March 1st, 2009 | 2 MIN READ

Amazon Product Ads: Good Idea? Bad Idea?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

It never ceases to amaze me how much Amazon packs onto its product pages. In addition to the products it sells, Amazon product pages include banner ads, links to the product from other sellers (Marketplace), forum links, Listmania, more banner ads, Sponsored Links, Customers Who Bought Also Bought, Better Together, reviews, customer tags, Amapedia...

Add "Related Items from External Websites" to this list, which shows "related" product thumbnails and links to other sites participating in Amazon's Product Ads program. Product Ads is a pay-per-click program that allows any merchant to advertise products (with thumbnail images - depending on which browser the customer is using) right on Amazon product pages. Details here.

According to Amazon's Product Ads description, PPC placements may appear close to the cart button:

As you know, Amazon is continually testing - so I wouldn't be surprised if I'm seeing different placements than others. Rather than the above, this is what I see when I'm on

My concerns about this program:

1. Is this what customers want? "Product Ads is an advertising program designed to provide customers seamless access to products available on external Web sites." Many customers choose Amazon for free shipping/Prime, the A to Z guarantee, they already have an account and the trust they have with this established retailer. When you roll over the related offer links, you can't preview the destination URL, it's an Amazon redirect which may confuse customers - they don't know where they will end up, or they're surprised when a new site opens up (yes, even if you mention "external websites."

2. Right now, the recommendations are not very relevant. The above related items (candles and faucet) were suggested for this dog toy:

Irrelevant offers means lower click through rates for advertisers (yes, Amazon uses a combination of bid and click through rate to determine placement and final cost-per-click). It also means more confusion and clutter for customers. But I'm sure this will all improve over time.

3. These ads potentially take sales away from Amazon and Amazon Sellers in the marketplace. As a seller, I don't appreciate Amazon pointing potential customers elsewhere.

Nevertheless, this is another traffic channel if you're looking for a way to tap into Amazon's gazillions of shoppers. I'd be interested to hear from any advertisers who've played with these ads. What's the traffic quality? How does it convert compared to other PPC programs?

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