Top 10 tips for Sponsored Display product selection and targeting

Sponsored Display is our retail-centric display solution that helps advertisers reach customers as they are shopping or browsing on Amazon, including the Amazon home page, as well as off Amazon. This guide is for advertisers who may have already begun to set up new Sponsored Display campaigns but want to learn more advanced tips on product selection and targeting.

Sponsored Display is “retail aware.” Retail awareness means that you never have to worry about pausing your ads if your advertised products go out of stock or are no longer the Featured Offer, because whenever that happens, ads pause automatically. You don't need to worry about inventory levels or paying for ads that could never generate a sale.

Product targeting allows advertisers to cross-sell to shoppers viewing similar or complementary products or categories with ASIN-level controls. Audience campaigns can help advertisers reengage audiences that have viewed a product’s detail page, detail pages of similar products, and categories related to their advertised products.

1. Use both Sponsored Display campaign types

Using both Sponsored Display audience campaigns and product targeting at the same time can help advertisers drive an increase in sales and incremental reach.

Sponsored Display campaign

A China-based apparel brand, specializing in footwear and clothing, has been using multiple sponsored ads solutions in North America and Europe since 2016 to help create awareness and consideration for their brand. In 2020, they added Sponsored Display to the mix to support their Amazon business in the US. From March 2020 to July 2020, following the brand’s launch of Sponsored Display campaigns using audience tactics, they’ve seen sales increase by 140%, while keeping their advertising cost of sales (ACOS) under 20%.1

1 Data based on their Sponsored Display performance between March to July 2020 in the US

Selecting your products

The products you advertise define your campaign; they will be featured in your ad creative, and the ads will link to those detail pages. Make sure any product you advertise is “retail ready;” that means making sure they have high-quality images, informative titles and product descriptions, fast delivery windows, and good customer reviews.

Sponsored Display creative example

2. Add more than 10 ASINs in each Sponsored Display campaign

When you advertise more products in your campaigns, those products can participate in more auctions. This means your campaign is more likely to serve an ad—and when it does, your ad is more likely to be relevant because there were more products to pick from for that ad.

3. Include products that do well on Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands

If you are unsure what you should select for your campaign, we recommend using products that you may have advertised successfully through Sponsored Products or Sponsored Brands campaigns. Products that generate good click-through rates (CTR) or conversion rates through our other sponsored ads products may perform well on Sponsored Display as well.

"We leverage Sponsored Products product targeting extensively. We created our Sponsored Display campaigns to mirror our Sponsored Products campaigns. We are always funneling new product targets from Sponsored Products campaigns into Sponsored Display campaigns. With this approach, we’re continuously scaling our Sponsored Display campaigns, which is why we’ve had such great success."

John Rhinehart, Director - eCommerce, PF Harris

4. Don’t forget newly launched products

Both product targeting and audience campaigns are great tools when advertising newly launched products or products with low detail page views. By targeting products that are complementary to your own, or by engaging audiences who viewed similar products to yours, you can drive interested customers to your products quicker than they may discover them otherwise.

5. Advertise products running on deals

Sponsored Display ads support automated deals and savings badges to help shoppers easily spot special offers when your products are on sale. Automated badging drives up to 42% more clicks for Sponsored Display compared to standard ads.2 So if you have scheduled a deal in the future—for example, over Christmas or Easter—don’t forget to add products in the deal to your Sponsored Display campaigns.

2 Amazon data, 6/26 to 7/24 2019, US campaigns

Choosing your targets

The products and categories you decide to target depend on your advertising goals and should be based on the unique insights you have about your products.

Both Sponsored Display product targeting and audience campaign types let you specify products and categories. Both campaign types also allow you to refine your category targets by brand and other elements like price or review score in different ways we’ll explore in the following tips.

To help explain the targeting optimization techniques available to you, we’ll look at a fictitious advertiser - PB Fitness Solutions. PB Fitness Solutions sells a wide range of fitness products on Amazon and is an active Sponsored Display advertiser.

6. Use our product targeting suggestions

When you create a campaign, we give you a number of product targeting suggestions based on the products that you select to advertise. We make suggestions that are more likely to drive relevant clicks. Suggestions are ranked based on their likelihood of generating detail page views.

If you use our advertising console, you’ll see our recommendations automatically. If you use our API, you’ll need to integrate to our Recommendations API.

7. Target your own products to help customers consider more of the products you offer

Many shoppers discover new products from ads and suggestions from product pages they visit during their shopping sessions. Sponsored Display product targeting allows you to easily cross-sell on your own detail pages while audiences are engaging with your brand, and views remarketing allows you to show ads to audiences who viewed your products and moved on.

