How to Choose the Right Advertising Platform for Your e-Commerce store


Amazon, after all, is an incredible entity in and of itself. There are more than 300 million active customer accounts and 90 million people in the US are Prime members. To impress you with even more figures, Amazon made almost 2 billion dollars mostly from ad sales in the first quarter of 2018.

And when it comes to these millions of customers, Amazon knows a lot. They have data on what device type we are using, our basket size, wishlists, search filters, the reviews we have left, and what products we have viewed and purchased. That is a lot of information that can be leveraged to market products to the right consumers.

They make good use of that information, placing ads in relevant search feeds and in front of the right users. They currently offer the following ad types:

  • Sponsored Products. These ads are broken down into different campaigns and ad groups. You can target keywords, using both multiple match types and negative keywords to ensure the most relevant placements. To qualify to run these ads, you need to be winning the Buy Box, and products with the most reviews will fare better.
  • Headline Search Ads. These ads work on an auction-based system. Like sponsored product ads, you can create campaigns and ad groups and target by keyword. Unlike the product ads, however, you do not have to be winning the buy box to get placements.
  • Product Display Ads. Product display Ads are similar to Sponsored Product Ads, but they are featured on the sides of feeds instead of in the search feeds directly.

Amazon’s current system isn’t quite as complex as Adwords can be, meaning that it can be a little easier to use but more difficult to get the targeting precisely right. Amazon also prioritizes sales velocity, so if you aren’t already selling a lot, it may be more difficult to have your ads show up on this platform.

The biggest danger in all of this is that when you are running ad campaigns on Amazon, Amazon is in the auction with you. They do plenty of first-party sales, have their own Amazon products, and have “fulfilled by Amazon” offers; this means that it is in their direct best interest to show the item most likely to sell and make them money.

This is just one way that Amazon is different from other ad platforms, including AdWords and Google Shopping. As Elizabeth reminds us, these are not the same platforms that all work alike. They are similar, but you even should be using different tools to research and structure your campaigns.

Google Express

Google Express, meanwhile, is offering another marketplace for e-commerce buyers. They are taking notes from Amazon, and also offering enhanced shopping actions that make it easier and more convenient for users to purchase with just a few touches; this provides a seamless checkout (which we know is important), shipping updates, and delivery management. It also gives customers all the information they need in one place, creating a much better customer experience overall.

Like Amazon, Google has also created Sponsored Product Listing Ads to show up in the marketplace. In some cases, Google Express itself may be the seller in the individual product ads, but in other cases, there may be other non-Google sellers.

Express listings, however, don’t participate in the paid auction. That being said, Shopping Actions on Search sponsored unit may show when there is inventory on Express. If a seller, however, has a product eligible for both, Google utilizes their SKU; this is meant to be complementary and increase the impression share for the products.

All this means that product data is permeating further than we ever thought. Product titles and descriptions matter for potential product ad placements, and prices, reviews, and user behavior will all factor in.

And with a marketplace-like experience, the last question to answer (for now) is who should be tackling these ad campaigns: the marketplace team or the paid search team?

How Marketplace Teams Contribute to Creating Advertising Campaigns

  • Seller ratings. Google Express and Amazon both have seller and retailer ratings, which can directly influence placements.
  • Inventory allocation & fulfillment. Marketplaces are acutely aware of inventory allocation, even watching for buffers like safety stock.
  • Taxes. Taxes affect marketplace sales in a way that the PPC team isn’t accustomed to, and they must be taken into consideration.
  • Marketplace search results & marketplace content. These are two different things, and it’s important to understand what content goes where.

How Paid Search Teams Contribute to Creating Advertising Campaigns

  • Budgeting & spend allocation. PPC experts are typically better equipped to understand how to optimize spend allocation to get the most out of a budget, including split testing.
  • Conversion rate optimization. Conversion rate optimization for ads is going to look different than writing good product descriptions.
  • Geographic, audiences & personas. PPC experts often have a better grasp on where customers are and who they are, how they buy, and how they interact with ads.
  • Search engine search results. These experts can also better piece together how all these factors influence what customers are searching for and how to end up in their search results.

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