This article was updated Aug. 1, 2019.


Interested in expanding your advertising reach? You can now tap into Amazon’s huge online footprint and collection of digital marketing resources. While Amazon’s services can provide advantages to certain businesses, that doesn’t mean they work for everyone.

Amazon offers two general services:

  • Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) for wholesale vendors who want prominent placement in Amazon Marketplace search listing or product pages
  • Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) for nearly any advertiser, like those who sell products third-party (3P) on Amazon, publish books on Kindle, or drive app downloads on Fire/Android platforms.

Amazon currently limits some AMS services to vendors registered on their Vendor Central or Vendor Express programs. However, they could potentially expand to 3P Seller Central accounts. AAP services, on the other hand, can work just like any other demand-side platform (DSP) programmatic ad buying service.

Those using AAP get to leverage Amazon’s significant troves of consumer shopping data. They also access the long reach of Amazon’s owned or affiliated sites. These include IMDB, Business Insider, Twitch streaming and more.

Learn more about the benefits and constraints of each platform, along with a few tips on how to optimize your performance once you get started.

What Is Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)?

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is a program designed to help Amazon vendors get more prominent placement within their eCommerce Marketplace platform. AMS works entirely within the Amazon website and affiliated tools.

Shoppers already visiting Amazon — meaning they likely have an intent to buy — see AMS participant ads when they search for products or browse through product categories. They may also see displays on Amazon product listing pages as a “similar” or “recommended” product.

There are three main ad types:

  • Sponsored Products — Display within product listings for related items and keywords when an Amazon customer searches or browses products. They may have prominent placement in normal product listings or placement on static (non-scrolling) sidebars or lower frames, depending on the consumer device used.
  • Headline Search Ads — Display at the very top of search or browsing results on Amazon. Shoppers instantly see the product just below the search bar, giving the product optimal placement. They also see a custom text headline, containing a call to action or product descriptors.
  • Product Display Ads — Display right within product listings, just below the “Add to Cart” and “Add to List” panel. They show up as a “similar” or “recommended” product to consumers, intended to convert customers to the advertiser’s item.

Ads operate on a PPC basis. AMS users can select targeting parameters, keywords, budget and more. They also have the ability to pause or modify their current campaigns at will.

Who Can Use AMS?

Currently, AMS Sponsored Products ads and Product Display ads are only available to Vendor Central and Vendor Express registered Amazon partners. These companies operate as independent vendors on the Amazon Marketplace and sell their products to Amazon Retail upon a customer purchase rather than selling directly to the consumer.

Vendor Central participation is by invitation only. Wholesalers can apply to register as Vendor Express and, if they meet the requirements, Amazon will enroll them in the program.

Seller Central third-party (3P) vendors, who sell directly to consumers but use Amazon’s fulfillment system, can access Headline Search ads.

Because AMS is only available to vendors and only provides ad inventory in Amazon Marketplace listings, the program is ideal for those selling products directly to Amazon through their ecommerce platform.

AMS Optimization Tips

  • Amazon allows you to select either automatic targeting, where they match you with all relevant product queries, or manual targeting, where you can manually set keyword options.
  • Since manual targeting offers more control, you can use it for A/B testing, but know that automatic targeting often has improved reach across a broader variety of searches.
  • Automatic targeting also generates data for the keywords that caused you to appear, making it great for keyword research.
  • Ensure all Headline ads use descriptive text that signifies relevance to shoppers. They have an intent to buy a certain product, so your descriptors should signal “this is what you want.”
  • You can research popular keywords and product listings by viewing Amazon’s “Best Sellers” and using Google’s Shopping Insights tool.
  • Don’t make assumptions about which products will be best sellers. Give all products a chance to perform at first with minimum bids of at least $0.15 to $0.25, and then adjust product spend based on data.
  • Sponsored Product Ads only appear when you are the vendor in the Buy Box. The benefit is that you will never advertise someone else’s product, but make note of which products you are failing to appear in the Buy Box for and adjust accordingly.

What Is the Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP)?

The Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) is a network of first and third-party ad publishers coupled to a programmatic demand side platform (DSP).

Anyone wishing to participate on AAP can purchase ad inventory for specific sites or custom audience targets. Ad inventory displays on sites owned and operated by Amazon, such as IMDB and Twitch video streaming. They also display on “brand safe” publisher sites as vetted by Amazon, including Business Insider.

In short, AAP provides the same capabilities as other programmatic ad-buying platforms, like Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange. These tools use a combination of datasets to identify optimal audiences who are likely to convert. Then, the system automatically picks ad inventory to reach those audiences on trusted publisher sites.

However, AAP also has a few key advantages over other DSP-enabled ad-buying:

  • Amazon has one of the biggest stores of first-party data, nearly all of it directly tied to consumer behavior along the path to purchase.
  • Amazon’s “customers who viewed this item also viewed…” feature creates powerful remarketing loops fueled by rich purchase data observing customer behaviors.
  • Amazon has one of the highest rates of self-identification (customer log-ins) for deterministic identification. They also have a fairly adept probabilistic identification to recognize last logged-in users on their devices. Combined, Amazon can track users as they move between devices with incredible accuracy. Since many consumers move across devices during their purchase journey, this capability is indispensable.

What Ad Formats Does AAP Offer?

Amazon offers four main types of ad formats on AAP, all with varying size and placement possibilities:

  • In-content Display ads
  • Mobile banner overlay ads
  • Full-page mobile interstitial ads
  • In-stream video ads

Who Can Use AAP?

Any interested company who can meet Amazon’s minimum participation requirements can enroll in AAP. However, Amazon specifically designed AAP to lead to a few specific types of conversions. The nature of these conversions limits the advertisers who would likely be interested in certain products.

The conversion types AAP enables include:

  • Product Listing Ads — Convert people directly to your Amazon product page or Amazon Store
  • App Download Ads — Target users on Android and Amazon’s Fire OS with ads encouraging them to download your app. These ads appear across the web and as sponsored listings for app store queries.
  • Book Ads — Promote your book as a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) author to encourage more ebook purchases.
  • Website Ads — Bring audiences to your website or a custom landing page.

Of these options, driving traffic off of Amazon presents the most versatility thanks to targeted URLs. Website conversion ads therefore cater to a wider variety of companies wishing to advertise for a diverse variety of reasons.

Special Services AAP Offers

  • The Transparent Ad Marketplace on AAP is another name for header bidding. This process automatically pits all bids against one another in real time, as opposed to first checking bids among preferred inventory buyers. Amazon operates the service off their own cloud, slowing down latency for publishers and giving advertisers real-time insights.
  • AAP’s Shopping Insights feature gathers detailed analytics on consumers as they travel across the web and between devices. Time Inc., owner of the Real Simple content website, used the feature to discover that new moms looking for baby products made up a significant portion of their audience, informing ad placements.
  • Advertiser Audiences allows advertisers to upload email lists, CRM info and other first-party data to target existing audiences across devices and channels. The service also allows brands to find lookalike audiences.

Find Success on AMS and AAP With Symphonic Digital

AMS and AAP offer sophisticated tools for brands looking to scale to huge audiences and tie them into their marketing funnel. Getting the best results involves conducting A/B testing, following best practices and prioritizing the right KPIs.

Let us help guide your strategy and manage your AMS or AAP campaigns to help you find success. Increase your conversions, lower your cost per acquisition and scale your campaigns sensibly with the strategy and guidance of Symphonic Digital.

Contact us now to get started today!