Exploring the Amazon: A Guide to Amazon Advertising

Maxs Amazon Post
Max Engler
August 16, 2018

Amazon has far surpassed the small online book retailer it once used to be. With ventures into grocery shopping, insurance, and who knows what’s next, the online marketplace has become something entirely unique. Boasting over 310 million active customer accounts, Amazon is considered one of the most valuable brands across the globe.

The retailer began advertising with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) back in 2012. And while Amazon’s advertising interfaces fall short of the specific targeting, reporting, & ad variations within Google or Facebook, the retailer provides an unparalleled audience of consumers who are near the end of the sales funnel and are ready to purchase.


Amazon advertising interfaces

Amazon offers 2 types of advertising interfaces. One is Amazon Marketing Services, and the other is called Amazon Seller Central.


So, what’s the difference?

The main differences between Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Seller Central involve operations & logistics. Amazon Marketing Services acts as a 1st party seller, where Amazon buys bulk units of your products and ships them out directly to the consumer. Seller Central, on the other hand, is for 3rd party sellers, where the company itself ships out the stock (unless you receive FBA, which is products fulfilled by Amazon). Whichever advertising interface you use, you have the opportunity to win the Buy Box.


Understanding the Buy Box

As described by Amazon, the Buy Box is the box on a product detail page where shoppers can begin the purchasing process (for example by adding items to their shopping carts or through 1-Click purchasing).


Buy Box


How to win the Buy Box

Amazon uses their algorithm to determine which products win the Buy Box. While the Buy Box isn’t just for PPC advertisements, winning the Buy Box is essential for sponsored product ads. This is similar to Google’s auction, where the advertisements with the best “quality score” will show more often (at a reduced cost per click) than others. Where the Buy Box differs is across interfaces.

If you’re using AMS, your products are likely to win the Buy Box due to the fact that Amazon itself is selling your product. If you’re using Seller Central, it can become slightly more difficult to win the Buy Box.

Amazon considers the following when awarding the Buy Box:

  • Order performance (whether orders are perfectly processed & fulfilled)
  • Seller feedback
  • Shipping on time
  • Delivery tracking updates
  • Cancellation rate
  • Pricing
  • FBA

As you can see, customer metrics are heavily considered in determining the eligibility of your ads to win the Buy Box.


Ads across interfaces

Amazon Marketing Services is Amazon’s most robust advertising interface. AMS offers advertisers more granular reports than what’s available in Seller Central. It also offers advertisers three types of advertisements: Product Display, Sponsored Product, and Headline Search ads.

Amazon Seller Central, on the other hand, is what most sellers on Amazon are familiar with. This is the main interface that manages overall sales reports, product pricing options, Amazon coaching, and more. Still, Seller Central provides less robust reporting options than AMS. Seller Central only offers advertisers two types of advertisements: Sponsored Product and Headline Search ads.


Product Display (Only available on AMS)


Product Display ad


Sponsored Product Ads (Available on AMS and Seller Central)

Sponsored Product ad



Headline Search Ads (Available on AMS and Seller Central)


Headline Search ad


A third way to advertise: Amazon Storefront

Amazon storefronts can be linked directly to your headline search ads and are a great way to illustrate your brand’s voice. Just like a physical store, Amazon storefronts are shopping spree-able: They include all your products listed on Amazon and show customers a wide range of products they might not have known they were in the market for. Someone searching on Amazon can simply click on the headline search ad and then be sent right to your Amazon storefront page.

Headline Search Ad

Headline Search ad




Amazon Storefront



Is Amazon Advertising right for me?

Advertising on Amazon is the perfect way to reach users who are ready to purchase. With the benefit of 2-day free shipping, customers tend to turn to Amazon for purchases rather than visiting individual companies’ e-commerce sites.  By utilizing Amazon advertising in conjunction with your e-commerce website & SEM efforts, you can optimize your brand’s online presence.


Want to learn more about Amazon advertising for your biz? Check out our services page.

Max Engler
Manager, Search & Social Advertising

Max Engler is a Minnetonka, Minnesota native who trekked to Indiana University for college. When he’s not working in digital marketing, Max enjoys researching and reselling men’s clothing. He nerds out over the different label designs on the back of T-shirts.

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