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6 ways to get more clicks on your Sponsored Display ads on Amazon

Find out about Amazon Sponsored Display ads used to target shoppers' interest or specific products, and understand how to maximise the CTR of Display ads.
Victor Malachard
Last updated:
February 9, 2022

Unlike Amazon’s Sponsored Product and Sponsored Brand Ads, which are designed to target the customers for specific search terms or keywords, Amazon Sponsored Display Ads (previously known as Product Display Ads) are mainly used to target “shoppers interest” or specific products. So, first of all, you have to be clear on how you are using Sponsored Displays ads to make sure you are getting more of the clicks you want.

Product Display has traditionally been the lesser-used advertising option with Sponsored Products dominating in terms of spending. Performance ad agency Merkle reported that 85% of its clients’ Amazon ad spending went to Sponsored Products in Q3 2019. Product Display Ad share jumped from 2% to 5% over the same period. But with the recent upgrading of Product Display to Sponsored Display (and the extreme competition in Sponsored Products), it’s time to look at how both strategically and tactically you can maximize the click-thru of your Sponsored Display Ads. 

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The basics of Sponsored Display ads

You can easily set up Sponsored Display ads on Amazon: select your audience, set your bid and daily budget, choose your product to advertise and create your campaign. 

Ad creatives are automatically generated, based on your customizable headline or logo, pricing, product image and product star rating with the ads linking back to your product detail page. 

Sponsored Display is available for Sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, vendors and agencies with clients who sell products on Amazon.


1. Match campaigns to goals

Customers visit Amazon not only as a place to shop, but to discover brands and new content. In fact, Amazon claims that  80% of Amazon customers use Amazon to discover new products or brands. As a result, you can reach millions of Amazon customers and deliver a range of results: creating interest in a product launch, driving brand awareness, maximizing product revenue or even disposing of slow-moving stock. Understanding what you want to achieve with your ads will help you understand how to target your ads. In turn, this will help drive clicks and maximize outcomes for a given product.  

With Sponsored Display ads, you can: 

  • Choose whether you are going to target the ad by audience or product.
  • Pick audiences who have previously shown interest in categories related to your product.
  • Re-engage with customers off Amazon who viewed your listing but did not make a purchase. 

Each of these choices would have a different impression, click-thru rate (CTR) and Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS). By determining these upfront you ensure you are meeting your goals.



CTR and best sellers

If you’re looking to maximize CTR, you might consider choosing your best-selling product (or one with a great customer rating), and target that against competitive products. You could even prioritize competitors by targeting those with fewer reviews/higher prices/lower ratings. This would give you the best chance of generating clicks, making a sale and downgrading your competitors at the same time. It’s also a good idea to use Sponsored Display ads to promote seasonal or holiday-specific products.


New product launches

Launching new products also makes sense for Sponsored Display ads. In this case, you will want your campaign to target some of your own best-selling and popular products. By displaying ads on your own popular products, you can take advantage of the traffic they generate and create awareness of your new products for both new and returning customers, as well as fend off others targeting your brand with their products.   


Sponsored Display and best practice

Having ensured you are bidding on the most viable products, you can then apply best practices to target highly relevant shoppers and drive clicks.

  • Target competitor, complementary, and your own brand’s detail pages to cross-sell and upsell
  • Try different creatives and headlines to see how it impacts click-through
  • Consider running a flash sale, and changing your ads into promotional offerings to engage more shoppers. 
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The more products you target, the more often your ad will appear. There is no upper limit when it comes to the number of products you can target so you can cast a wide net.

It’s important to keep an eye on your campaign goals. Your goals may change from increasing CTR and conversions to increasing awareness of your brand and your product offerings. 

2. Get attention

Your Ad creatives, which are auto generated by Amazon, have similar features to Sponsored ads. They will include an image, pricing, badging, star rating, and a “Shop Now” button that links back to your product detail page.

To increase clicks, you must spend time and experiment customizing the logo or headline for ads. Here are a few of the ways you can make you add stand out:

Create headlines with engaging messaging

Come up with a creative and attractive ad copy. Following Amazon guidelines, you can use a maximum of 50 characters. Look at using phrases such as:

  • “Exclusive” or “New”
  • Include actionable phrases such as “Buy Now” or “Save Now”

Avoid any unsupported claims like “Best Seller” or “#1”. These will likely not be approved by Amazon.

Make sure you are in-sync with compelling product pages 

A strong product title can help convert your clicks into a sale. In order to ensure that your ads are approved by Amazon, and that those clicks convert, make sure that your product pages align with the messaging in your ads. Start your product content with an accurate, descriptive title featuring the most relevant product keywords and information used in your ad.

Though there are no limitations on the number of characters that you use in your ad, only some part of it becomes visible. Describe your product in the first few words but also be compelling enough for a shopper to click it and make sure it matches what you are saying on the product detail page.

Monitor customer ratings and reviews

Star ratings and customer reviews help build credibility. They give shoppers confidence — they also help you win the Buy Box, which is critical to actually winning ad bids, and even being eligible to place ad bids at all. Aim for your advertised products to have a rating of 3.5 stars or more, and at least 15 customer reviews.

Use high-res images

Look to include well-presented, professional, high-resolution images to highlight your product. You can then use the product detail page to show complementary and additional views and angles, key features, and even videos.

Stay in stock.

Sponsored Display ads are paused when items go out of stock. Once the item is back in stock, the campaign will go back to a running state. There could be a delay of up to four hours for this to happen.


