Auction-Based Merchandising

Amazon Follows Google's lead on SERP

Over the past two decades, Google has become notorious for making plentiful, and often times, sudden changes to its Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google has always sought to provide the most relevant search engine available to consumers, while also maintaining a profitable advertising model for itself. This goal is the driver behind its never-ending algorithm modifications.

While Google has done this for years, this is still a relatively new concept for Amazon advertisers. Indeed, we are still in the infancy of Amazon realizing both its potential to be a relevant search engine provider, as well as a premier advertising solution for marketers wanting to impact the digital shelf. The steady deployment of SERP modifications for Amazon is just getting warmed up.

Yesterday, Amazon made a major change to its desktop SERP by eliminating side ad placements in the US (and will roll out globally soon). For the uninitiated, Sponsored Products are native ads available on Amazon that are bought on a cost-per-click basis. The reduction of these four side ad placements now leaves only six sponsored products, with up to three at the top of search results pages and up to three at the bottom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Image of top and right hand rail on desktop.

As Sponsored Products remain the most popular campaign type utilized by marketers, this change has the potential to significantly alter the way ad dollars are allocated on the platform. However, here at iProspect, we suspect that this will have a minimal impact.

Amazon will have tested this numerous times before deploying this change, so the traffic loss will be minimal. Also, the right hand rail only exists on desktop. Given that more people have shopped on Amazon via mobile than desktop since 2015, this change only impacts a minority of placements. With that being said, we won’t be complacent in assessing it. For example, if there’s a decrease in available placements on desktop, the CPC is likely to increase as competition for limited placements increase. Marketers may also shift to other placements such as Headline Search ads, so we may see their CPC increase.

This is a brand new update and at the time of writing this blog post, the right hand rail is still showing. Time will tell on how the landscape will evolve. However, in early 2016, Google executed a similar strategy by removing side ad placements on its SERP. To help offset this reduction in placements, Google then added an additional placement at the top of results.

Just like Google, we expect Amazon to continually test the positioning of ads, striking that delicate balance of not pushing customers away, while also giving advertisers more opportunities to play. Here at iProspect, we will be paying close attention to see whether CPCs rise because of the desktop change. Stay tuned!