The Differences Between Amazon's Sponsored Product, Headline Search & Product Display Ads

March 28, 2018 Seller's Choice Collaborator


The Differences Between Amazon's Sponsored Product, Headline Search & Product Display Ads

Using Amazon Marketing Services is a great way to accomplish several things for your business. With the various types of pay per click (PPC) ad campaigns available, you can use them for keyword harvesting, data segmentation, and even learn how to target your specific inventory to maximize your conversion rate.

While it would be nice to have an unlimited advertising budget to drive your PPC campaigns, the reality is that you don’t. This means that you need to know where to focus your advertising dollars to get the most effective results from your ad campaigns. Should you be focusing on keyword research? What about identifying key segments to focus on? Not to mention, Amazon offers three different types of PPC campaigns, each with their own focus and utility. Not to worry. We’re going to run through the three types of PPC campaigns that Amazon offers so you can make the best decision for your company.

1. Sponsored Product Ads

Sponsored product ads are the least expensive form of Amazon’s PPC ad campaigns. These are keyword-targeted ads where you provide a bid with a daily budget for your particular ad. These bids start at $0.02 with a daily budget that starts as low as one dollar.

These ads are keyword-targeted, which makes them best for testing keywords to improve your organic conversion ratio. There are two types of campaigns that you can run with this type of ad. The first is automatic targeting, where Amazon automatically selects the keywords based on your product listing. The second is manual targeting, where you select the keywords for your targeted campaign.

If you aren’t sure what keywords to use, or you just want to set up some campaigns right away, the automatic targeting will work and will increase your click-through rate. However, for best results and for keyword research, manual targeting will always yield the best information.

Sponsored product ads also appear at the top and bottom of the search results page listings with the light grey text “Sponsored” just over your title. For example, this is the SERP for “glitter.” Note the two sponsored listings at the top of the page.

The Differences Between Amazon's Sponsored Product, Headline Search & Product Display Ads listing example sponsored product

Amazon makes it very easy to see the effectiveness of your targeted keyword. Not only does this let you see the ROI immediately, but it also lets you alter and drill down into other phrases or words that can yield higher click-through rates. Additionally, because your product is facing the customer, you can also measure how effective your listing is at getting click-throughs.

2. Headline Search Ads

Headline search ads are very similar to sponsored product ads, but there are some key differences. This type of campaign focuses on keywords as well, but you can also create a custom headline to draw more attention to your listing. Headline search ads are the most expensive of Amazon’s PPC campaigns with bids for keywords starting at ten cents and an overall campaign budget of $100.

This type of PPC campaign also lets you play around with a custom headline. With this, you can test a new bullet point or description for your listings to see how people are responding to them.

Unlike sponsored product ads, which can be found at the top, bottom and right sides of the SERP, there is only one location for the headline search ad. And unlike sponsored ads, which can feature up to twelve different products, only one seller is featured on headline ads. Using the previous example and using the search term of “glitter,” this shows how a headline search ad is placed.

The Differences Between Amazon's Sponsored Product, Headline Search & Product Display Ads listing example headline ad

As you can see, the headline search ad stretches across the entire page. It is designed to do this, no matter how your shopper is browsing, whether it’s on a phone, tablet, or a laptop/desktop. The ad features a logo or photo chosen by you as well as up to three separate products. There is also a 50 character custom headline available.

These types of ad campaigns are effective at increasing your brand penetration to a large number of people. And because you can select up to three different products, you can choose to feature lower performing products in an effort to increase product awareness.

There are a different set of requirements to create a headline search ad. You must have a registered brand with Amazon, be a Professional Seller, and have three or more products in the headline search ad categories.

The report that a headline search ad generates is very similar to a sponsored products ad. You’ll see the number of impressions, you click-throughs as well as how much you spent overall. You’ll also get a total sales figure for conversions generated from that ad. With this, you’ll be able to gauge how well your headline ad is doing and tweak it to generate better results.

3. Product Display Ads

Product display ads are different from sponsored and headline search ads in that they use a different target to generate conversions. Instead of keywords, product display adds focus on specific product types and categories to generate click-throughs.

Pricing for product display ads are bid based. The bids start at $0.02 with an overall campaign budget of at least $100. Keep in mind that just because you set a budget doesn’t mean that your PPC will consume that entire amount. Depending on your bid and the competition’s bid, as well as the number of click-throughs, your budget may last longer or shorter than you anticipate.

They are also positioned in different places. Amazon will place these underneath the bullet points and description of a similar product in the same category or type. There are a couple of places that a product display ad will show up as you can see here.

The Differences Between Amazon's Sponsored Product, Headline Search & Product Display Ads product display

This PPC ad also allows for a custom headline. You can see that the craft sticks that are paired with the glitter say, “Super quality jumbo craft stick for kids. 100pc.” Just like the headline PPC ads, this gives you an opportunity to experiment with a 50-character line to attract click-throughs. Additionally, you will also need a photo of the product for this type of paid ad.

To determine the effectiveness of your PPC ad, you’ll receive an easy to read report that is similar to the reports from the headline and sponsored product ads. Using the click-through rate, you can determine the effectiveness of the ad and its corresponding value when it comes to conversions.

Keep in mind that it can take several rounds of PPC ad campaigns to get what is really working well for your profit margin. But running a series of shorter term 2-week campaigns will help increase your brand exposure and get potential customers aware of your products.

There are definitely different ways to use all three of Amazon’s PPC ad campaigns besides increasing your conversions and making sales. Experimenting with keywords and long-tail keywords is a worthwhile endeavor because you can then seed those into your existing listings. Once you have them in your listings, you’re not only going to benefit from paid advertising, but also organic search traffic which will increase your meaningful conversion rate.


This is a guest post by Andrew Maff, Director of Marketing and Operations for Seller’s Choice, a full-service digital marketing agency for e-commerce sellers. Seller’s Choice provides uniquely personalized marketing and managed services for digital marketplace sellers, e-commerce merchants, and brand builders worldwide. You can learn more by emailing or visiting here.

Feel free to contact Andrew on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with any questions.


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