Advertising on Amazon in 2021: 6 Essential Things to Understand

By |2021-06-11T14:18:33+02:00March 9th, 2021|Amazon Marketing, AmazonMarketingReport, Triopoly|

Keys to Advertising on Amazon in 2021

With Amazon Advertisings’ staggering 66% growth in Q4 of 2020, the giants ad offering is now firmly established in the digital media landscape. Amazon Ads has become part of the Triopoly of Digital Advertising together with Google Ads and Facebook Ads. On top of that, the Amazon advertising platform is pacing well above the baseline Amazon e-commerce growth rate, already impressive at over 30%.

But what is Amazon Advertising and who is it for? Can any advertiser make use of the platform? How does it work? Should your business be advertising on Amazon in 2021?

In our research for the Search Trends Report in 2018, we discovered that search marketers specialized in Google Ads and Bing Ads hadn’t adopted Amazon Ads, and that it was below the radar for many advertisers despite having gained critical mass and experiencing much higher growth than the other ad platforms.

What is Amazon Advertising?

Amazon Advertising is a division within Amazon composed of two different offerings, Amazon Sponsored Ads on one hand, and the Demand-Side Platform, Amazon DSP on the other. The names have changed quite a bit in the past, but names like Amazon Media Group (AMG), Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) and Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) are no longer used.

Amazon still reports on its advertising revenues in a category called “Other” in its quarterly reporting, despite its having passed the 5% mark of Amazon’s earnings.

Amazon Advertising proposes a range of advertising solutions made available to agencies and advertisers inside and outside the marketplace. The primary media placements for Amazon advertisements are inside the marketplace: on product detail pages and in search results pages. Amazon additionally places advertising outside the marketplace on properties it calls O&O: Owned and Operated media. And finally, it has the capability to use ad exchanges such as Rubicon and AppNexus to reach sites completely external to Amazon.

When it comes down to the ads themselves, an Amazon ad can have a wide range of formats. Each depend on the placement and the advertising solution in which it is found. The simplest ads are based on product listings, more advanced ads can be display banners and carrousels, and video is also available in some of the solutions.

Amazon Sponsored Ads or Amazon DSP

Amazon Sponsored Ads and Amazon DSP are two different organisations within Amazon Advertising. The more accessible solution is Amazon Sponsored Ads, which Sellers on the platform can access freely and which is conveniently part of the same accounting as their ecommerce. It is composed of three products, all using the cost per click model (CPC):

  • Amazon Sponsored Products: simple and straight forward keyword-based advertising for product listings.
  • Amazon Sponsored Brands: keyword, product and category targeting for promoting a brand, logo, text message in more prominent position in the marketplace
  • Amazon Sponsored Display: audience targeting, retargeting, display banners using placements inside and outside the marketplace using a CPC model.

The Amazon DSP is a programmatic advertising platform with restricted access. It allows for a much more advanced targeting than Sponsored Display and works on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) model. It is the Rolls Royce of advertising with Amazon.

6 essential things to know about Amazon Advertising

Amazon Advertising is evolving quickly. Not only is it experiencing phenomenal growth, but the platform and the offering also progress. The recent opening of Sponsored Display to inventory outside of the marketplace is a prominent example. But let’s look at some of the things that don’t change. The keys to advertising on Amazon in 2021.

Advertising is an essential part of being an Amazon merchant

Marketing on Amazon involves showcasing, pricing and describing one’s products and making inventory and shipping available to buyers. It is essential but not necessarily enough to have great reviews and ratings to become a best seller. An increasingly important part of the marketing equation is making sure one’s product is visible to buyers by using advertising.

Amazon advertisements are best for endemic advertisers

Amazon distinguishes advertisers whose products can be found on the platform, endemic advertisers, from advertisers whose products are not marketed there. Non-endemic advertisers fall into categories such as automotive, energy, finance, travel and hospitality, telecommunications and gambling.

Endemic advertisers make up the bulk of ads on the platform as the user journey is short and sweet ending in a measurable conversion directly on the platform. Nationwide non-endemic advertisers may however be interested in building an Amazon advertising strategy because of its large exclusive audiences which can’t be reached via any other advertising platform. The other attrative Amazon DSP asset is the rich audience data the platform can make available for targeting purposes.

Link In and Link Out

Whereas the Amazon platform is pretty much a closed garden where you are either inside or outside, there are a few approaches through which traffic is exchanges with the outside world, such as:

  • Amazon DSP campaigns for non-endemic advertisers can link a banner inside the marketplace to a destination outside of Amazon.
  • External advertising can link directly into the marketplace to promote a product outside of the platform. This approach is emerging as a paid search strategy for Amazon-first
  • Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display campaigns can retarget users outside of the Amazon platform to bring them back into the fold.
  • Amazon Influencer partners is an affiliate program where influencers can enter into revenue share deals with merchants on the Amazon platform by promoting the products on their social media or websites and sending users into Amazon to purchase.

Linking in to the platform is still a nascent discipline made difficult by the somewhat rudimentary tracking made available via the affiliate platform or the Amazon Attribution platform.

Amazon Sponsored Product Ads are like AdWords

In our research for the Amazon Marketing Report, we found that Sponsored Products was the most popular product among marketers. It ressembles the Google Ads search product so much that it could have been named Amazon paid search, or even Amazon AdWords, now that Google has abandonned that name.

Amazon Sponsored Products is easy to use because it directly uses the product listing as the ad, targets keywords and even allows marketers to use automatic targeting for refining the keywords that drive conversion.

Amazon Sponsored Products is the first step a Seller will take into advertising, and in many cases it is a necessary step to increase visibility, once the product listings have been optimized and a brand store created.

Amazon DSP is gaining ground

In the world of programmatic advertising, Google DV360 is the incontested leader trailed by TheTradeDesk. The Amazon DSP is quite a bit lower on the list. It has a triple advantage, though: it provides the only access to inventory on the Amazon marketplace, its inventory is experiencing hefty growth, and it has some of the best audience data on purchasing behaviour. Expect to see the Amazon DSP gain more ground in the near future.

The learning center is great

With such a strong growth, a rapidly evolving platform, and a culture of confidentiality, it can be difficult to find reliable information about Amazon Advertising. Luckily, there is the Amazon Learning Console, a training and examination platform freely available and really well structured. In the learning center, anyone with a an account, some time and curiosity can obtain an Amazon Advertising Certification.

Don’t ignore things that grow at 30-70% growth rates.

No serious business person can ignore trends that represent 30-70% growth per annum, except if they are Bitcoin and suddenly drop at the same rates again. The Amazon platform and ecommerce grows continuously and Amazon Ads grows consistently above that rate catching up on other advertising platforms and gaining ground in the digital advertising triopoly.

It is time to figure out how marketplaces in general, Amazon and its advertising dimension in particular can affect your business area and pick up the challenge of competing there.


If you are aiming to build a more full understanding of Amazon marketing, you find a complete coverage in Innovell’s “Amazon Marketing Report”.

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