Amazon recently announced their new Sponsored Display product. Here's a brief overview of the beta, who should take advantage of it, what it means for programmatic teams, and what the future implications could be for advertisers.  

What is the Sponsored Display Beta?  

Last week, Amazon rolled out a new Sponsored Display beta to sellers, vendors, and integrators in the US market.  With this beta, advertisers can continue to access Product Display Ads (PDAs) targeting on-site. More importantly, buyers can now run audiences off-site across third-party exchanges through their ad console (APS is not yet available).  Creative is pulled directly from Amazon PDPs just like Amazon's Dynamic E-Commerce Ads (DEA), and can be generated quickly and easily for campaigns.   

Who should take advantage of this product 

This can be interesting for brands who are 100% focused on search and want to test display remarketing at low levels of spend.  Sponsored Display does not require the same minimums an overall account would to activate in the DSP, and the logistics for setup are certainly easier.  Sponsored Display is also a CPC model, so it's set up to be action-oriented and focused on lower funnel targeting and tactics to bring previous viewers back to convert.    

Beware: If brands are already promoting ASINs via DSP, they should not promote the same ASINs within Sponsored Display, as these tactics would compete.    

Sponsored Display, however, can provide an opportunity to promote supplemental ASINs not currently supported in broader display efforts.  This could be relevant for 1:1 retargeting with individual ASINs for increased relevancy vs. promoting hero ASINs for those viewers.  

An important note: Sponsored Display currently lacks transparency regarding site lists and brand safety, and it does not allow for any 3rd party tagging. It's truly a beta in its 'bare bones' state.  While we expect more features to be added over time, this does not seem to be the priority for Amazon, so brands should be wary when testing.  If brand safety is a major concern, Amazon's DSP has been rolling out verification features and improvements through IAS and DV, so that may be a better fit.   

What it means for programmatic teams currently using Amazon's DSP 

The targeting and optimization capabilities within Amazon's DSP are far superior when compared to Sponsored Display, so this won't have a short-term effect on programmatic teams who are already activating.    

  • Retargeting through the beta is automatic, and brands cannot adjust audience definitions or edit the auto-generated creative 
  • The new Audience Builder tool in the DSP allows for much more customization when defining audiences, such as applying exclusions 
  • Sponsored Display only supports product based ASIN creative, while the DSP offers a wider offering for creative options and customization within their DEA product 
  • Programmatic buyers have also found that manual adjustments on top of auto bid optimization has been successful in enhancing performance in the DSP, such as the ability to control inventory sources and viewability 

While this announcement won’t change setups for brands already activating display, it could result in many smaller brands and sellers testing out display for the first time in the marketplace and increase competition overall.  To stay ahead of this, programmatic teams should monitor performance and bids across 3rd party exchanges if they have long-tail competitors in the marketplace.  

What it could mean for the future of display 

The fact that Amazon created a different avenue to implement display outside of the DSP may be a signal to what could come next.  It appears this addition is meant to target smaller advertisers and sellers to add display into their media mix now, but programmatic teams should continue to watch this product evolve as new features roll out.  API access is also already available for Sponsored Display, and it should be available for the DSP soon.    

Currently the offering is very limited, but if initial testing and adoption is strong then Amazon is likely to continue blurring the lines on the differentiation.  It would be enticing to have all your Amazon media run through one account and pull in through one API, so this could be a larger implication over time for advertisers and agencies.