We’ve observed campaigns that target an advertiser’s own detail pages, which help co-sell products to introduce customers to more products that they offer, drive +41% better CTR than campaigns targeting other pages.

PB Fitness Solutions uses this targeting strategy to promote brand loyalty when their customers are browsing for their products. They show ads for their best selling running compression socks on the detail pages of their own running shoes because they have noticed that they are frequently bought together. Targeting their own products helps with owning their own product detail pages and encourages cross-selling when customers show interest in their brand’s products. PB Fitness Solutions even targets their best-selling, older, out-of-stock running shoes with ads for newer styles, providing more purchase options to their customers.

A home appliance brand recently used similar strategies to target its own best-selling products' detail pages with other complementary products, resulting in a 74% increase in monthly Sponsored Display sales and a 17% increase in Sponsored Display return on ad spend (ROAS).3

3 Amazon data, 7/1 to 8/31 2020

8. Target complementary products to reach more customers

Use the knowledge you have of your brand to target products that are similar or complementary to your advertised products. This may encourage customers who are undecided to ultimately make a purchase from you.

PB Fitness Solutions promotes their new range of waterproof, compression undershirts to customers who are browsing the detail pages of non-waterproof compression undershirts. Using Sponsored Display to show ads on the detail pages of products that are similar or complementary to their own allows them to promote their products to customers who may be interested in their product but may not have considered purchasing it before. Similarly, PB Fitness Solutions target other top-selling compression undershirts from within their category with audience campaigns to cross-sell their products to audiences who may not have discovered their brand yet.

9. Target entire categories to engage with new customers

This tip can help you generate more impressions and scale up. Using Sponsored Display category targeting options, you can engage a wider set of potential customers who are currently browsing, or have browsed, other products in your own category or a related category.

  • Sponsored Display’s relevancy models allow you to get “out of aisle” which can help you reach new customers and drive incremental sales. You can target entire categories but your ad will only show on the detail pages of the most relevant products.
  • Sponsored Display can effectively help drive new-to-brand sales. Advertisers who use Sponsored Display audiences are, on average, seeing up to 82% of their sales driven by new-to-brand customers.

PB Fitness Solutions used Sponsored Display’s category targeting options to target the entire “GPS watch” category with ads promoting their new range of GPS-enabled activity trackers. This allowed them to enter auctions for all of the detail pages of every product within the “GPS watch” category in just a few clicks, ultimately growing awareness of their new watches among customers who may not have heard of their new range before. They also used audience campaigns to engage audiences who viewed less directly related categories. Their own internal market research insights inferred that customers who are interested in vitamin supplements and healthy living are also interested in activity trackers. To leverage this affinity they decided to engage past viewers of the “vitamin supplements” category. This strategy helps them to reach new audiences who might have a natural affinity with their product.

"Sponsored Display category targeting refinements allow us to use a more targeted approach to make sure that we only advertise on similar products in a specific category, ultimately reducing ad spend and an increased return on investment."

David Chen, Marketplace Manager, Macally

10. Use category refinements to optimize your category targeting

Our solution enables you to refine any of your category targets by specific brands, price range, Prime-eligible products, and product review scores. You can use these refinement options to make changes to your targeting based on your own unique insights about what your customers value the most about your products.
Review the products you are advertising and think about what kinds of products it would be most favorable to target with your ads.

PB Fitness Solutions wanted to promote their new $100 USD trail running shoes via Sponsored Display but noticed that when targeting the entire “trail running shoe” category, their ROAS was lower than their goal. They realized that their shoes were more expensive than many of the top sellers in the category so wanted to stop any of their ads showing on the detail pages of shoes which were less expensive their theirs. To do this they used the “refine” option to exclude products with a selling price of under $95 USD when creating a new category targeting option.

Many of our advertisers are utilizing these levers to get better results from product targeting campaigns. weBoost is a premium cellular booster brand and well established in the signal booster category. Their agency, Channel Bakers, analyzed weBoost’s insights from awareness-driven campaigns to create and optimize their Sponsored Display product targeting strategy. They targeted the signal booster category generally as well as other popular lower priced signal booster detail pages to help cross-sell their own products. The brand saw good results throughout the summer of 2020. In July, sales attributed to Sponsored Display increased +28% month-over-month at +144% ROAS, while monthly clicks increased +73%.

Now that you also understand how to select the best set of products to advertise and how to optimize your targeting while creating new Sponsored Display campaigns, do not forget to optimize your existing campaigns as well.

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