Episode 048: Headline Search Ads with Mike Ziegler

November 21, 2017

The sponsored products space is getting more crowded. There’s more competition, less available keywords and a higher cost to advertise. That being said there’s a feature of Sponsored Products that still has plenty room for competition and the ads are placed in a premier spot. It’s Headline Search Ads.

Headline Search Ads have been available for several years through Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) and many sellers have been using them through AMS. Now they’re available through Seller Central too.

“Headline Search Ads are keyword based,” says former Amazonian Mike Ziegler, “They actually sit just barely below the search bar on Amazon.”

Mike used to work on the Sponsored Products team at Amazon. Now he runs a company called Marketplace Clicks. They help sellers build, optimize and manage Sponsored Products campaigns.

There’s only one spot for Headline Search Ads in search results and it’s above all the results plus the other Sponsored Product ads. The ads have four total photo spots, three product images on the right and an image on the left. There’s also some text that includes the product name and under it says: “Shop now.” When shoppers click on the ad, they’re directed to a landing page picked by merchants.

“Which looks like any other Amazon shopping page but it’s directed to those, your products that you’ve chosen to be on this customized landing page,” Mike says.

This landing page doesn’t have any other sponsors or competitor ads on it. The ad has room for three products to be advertised, but then the landing page can be filled with more.

“If your advertising a certain line of products, but your line has 15 different variations, don’t list just the three in the ad. You should list all 15 on that landing page,” Mike says.

Products have to be Brand Registered in order for merchants to use Headline Search Ads. Every ad is approved by Amazon before it goes life. Amazon is checking to make sure that the text is relevant and the products are associated with the brand. They also look for misspellings. They don’t monitor what that the products relate to the keyword sellers are trying to rank for.

“The right best practices, yes you should likely have products associated with the keywords you advertising but it’s not a requirement,” Mike says.

The ads are keyword based with a similar cost model to other PPC campaigns. Amazon does provide a tool that tells the amount that needs to be bid on keywords to win a certain percentage of the traffic.

“It may say at 50 cents you’re going to get 25% of the ad traffic and maybe at a dollar you’re up to 50%,” Mike says.

There can be expensive keywords, just like in Sponsored Products. But, on the ad percentage that sellers do win, their ad is right below the search bar, above all other ads.

“I think Headline Search Ads are worth it and if you’re using Sponsored Products today then you’re sitting on a treasure trove of information on keywords for converting keywords  that you should be leveraging to help you construct Headline Search Ads,” says Mike, “For certain categories it can be a gold mine of less competition.”

It’s important to keep in mind that because there’s fewer Headline Search spots, sellers aren’t going to have as large of reach to shoppers as with Sponsored Products. That premier spot up top is what makes it worth it. It also shows up at the top of mobile search.

Headline Search Ads can be run through both AMS and Seller Central. Mike suggests running them through Seller Central. Seller Central provides more information about how ads are performing.

“It actually gives you that split of data so you know how did my headline search ad do last month versus month to date and so on,” Mike says.

Sellers need to be careful that they’re not running ads in both AMS and Seller Central.

“You are competing against yourself,” Mike says.

Headlines ad will have three product images. Then the image on the far left can be anything a seller wants. However, sellers shouldn’t put a brand logo there, unless it’s a logo that everyone recognizes like Starbucks or McDonalds. Instead of a brand logo, sellers should use a photo.

“I would use a lifestyle image, or if you’re selling a product that has five color variations then maybe create a collage image of your different color options that you can demonstrate the variety of products that you have to choose from,” Mike says.

On mobile devices, Headline Search Ads only display that photo on the far left and the ad text. If sellers use a logo that doesn’t register with the shopper, then they’ll scroll past it.

Thank you to Mike Ziegler for sharing his insight to Sponsored Products, specifically Headline Search Ads. Mike can be found at www.marketplaceclicks.com

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