Google Shopping Ads Versus Amazon Ads: Which Is Better?
by Ron Dod
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In many industries, there are two brands that dominate the market and compete for king of the hill. Pepsi vs. Coke. Nike vs. Adidas. McDonald’s vs. Burger King. Microsoft vs. Apple.
In the retail advertising industry, Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads is the eternal dichotomy.
The fact of the matter is that in 2021, there is likely not a single profitable eCommerce brand that isn’t using Google Shopping campaigns. However, the same has rapidly become true for Amazon’s advertising platform as well.
The reason for this is that, when looking at where consumers start product searches, Amazon dominates a solid 53 percent of beginning product queries. However, this same data shows that nearly a quarter of individuals will start their product searches on a search engine like Google.
This is about where the Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads debate starts to get spicy.
Therefore, as a means of helping retailers decide where to invest their advertising budgets, today, we will explore the differences between Google and Amazon advertising options and assist sellers in determining which is better for their brand.
Let’s get started.
About Google Shopping Ads
Google shopping ads, orproduct listing ads,are Google’s paid shopping campaign program designed to showcase and promote products. As you can see below, they are located on top of paid search ads and organic listings. They show a product image, price, seller’s name and other details such as shipping information.
If you keep scrolling to the right, you’ll stumble upon a “view all” link. You can also find this view if you click on the “shopping” tab next to the images tab.Here, you can filter your results according to different categories and get more information about each listing when you click on it to expand.
This expanded version looks a bit more similar to Amazon with the star rating. Like paid search ads, shopping ads arepay per click or PPC. In other words, advertisers pay every time a user clicks on an ad. After the user clicks on an ad, they are taken to the advertiser’s landing page. This detail may seem obvious, but it’s good to point out because, unlike shopping ads, Amazon ads don’t take users outside of Amazon.
Unlike paid search ads, shopping ads can’t be controlled with keywords. Google decides what to show based on information provided by the advertiser. This information is located in the product data feed submitted through the Merchant Center to create ads.
About Amazon Ads
Amazon offers its own advertising platform where Amazon sellers can promote their products and drive sales. It offers different types of ads, and not all of them are available to every seller. For this reason, it’s important to understand the difference between first-party seller (vendor) and third-party seller to make educated decisions.
First-party sellers or vendors sell their supply in bulk to Amazon and use the Vendor Central instead of Seller Central to manage all their activities. In other words, the products go from being owned by the vendor to being owned by Amazon. You can only become a vendor by invitation.
On the other hand, third-party sellers sell their inventory to Amazon customers through the platform and use the Seller Central. This means that products go from being owned by the seller to being owned by an Amazon customer (when purchased). In this case, Amazon doesn’t have ownership over the seller’s products, even in the case of Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA. The platform just works as an intermediary.
Now, let’s take a look at different ad formats and how they can be used. There are three main ad formats: Amazon Sponsored Products Ads, Sponsored Brands Ads and Sponsored Display Ads.
Amazon Sponsored Products Ads
Ad Placement: These types of ads are located at the top, right side and bottom of search result pages. They can also be found on detail pages.
As you can see in my research for headphones below, sponsored ads take up much of the results page, pushing down all the non-paid listings. They also cut the non-paid listing real estate by the end of the page (not shown here), where you can find a couple of sponsored listings. To the regular shopper’s eye, these ads seem native. Honestly, if I wasn’t helping other businesses sell on Amazon, I would have thought those were regular listings.
Ad Availability: Sponsored products ads are available for both third-party sellers (3P) and vendors (1P).
Cost: They are pay per click or PPC. The minimum budget is $1 per day.
How they are triggered: These types of ads are often triggered by keywords but can also surface through product targeting or interest targeting as well. Advertisers can choose between automatic or manual keyword targeting. With automatic targeting, Amazon’s algorithm does all the work for you to target relevant searches. With manual targeting, advertisers choose the keywords they see fit.
Similar to Google’s paid search ad, Amazon offers advanced match types such as phrase and exact match. In addition, you can add negative keywords to avoid showing your ad for certain phrases.
Professional seller account
Ability to ship to all U.S. addresses
Products must be new
Listings are eligible for the Buy Box
Amazon Sponsored Brands Ads
Placement: Sponsored Brands Ads—formerly known asHeadline search ads—appear across the top of search results, as well as at the bottom and sides of Amazon’s SERPs.
As you can see above, headline ads appear above the sponsored ads and showcase products one next to the other. This is because these types of ads allow retailers to advertise multiple ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Numbers) at once: three ASINs, to be exact.
Ad Availability: They’re available to Amazon Vendors and third-party sellers.
Cost: You have the option to set up an average daily budget (at a $1.00 minimum) or a campaign budget ($100.00 minimum).
How they are triggered: Sponsored Brands Ads are also triggered by keywords and can surface through product and products category targeting. If you’re unsure which keywords to add, you can use the keyword traffic indicator to get ideas of potential keywords. This indicator works similarly to the Google Keyword Planner in that it suggests keywords based on impression volume.
It also takes into consideration the relevance of ASINs selected for the campaign: high, medium and low traffic. Amazon recommends choosing medium and low traffic keywords because they offer better chances of winning the competition than popular ones.
AMS brand page
Custom URL (made of three parent products)
A best-selling product
Amazon Sponsored Display Ads
Ad Placement: Sponsored Display Ads are typically displayed on product detail pages below the Buy Box and the “other sellers” section.