3. Find the right ad placement

Amazon Sponsored Display ads generally appear on the right sidebar under the “add to cart“ button. However, they also appear on:

  • Review pages of customers
  • The top part of product listings
  • The top of the search results

Ad placement is dependent on which targeting you choose. Those options are:

Views: This targets shoppers who viewed the detail pages of your advertised products or similar products within the last 30 days, but haven’t yet purchased. 

Interests: This targets shopping activities on Amazon that demonstrate an interest in product categories related to your promoted product — like searching for related products, regardless of views. 

Products: This targets specific products on Amazon that are similar or complementary to your promoted product — placing ads on those product pages or search result pages.  

Categories: This targets a range of product categories on Amazon that are similar or complementary to your promoted product. 

By selecting the most appropriate targeting for your campaign, you can create a tradeoff between volume and specialty. For example, by narrowing your audience to include only those who are shopping in related categories, or shopping similar or related products, you are reaching specific people who will be most interested in what you have to offer. Your clicks may not be dramatically high, but they will be more appropriate to the audience you are pursuing. You need to think about if your goal actually is more clicks vs driving more sales — they aren’t actually always achieved in the same way. 

The ability for Sellers to extend the reach of their Sponsored Product ads to off-Amazon sites is another very interesting addition to Sponsored Products and Amazon PPC in general. However, you don’t have any control over what website and ad placements you appear on. Ultimately, you are trusting Amazon to make the right choice.  

Now your ads can appear both on and off Amazon based on the audiences or product targeting strategy you choose, extending your reach and bringing potential customers back to your product pages.


4. Think about campaign length

Amazon research suggests display campaigns should run for a minimum of 90 days. In a study of 266 first-time display advertisers, they reckoned that advertisers who ran display campaigns for 90 days or more were 20% more likely to outperform category trends in traffic and 36% more likely to outperform category trends in sales than advertisers who ran campaigns for less than 90 days.

A campaign of this length also gives you time to experiment. You can test and optimize your campaigns to find the right messaging that works for your audience. For a simple experiment, you could clone your campaign and change one variable at a time to compare two versions of a single variable.


5. Mix up campaigns

When looking at increasing clicks for Sponsored Display, it’s worth thinking about how your ad campaigns work together. Sponsored keyword and display ads can address a range of shopping experiences that neither can achieve alone.

Sponsored Display advertising complements Sponsored Product and Brand keyword advertising on Amazon. Customers can often start with a query — such as “striped pajamas” — and then they receive a list of matching results. 

With keyword advertising, you can use a range of techniques to modify and isolate the keywords you bid on and the prices you’re willing to pay. But you can’t control the audience you can reach or how shoppers come to search for your products in the first place. You need to be able to reach potential customers who aren’t entering the right search terms to discover your brand.  

By using keyword search-based ads and display ads together can you attempt to generate clicks and sales from a range of shopping intent.  Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Targeting related products. 

If you want to advertise a set of slippers, for example, you can target that ad to display when someone purchases your striped pajamas. This makes the buyer aware of other products you offer and increases the potential of them adding more items to their cart.

Targeting competitors’ products. 

By selecting ASINs or keywords, you can make your Sponsored Display ad appear below the “Add to Cart” button on your competitor’s’ listing. You have created the opportunities to either poach customers from your competition or piggyback a sale of your own product from their customers’ purchase.


6. Measure and optimize 

Sponsored Display uses automation and machine learning to optimize your campaigns — but to succeed, you must be constantly monitoring and tweaking your campaigns. This is where having your own analysis software really makes a difference.

While bids will automatically adjust based on likelihood of conversion, you can still manually change your bid strategy or pause your campaign. 

Along with creatives that feature your product image and ratings, Sponsored Display ads also enable you to customize the appearance and message of your ads depending on where they appear. By bidding high for certain positions, you can maximize the chance of your best performing ads appearing in the best performing page location.

You cannot choose the size or position of your ad. However, you can influence it with your bid and the budget that you have chosen. The probability of your ad getting a premium space is higher if your CPC and budget are high. Better ad placement does generally translate into more clicks and sales. 

You can measure the impact you’re having through a range of metrics including your retail baseline, unique reach, detail page views, and brand halo sales and modify your campaigns accordingly. If you want a full rundown of how to make sense of your Amazon customer data, we suggest looking at our eBook on the subject

Hitting the right note

Ultimately, Product/Brand and Display ads complement each other. It’s always worth considering using Sponsored Display ads defensively or tactically as specific support to a keyword campaign. 

You would typically be using both in tandem. For example, by generating greater brand exposure with Display ads, you make it more likely customers will search for your branded keywords. 

Your goal would be for keyword ads (Product/Brand) to drive more immediate sales and Display ads to generate demand for products and drive long-term sales. In other words, Product/Brand ads would generally help drive purchases from high-intent customers, while Display ads help to create high-intent customers.

Lastly, as we have addressed throughout, clicks are important, but it’s all really about sales. By optimizing your approach, you can generally drive an increase in both. But if you’re getting clicks but no conversation, the best course of action is not necessarily to double-down on a click-driven strategy. It might be far better to refine the audience you’re targeting and look to bring in more relevant clicks, rather than raw click volumes.  

PPC campaigns are complex. The greater the perspective you have over your entire Amazon ecosystem, the more informed your choices can be. For example, gaining a detailed view of CLV (customer lifetime value) for customers buying different products would allow you to understand your true profitability ceiling for bids. Achieving this level of transparency over your products, however, will require investing in Amazon analytics software

Regardless of your approach, the simple steps set out here (starting with thinking about outcomes and goals) will help you drive clicks and improve your performance. All that’s left is to get started and experiment. 

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