In December 2015, Amazon discontinued its highly popular Product Ads programs, even though the ads had been popular for both the company and its advertisers. Reason? Amazon made its decision based on rival Google’s entry into the shopping sphere, with its launch of Google Shopping and Google Product Listing ads.
Essentially, Amazon chose to shut down a popular service rather than allow data from its endeavors to fuel Google’s success.
The decision was probably a tough one for Amazon, but it was the right one, given the battle lines that have been drawn between the two internet giants. The void left by the removal of Amazon Product Ads, however, needs to be filled, and not every company is as enamored with Google as the search engine giant would hope.
So, how is your company going to fill that void? The following suggested alternatives to Amazon Product Ads may be the opportunity your company is looking for, to reach new consumers via search-based strategies. While we don’t talk much about Google Product Listing ads, if you don’t share my distaste for that company's Monopoly-like strategies, they too may be worth adding to the list.
Here are those three alternatives to Amazon Product Ads:
1. Facebook Product Ads
Facebook, which remains the world’s most popular social media site, with 1.09 billion active users on the site daily, launched Facebook Product Ads in early 2015. Like sponsored advertisements on the site, Facebook’s robust demographic sorts are available to advertisers to better target potential customers.
Companies with a Facebook business page can run dynamic product ads and upload their entire catalog into the system. Rachel Kwan, manager of The Honest Company, reports a 34 percent increase in her organization's click-through rate and a 38 percent reduction in its cost per purchase, thanks to the new dynamic ads. Like other forms of search marketing, advertisers set their own budgets and can tailor their campaigns based on relevancy to user interests.
2. Bing Product Ads
Bing is Microsoft’s rival search engine to Google’s dominant one, and it actively promotes its Bing Product Ads, which reach 117 million searchers monthly. To get started, companies must first claim a domain, then create a Bing store. From there, they can upload their product catalog and create a shopping campaign based on keywords and available demographic data on searchers.
The ad campaigns highlight product ads on searchers’ SERPs, making them stand out among the organic search ads, and directing clicks and traffic to online stores. One caution: Only U.S.-based businesses may use Bing product ads. When you verify your online domain, you’ll need to verify that you are a U.S.-based business.
3. Amazon Marketplace Ads
Just because Amazon took away one form of advertising doesn’t mean the channel isn’t offering other alternatives. Amazon Marketplace Ads are worth investigating if you had good success on Amazon before it discontinued Amazon Product Ads.
Currently, the Marketplace reaches 285 million paid customer accounts. Its power lies in the fact that ads are displayed to customers exactly at the point of decision-making when they’re considering a product. To list products on Amazon, start by opening a seller account and uploading your catalog. Begin on the Selling on Amazon page to get started.
Comparison shopping sites
Comparison-shopping sites such as Nextag are another possible alternative to product ads. Nextag reaches 26 million viewers per month, and the company claims there’s only a 20 percent overlap between its audience and other price-comparison search engines.
That said, Nextag may reach a different audience more concerned with price than exclusivity or quality. If your business uses price as an important selling feature, then Nextag may be a better option than search engines like Bing, which give you some room to add value through web page copy about your products.
The importance of keywords to product ads
As with most forms of cost-per-click or cost-per-acquisition ads, finding and testing keywords is important. Invest time and energy into your product keyword research. Test available keywords until you find the right combination of long- and short-tail keywords that generates the best results for your product listings.
The bottom line: targeted, extensive product reach
The goal of all online retailers is to reach the greatest number of potential customers while spending the least on advertising.
Among all of the platforms mentioned, Facebook and Bing offer the best targeting features, with Facebook far exceeding the potential number of viewers for your ads. Many advertisers find that Facebook’s targeting options exceed even Google’s ability to locate the exact customer demographic you wish to advertise to, a notion that’s probably made Google’s team sweat a bit.
Testing not just your keyword strategy but various platforms like Facebook, Bing, Amazon Marketplace and others provides you with the data you need to make fact-based decisions on future campaigns. Most of the companies included here require at least a $100 investment, but for most retailers, that’s very affordable.
Set up a few tests, compare the results and find your new best advertising platform. Amazon Product Ads may be gone, but the alternatives are still appealing.