers search for products, Amazon runs real-time auctions to decide which ads to display. The competing ads are ranked and displayed to shoppers based on a combination of your bid and the ad’s relevance to the search terms.

Sponsored Ads are cost-per-click, meaning you bid the amount you are willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. 

Around the same time as the rebranding, Amazon Advertising also introduced a set of new bidding strategies for Sponsored Products that can cause your bid to exceed your cost-per-click bid. For more information on “Dynamic bids – up and down” go here.

Types of AMS Ads: When to use which Amazon Advertising Format?

Comparison of amazon ad placements sponsored brands sponsored products as part of Amazon Marketing Services AMS

As a rule of thumb, Sponsored Products are most effective in the lower funnel (buying stage), while Sponsored Brands ads rather serve the upper funnel (brand awareness).

Sponsored Products

How much do Sponsored Products cost?

Sponsored Products are generally more efficient in terms of direct profitability than Sponsored Brands because they target customers with a specific buying interest. 

Sponsored Product ads run on daily budgets, i.e. the amount you’re willing to pay on a campaign each day. The minimum daily budget for Sponsored Product Ads is $1. You will be charged when a shopper clicks your ad. Remember that shoppers can only click your ad if your bid was high enough for them to see it. You’ll receive an invoice for the total cost of clicks at the end of the month. 

Requirements

You need to be a professional seller or vendor. Your products need to be eligible for Sponsored Products — Go here for all eligibility requirements for Sponsored Products ads.

Targeting Options

The targeting potential for Sponsored Products is so vast that it’s one of the main selling points of this advertising format. Your ideal combination of SP tweaks depends chiefly on your advertising strategy and budget. The subject of SP targeting is so boundless that we can only provide a superficial list of features here. Check out the rest of our blog for a deeper dive into keyword targeting and product targeting.      

In a nutshell:

Keyword targeting matches your ads with the search terms shoppers use. Product targeting matches your ads with products, categories, brands, or other product features.

Another dimension of targeting for Sponsored Products is automatic vs manual targeting. In automatic targeting, Amazon uses default strategies to match your ads to a shopper’s search. In manual targeting, you design your own targeting strategy. You control the granularity of this strategy with match types (broad, phrase, or exact). Nowadays, you even have a degree of control over automatic targeting (called close match, loose match, substitutes and complements).

Advanced SP Strategies

An efficient Sponsored Products campaign has three steps: structural preparation, campaign setup, and continuous optimization. Extremely summarized, our recommended PPC strategy involves collecting data with an automatic campaign, then refining it via the different match types of a manual campaign. To learn more, please study our step-by-step instructions for creating and maintaining optimal PPC campaigns.

Sponsored Brands — Previously Headline Search Ads HSA

How much do Sponsored Brands cost?

The minimum daily budget for Sponsored Brands ads is $1. Unlike Sponsored Products, however, you also have the option to use a lifetime budget for Sponsored Brands campaigns, which is the amount you are willing to spend on the campaign as long as it runs. The minimum budget here is $100 — when it’s used up, the campaign will stop serving ads. 

Requirements

Before the rebrand, Sponsored Brands were called Headline Search Ads — and were only available to Vendors. They are now available for professional sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, vendors, book vendors, and agencies. Go here for all eligibility requirements for Sponsored Brands ads.  

Targeting Options

Sponsored Brand ads offer a variety of landing pages for your ad traffic: When shoppers click your logo, they go to your Amazon store, a simple landing page, or a custom landing page (that shows all your backpacks, for example. When shoppers click on a product, they go to the product detail page.

Leveraging targeting options for Sponsored Brands is limited and somewhat old school. For example, you don’t have any product targeting options. Instead, all you can do is make sure your keyword set is optimal and fine-tuned with the right match type. You can also move unwanted keywords to a negative list. 

Advanced Sponsored Brands Strategies

  1. You need to provide your own ad creative and headline, which will have a significant impact on your CTR. Stick to these creative guidelines.
  2. Amazon’s New-To-Brand metrics show you if the shopper who made a purchase from your Sponsored Brand ad was a new or returning customer. The four metrics are new-to-brand orders, new-to-brand sales, % of new-to-brand orders, and % of new-to-brand sales. You can use this feature to estimate the cost of acquiring new customers on Amazon and assess the effectiveness of Sponsored Brands regarding your specific campaign goals.

