Amazon has two Display products, and understanding how they fit into a larger ad strategy can be a challenge for marketers. Here, we compare both offerings and provide example cases for when to choose one over the other — or both simultaneously.  

Amazon continues to announce product updates for Sponsored Display that are included as features in the Amazon DSP. On the other hand, DSP updates have received far less publicity overall. To complicate things, these two products can compete with one another in some scenarios and complement one other in different circumstances, so it’s important to understand the nuances of both products and when to implement them in order to develop a successful, holistic strategy. 

 Find the best fit for your brand 

Many brands who are very active with Amazon DSP already may also think Sponsored Display is duplicative and not necessary for your needs, and they’d be mostly right.  Many of the audiences you can target via Sponsored Display are already available in ADSP, with even more options, more customization, and greater transparency.  Sponsored Display does, however, offer much more customization for product targeting, which can be greatly beneficial for categories with high competition to conquest and defend the ad space on product detail pages (PDPs).  Sponsored Display can also be a great solution for supporting longtail ASINs, to capture the low-hanging fruit with product targeting and retargeting tactics.  Since the two products do compete in the marketplace, we don’t recommend running the same audience strategies promoting the same ASINs. 

DSP vs. Sponsored Display 

Let’s start at a high level with how the two product offerings are different: 

Amazon DSP is a demand-side platform that gives advertisers enhanced control and flexibility in creating and managing display and video campaigns.  ADSP provides the ability to define audiences, supply sources, creative, KPIs, and ad destination to promote products both on AND off Amazon. CPM bidding with viewability control/targeting options.  

Sponsored Display is a self-service tool within the Sponsored Ads console that enables brands to leverage display as a channel in a turn-key fashion, with full API capabilities.  Sponsored Display is fully retail aware to optimize across brand catalogs and conquest product pages directly. Sponsored Display launched in 2019 with CPC pricing and is now offering a vCPM pricing beta. 

Both products offer many of the same syndicated audience targeting options today, but the operational differences are what matter.  ADSP can provide holistic solutions across brand and direct response KPIs, but it requires programmatic expertise to fully take advantage of this product. 

Amazon introduced Sponsored Display to provide a much lower barrier to entry for brands to test – particularly those brands that are already running Search/Sponsored Ads, with a heavy focus on lower-funnel KPIs. They can add Sponsored Display into the mix easily, and there is no need for a separate team to set up and manage.  

There are a few differences to keep in mind while developing your strategy: 

Which product is right for you? 

If you’re currently not running any display, you may be wondering which product is right for you. For brands just starting out, Sponsored Display may be the right fit for an initial display test and then consider Amazon DSP when ready to scale further.  Sponsored Display can also be more effective for brands that have persistent inventory challenges.  While Amazon DSP can be retail aware for out-of-stock products, it is not set up to prevent brands from driving advertising to detailed pages when losing the buy box.  Sponsored Display accounts for both, just as Sponsored Products does, and can minimize advertising dollars wasted and the manual stopping and starting of campaigns.    

Amazon DSP’s customization and transparency will still likely be best suited for most advertisers as their primary display channel.  ADSP should be prioritized for:  

  1. Hero Retail Ready ASINs to support with healthy budgets  
  2. Full funnel marketing objectives, strategies, and channels  
  3. Targeting and inventory customization  
  4. Brand safety and 3rd party verification  
  5. Holistic measurement via Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC)  

It’s not only complicated, but the offerings are constantly changing with updated product rollouts which may mean you should reconsider your previous decisions.