Availability: Available for vendors and third-party retailers.
Cost: Minimum CPC is $0.02 and begins with a campaign budget as low as $100.
How they are triggered: Similar to sponsored product ads and sponsored brands ads, this type of ad can be either product-targeted or interest-based and can live on your (or a competitor’s) product detail pages.
With product-targeting, you’ll want to target complementary or competitive product detail pages that shoppers may visit to purchase products. Using interest-based targeting, select shopper interest categories to reach a broader audience.
Requirements: Be a vendor on a seller enlisted in the Amazon Brand registry.
How Google Shopping and Amazon Ads Are Similar
For simplicity, when referring to Amazon ads, we’ll just focus on sponsored products ads, which is one of the most popular types of ads used by sellers.
Google Shopping and Amazon ads have various similarities. To start, let’s talk about their ad display. They both allow sellers to display product images, pricing, description, shipping and star rating. The last two features are more common on Amazon ads, but we can also find some shopping ads having stars and shipping information.
Next, let’s discuss pricing. They are both pay per click, or PPC, and allow you to advertise with small budgets. Also, they both usually show on top of organic listings and share the ad space with other competitors’ products. Finally, they both require some level of optimization using best practices to maintain visibility for the best cost.
How Google Shopping and Amazon Ads Differ and How to Determine Which Is Better
Now, let’s discuss how Google Shopping and Amazon ads differ. Let’s start by discussing user experience. With shopping ads, the user is taken to the advertiser’s site. Instead, with Amazon ads, the user is taken to the product detail page and never leaves Amazon.
There are several benefits of taking a user to your own website. First, it can help increase your website’s monthly traffic. Additionally, it can give you the opportunity to show other products in your store to the user, with the hope of increasing the value of the purchase. It can also provide brand awareness and give you the chance to capture the user’s information without a conversion. This can be accomplished with the help of a newsletter subscription popup.
On the other hand, with Amazon ads, if there’s no conversion, you won’t be able to capture the user’s information and the user will probably leave without knowing your brand. Thus, if you’re looking for brand awareness, Google shopping ads may be your best choice.
Other things to consider are the different levels of control each platform offers. With shopping ads, Google has most of the control by choosing what ads to trigger based on your product data feed. Instead, with Amazon ads, you’ll be able to use keyword targeting and advanced matching options to have a higher level of control about when your ads are shown.
Pricing is another important point to consider. On Amazon, price is king, so you may have to sell your products for a more affordable price than with Google shopping ads. Lowering your prices may be tough if you’re already working with a slim profit margin. In any case, make sure you can still be profitable using any platform.
Other Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads: Differences to Consider
In addition to the previously discussed differences between the two advertising platforms, there are several other important considerations the retailers must factor into their decision-making process, including:
Conversion Tracking Capabilities
When it comes to online advertising, conversion tracking is vital to campaign effectiveness. Therefore, when engaging in the Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads debate, it is important to consider that conversion tracking is extremely simple with Amazon. Here, orders and revenue are automatically tracked for advertised products.
However, when looking at Google Ads, things are a bit more complicated as retailers are required to create their own conversion actions for events on their site that they wish to track, be it lead form submissions or purchases.
This is something that novice advertisers should contemplate as setting up conversion tracking can present challenges for the inexperienced. That said, Google does provide thorough documentation to help retailers get everything set up correctly.
Alternatively, by partnering with a skilled eCommerce advertising agency, sellers can also ensure the accuracy of their conversion tracking data.
As far as bidding is concerned, Google Ads offers advertisers multiple fully automated bidding strategies that effectively eliminate the more tedious and burdensome aspects of bidding optimization.
When utilizing automated bidding strategies like Target ROAS or Maximize Conversions, Google will work to set keyword bids and campaign optimizations based on the goals set forth by advertisers. In the end, this makes campaign management far more simple, effectively eliminating hours that would potentially be spent on optimizing campaign bids.
Additionally, Google Smart Shopping campaigns can also be deployed as a means of cutting down on campaign management through automated optimization, but that is a bit of an aside.
As far as Amazon is concerned, the platform does not have fully automated bidding options, meaning that retailers will need to set keyword bids manually. Of course, this assumes that sellers are targeting keywords and not products or interests.
However, even if products or interests are targeted, merchants will still need to set their own bids.
So in the question of Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads, which one is better?
Well, the honest answer is: It depends.
The lukewarm fact of the matter is that Google Ads and Amazon’s advertising offerings are both fantastic ways of reaching consumers. That said, if a merchant can only choose one platform, then it would largely depend on the goal that the seller is seeking to achieve.
If retailers are attempting to rack up sales, then Amazon Ads is likely the way to go. If the merchants’ main goal is to drive brand awareness, increase website traffic or to build a more substantial presence outside of Amazon, then Google is the right choice.
However, if sellers do have the means to do away with the Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads dichotomy, then they are best positioned for brand growth. For in today’s omnichannel ecosystem, Google and Amazon both play critical roles in the customer journey.
That said, if your brand wants to ensure that it is effectively reaching consumers with the most compelling messaging possible no matter which platform is being used, then reach out to Visiture’s paid advertising experts.
No matter if your company wants to use Google, Amazon or both, our professional eCommerce advertisers can help to create PPC campaigns that get in front of relevant audiences and convert consumers into loyal customers.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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