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Search Ads and Display Ads - what should the mix be?

Kennedell Amoo-Gottfried
June 21, 2022
September 16, 2022
Search Ads and Display Ads - what should the mix be?

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting your products seen on Amazon. 

Luckily, the platform has a multitude of ways to help you get the word out there and get you selling - after all, what’s good for you is good for Amazon as well. 

If you are going after new customers - or your competitor’s customers - Amazon offers advertising services such as Sponsored Products, which help your products appear directly on searches. 

But new customers are not the whole pie. Part of your advertising strategy must always take into account the customers who have interacted with you in the past, even if they never ended up buying anything. 

So what are the differences between the two approaches and how should you use each one? 

Search Ads

As the name suggests, these are the ads that will make your products show up in shoppers’ search results. Sponsored Products is Amazon’s most successful and popular ad service for a good reason, it works well at getting items noticed. 

Search ads will place your listings in prime position next to organic searches for similar items, as well as in the display carousels on product pages. Good PPC efforts will get your name out there and it will convert sales, all while only making you pay for the times people actually click on it. 

You can take a hands-on or a hands-off approach to your PPC campaigns, depending on how much control you want to have over it. If you are new to PPC, going for an automatic campaign would not be a bad option - Amazon will take care of all the details, selecting keywords based on your product details and sorting out the targeting itself. After a few weeks, it will have gathered enough data to give you really useful insight into how you can tweak it going forward to maximize results. 

Automatic is not a forever solution, however. After you’ve been in the game for a while, you definitely want to take the reins back and have more active oversight through a manual campaign. This means you will pick the keywords, handle the bidding strategy and optimize costs. 

Display Ads

Whereas Search Ads are a pure marketing tool, Display Ads are used as a remarketing or awareness tool - they go after shoppers who may have looked at your items before, or that had previously looked at similar items from competitors, and re-targets them to finally convert that sale that had not been achieved previously. Or they can target a specific subset of the Amazon audience in which you want to get your product more noticed.

A crucially important difference between search ads and display ads like Amazon Sponsored Display, is that the audience for the latter is determined not by keywords that you put in, but by data that Amazon already has on audience demographics and customers’ shopping patterns. 

In addition to being displayed across Amazon - including in product detail pages, top of offer-listing pages, customer review pages and right sidebar - Sponsored Display ads will also be shown across third-party sites, always put next to relevant content that would attract viewers to your listing. This is a perk that search ads don’t have. 

Display ads have a significantly lower conversion rate than search ads do, as you are targeting people further up the conversion funnel and are more removed from the sale, but the main advantage - which shouldn’t be overlooked - is that you get to reach people that you otherwise would not have through keyword bids, and who are already likely to want, or at least like, your products. 

In practice, search ads will be where your main ad spend is deployed, because you get the most bang for your buck and it is the most effective. Display ads will be a small minority of your ad spend, less than 20% but more than 5%, and if you’re a new seller or vendor on Amazon then you likely won’t be using it at all as your efforts will be better focused on gaining traction and bringing in first time customers. A successful marketing approach will have both of these, it’s just up to you as an individual business to determine what the proper proportions are.

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