    For more on this topic, check out our Beginner’s Guide for Running Effective Sponsored Brand Ads.
  3. With the new advertising placements to the left and the bottom of the page, Amazon also introduced bidding capabilities to manage the various placements. You can use Amazon’s automated bidding function (which is the default setting for all your campaigns) or set up your own custom bid adjustments.
Image shows Amazon’s automated bidding function for Sponsored Brands

Sponsored Ads Portfolios — Additional Sponsored Ads Management

If you’re running a number of diverging campaigns, consider organizing your Sponsored Ads in customizable portfolios. You are free to sort your campaigns according to brands, product categories, and seasonality, for example. 

Portfolios have two main benefits:

  • One master budget limit for multiple campaigns
  • Accumulated performance data across all campaigns in a group 
Flowchart illustrating the use of Sponsored Ads Portfolios

In September 2019, Amazon added a further product to its self-service advertising suite: Sponsored Display. It enables vendors and sellers with a registered brand to create display ads that appear on and off Amazon, in apps or websites of the Amazon Ad Network. 

What’s new? 

In contrast to the vendor-only Product Display Ads, Sponsored Display Ads are also available to Sellers. For the first time, Sellers can leverage the power of Amazon’s Ad Network to retarget customers with just a few clicks. 

Like the other self-service products, billing for Sponsored Display ads is click-based, so impressions across the board are free. At the time of writing, Sponsored Display is in public beta and only available for US advertisers. 

New KPIs will emerge for Sponsored Display as it rolls out, beginning with the number of page views up to 14 days after a click.  

Product Display Ads

Product Display Ads have been moved around quite a bit in recent times and are now part of the new Sponsored Display service (see above).

Requirements

Product Display Ads used to be part of Amazon Marketing Services, but are and always have been a vendor-only tool. 

Targeting Options

These cost-by-click ads appear primarily under the buy-box, but you may also find them on product detail pages, in the search results, on customer review pages, and on top of the offer listing pages.

You can use either product or interest targeting:

  • Interest targeting shows your ad to potential customers based upon their shopping habits, thus presenting your product to interested people who may not have found it otherwise.
  • Product targeting places your ad on your competitor’s product detail page — or your own. The latter can be a useful strategy if you are selling products that complement each other, like bath towels and soap dishes. On your competitor’s page, your ad is the last thing a shopper sees before clicking the “Add to Cart” button.

You might get some extra sales out of Product Display Ads and even steal some customers last minute, but PDAs are primarily useful for brand awareness. As a Cost-by-Click product, they are a cost-effective way to get your name and logo in front of people. 

Read How to Utilize Amazon Product Display Ads to Beat Your Competitors for more information on PDAs.

Amazon Stores

Amazon Stores is a free service that you can use to exhibit your brand and products exclusively. It includes a very intuitive, easy-to-use store builder to fully customize your “on-Amazon-shop” without writing a single line of code. 

An Amazon Store is a great way to enhance your brand representation on Amazon, build trust with your audience and bring them closer to your brand.

Don’t underestimate the effort needed to create your store: Amazon Stores can be a multi-page experience up to 3 pages deep. Allow 72 h for approval by Amazon.

Targeting Options

Shoppers reach your Store by clicking on your brand name (above the product title) or via your custom URL (usually Amazon.com/BRANDNAME). An easy-to-remember URL is a great way to promote your Amazon presence with external marketing activities. 

The Amazon Store dashboard also provides basic KPIs such as daily visitors, page views, and store-generated sales, and you can track your off-Amazon traffic sources with UTMs.

To Recap:

You now have a comprehensive overview of Amazon AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) and its products, how the service has evolved into the more streamlined Amazon Advertising, and why it’s a good idea to use the available advertising services to grow your Amazon business successfully. 

Amazon Advertising enables you to pursue two main strategies: Increase your sales or raise brand awareness. Use Sponsored Products to beat your competition and make sure shoppers buy your products — use Sponsored Brands to get your logo in front of shoppers and introduce them to your product range.

Complement your strategy with the other tools presented in this overview. Over time, you will find that more sales raise brand awareness and a heightened trust in your brand leads to more sales. At this point, it’s time to refine your process — optimize your keywords, a/b test your headlines, adjust your bids. 

Taking care of your adverts can quickly become overwhelming and, as a result, might end up eating into your budget more than you hoped. Sellics helps you to save time and improve your advertising performance by automating many of the Amazon Advertising processes.

Our software editions for Sellers and Vendors give you a clear view of your profitability — you’ll always know the status of your advertising efforts, giving you peace of mind and freeing you up to maximize your success on Amazon. 

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