Amazon has implemented its own site-specific digital advertising search tool - Amazon Text Ads. Similar in functionality to Google AdWords, here are the new program's capabilities.

If you hadn't heard already, Amazon now has a Text Ad unit that's now available to all Seller Central account holders. What's interesting is that though Amazon has had this particular ad unit for some time, the e-commerce giant changed how it's powered and who powers it. It's with the retirement of the Amazon Product Ads unit that this particular ad unit is starting to gain some attention.


What They Were

Basically, it was a site in the partner network of Google AdWords. You couldn't target the site specifically, a lack of control that's miffed PPC marketers for years. But you knew it was there, lurking in the background and garnering impressions, clicks, and sometimes conversions for a fairly decent return - at least in aggregate, since you can't see individual partner network performance or optimize accordingly. It's just an on or off button in AdWords at the campaign level that's in the "on" position by default in each new campaign you create.

What They Are Now

It's no surprise that Amazon would eventually elect to stop sending so much traffic offsite with a portion of the CPC going to Google, trying to either capture that CPC for itself entirely or keep the user on Amazon. The new program, if you're not already enrolled, requires you to set up a Seller Central account on Amazon. It will not entirely shut off all Google partner network traffic yet, but don't be surprised to see this gradually wind down as Amazon gets more advertisers into the program. For now, estimates are that the volume - click and impressions - would be about 10 percent (Read more...) you'd see in your Google search and keyword campaigns.

How They Work

Honestly, I'm calling it "Google AdWords Lite." If you remember using AdWords back in the mid-2000s before features like remarketing, dynamic ads, shopping, and YouTube, it's really similar. Here's a quick rundown of Amazon Text Ads:

  • CPC-based
  • Keyword, auction-based 
  • Utilizes keyword match types: broad, phrase, exact, and negative
  • Can run more than one ad copy at a time
  • Has campaign and ad group structure 
  • Offers campaign level daily budgets 
  • Ability to schedule start and end dates for campaigns 
  • Available bulk file templates  

Ad text includes:

  • Headline
  • Line of body copy
  • A display URL
  • Similar character limits 

With a few updates that weren't available back in the 2000s:

  • Mobile bid modifiers on campaign and ad group level 
  • Higher limits: campaigns in an account 10,000, keywords in an ad group 10,000, ads in ad group 50
  • Conversion code for complete or partial tracking and cross device attribution 

But there are also some limitations:

  • No delete for campaigns: it's archived, paused, or ended
  • No geographic or location modifiers and no exclusions
  • No day of week or time of day modifiers 

It's built so much like AdWords, there's even an option to upload your existing Google AdWords campaigns via the bulk upload option. This means that if you're interested in trying Amazon Text Ads, the rather large barrier created due to setup time is removed.

Can You Do It?

Yes and no. Certain sellers will not be allowed into the program and that is a decision made by Amazon on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, certain categories are "gated" and require approval from Amazon. If you've already got a Seller Central account, log in and see if in the drop down under "Advertising," there is a "Manage Text Ads" area you can go to in order to start setting up. If you don't have a Seller Central account already, you'll need to register and provide some basic business information, including tax ID info.

What I've seen so far is that while the setup part is made relatively easy, the volume is OK, the return is actually good, and the volume of the return is low. If you need a comparison, think along the lines of what you might be doing with Bing Ads. The most interesting part now is, because the competition is lower and it's so new, the head terms that normally would gobble up budget on AdWords get far more converting impressions than you would think. For example, you could bid on single or two-word keywords like "scented candles" and actually turn a positive ROI. As a result, the day-to-day management is very manual. You can download reports, adjust bids, add keywords and match types, and utilize the bulk edit worksheet, but again, it's still very manual.

If you'd like to learn more about the program, the most informative help articles are unfortunately gated within the Amazon Seller Central Help Center documentation. If you do have access and you're interested in the program, I recommend logging in and checking it out. Otherwise, check out the PPC Hero walk through, with pictures. 

This article was originally published on Search Engine Watch.

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