The ever-expanding, massively lucrative niche of digital advertising is being hotly contested by tech companies, with even upstarts vying for a share. But none has come to match the sheer dominance of Google. Its AdWords is the defacto PPC Digital Ad service for businesses with a monopolistic share, with Meta (Facebook) coming in a close second.
But, a recent new entrant has been grabbing headlines and increasing its share of the total digital ad revenue: Amazon. The company has been diversifying its business and online advertising is an addition to that list. It has seen success in the advertising niche with its February 2022 figures showing revenue of $31 Billion for the year, jumping 32% from the year before.
For businesses, this competition is a good thing as it offers more options to secure better online visibility and reach but it also compels you to choose an ad platform. This is especially a problem if yours is an eCommerce business on the Amazon marketplace. Should you focus solely on Amazon’s ad system to meet your advertising needs? Or add Google to the mix? Is Amazon advertising worth it if you are not on the platform? You’ll be able to answer these questions once you’ve learned how Google Ads differ from Amazon Ads and what their best use cases are.
Google Ads. Vs Amazon Ads.: The Feature Set
Google’s AdWords digital advertising service has been the go-to choice for a long time due to the variety of campaign types and placement it offers. Marketers can avail the following from it:
- Search network campaigns
- Multi-network display campaigns
- Video campaigns
- Shopping campaigns
- Discovery campaigns.
Search network campaigns are the ones that bring up ads on search results pages. The multi-network display campaigns enable advertisers to show their ads across Google’s properties like Youtube, Blogger, etc. Video campaigns are dedicated to Youtube advertising, consisting of videos of various lengths. The Shopping campaigns are Google’s answer to eCommerce, containing a variety of PPC ads that link to product pages on various shopping platforms. Discovery campaigns are the latest addition to this set and contain ads on Google’s Discover feed which is like a homepage on its mobile app.
To counter this, Amazon ads offer the following campaign types:
- Sponsored Products
- Sponsored Brands
- Sponsored Display
Sponsored Products are ads that contain products sponsored by sellers to be listed on search results pages. The more relevant the product is to the search keywords, the more likely it will get featured in the list. It is the equivalent of Google’s Shopping ad campaign type. Sponsored Brands allows you to place your ads in your brand store.
Sponsored Display is Amazon’s answer to off-site PPC campaigns by other advertising platforms. Its USP is that it displays ads based on customer interest, shopping history, and other such metrics instead of keywords. Stores allows brands to set up their independent virtual store within Amazon. It is a mix of being a third-party seller/vendor on the platform and having an exclusive brand website. You can promote your brand on it without having to worry about your competitors getting in the way.
Amazon ads management has gotten on the social media advertising bandwagon with the Spark facility. It is essentially a social media platform by Amazon that allows people to connect with shoppers sharing similar tastes in shopping, influencers to promote brands, etc. This is Amazon’s answer to the growing influence of social media platforms in the eCommerce space.
Both Google and Amazon ads services are based on the auction process, but each approach it differently. What’s common is that you need to bid for an ad spot where your ad will appear. The bidding process also determines the amount you’ll pay for every click the ad gets.
Amazon goes with the “second price auction” principle. According to it, you will pay an amount that’s slightly higher than the second-highest bid for the clicks instead of the highest bid amount. The workings of the algorithm that determines the most relevant ads to a search are unknown. But what is known is that you can’t simply win all the time by placing the highest bid. You also need to have matching keywords for the ad to meet the minimum selection criterion.
Google takes a similar approach but offers a lot more transparency regarding how its algorithm works. The selection criteria here is Ad Rank which determines how relevant your ad is for a given search. It is calculated by considering multiple factors like bid amount, expected click-through rate, ad relevance (particularly keyword number and quality), user location, the device used to access the portal, etc. So, you can’t simply pay a higher bid to get clicks. The higher your Ad Rank, the better your ad placement and the lower the amount you have to pay compared to your competition.
Amazon and Google ad platforms also vary in their approaches to ad targeting. The common aspect between the two is that keyword-based search is the primary customer targeting mechanism. You can utilize Exact, Phrase, and Broad keyword types for search term matching purposes and their close variants as well. What constitutes a close variant though is spelled out more clearly by Google than Amazon, making it easier to understand.
Where Amazon edges out Google is Product Targeting. It is the advertising feature where the product is used instead of keywords as the ad target. you can have ads that target particular products, product categories, or a collection of products that are selected based on factors like ratings and reviews, popularity, etc.
Amazon again edges out Google with its Automatic Targeting mechanism. Here, Amazon does keyword research for your Sponsored Product campaign needs. It uses algorithms to match keywords and products with similar ads. By looking at where your ads appeared relative to search terms and products, you can decide the keywords to use in your manual PPC campaigns. You can also take the help of Amazon ads optimization services experts as they are familiar with the best ways to use Amazon for creating a keyword list with high performance potential.
Where Google wins is Audience and Demographics Targeting. It has accumulated vast amounts of personal data that advertisers can use to create targeted ads based on various factors like age, height, sex, relationship status, etc. You can alter your bid amount to focus on keywords that will work on your target demographic instead of spending it on a broad audience set. A bonus is that this targeting is possible across all of Google’s online properties.
Since Amazon doesn’t track user data the way Google does, you can’t target specific demographics with this advertising mechanism. It also means that conversion tracking on Amazon is limited to orders and revenue. With Google, you have to decide which metrics you want to be tracked, like instances when a product is added to cart.
Fully automated bidding is a specialty of Google’s Ad service that eliminates the laborious manual bid optimization process. One of its convenient features is the ability to set custom metrics-like Target ACoS or Maximization of Conversions-and let Google automatically set and optimize keyword bids accordingly. Your goals will determine the performance of the auto-bid algorithm. Amazon doesn’t have such a feature but offers a couple of bid adjustment features that can alter bids in real-time based on conversion likelihood. The rest is done manually, with an Amazon PPC agency likely to provide the best results.
Overall, Google comes ahead of Amazon ads due to the myriad of Ad campaigns and types it accommodates. It also helps you to cast a wider net across many of its online properties and garner a lot of brand awareness compared to Amazon. But in the case of Amazon-centric eCommerce, Amazon advertising services give the edge as it funnels traffic straight to your product pages, unlike Google’s Shopping which scatters it across multiple brands.
Google Ads. Vs Amazon Ads.: The Value Proposition Comparison
With PPC ads, you need a robust strategy that is data-driven throughout. That means you have to look into multiple KPIs to determine the overall effectiveness of each service. The two advertising platforms have relative merits and demerits in this regard, with their value proposition depending on your situation.
Amazon, for instance, does internal advertising, where all ad traffic is restricted to the platform. This is in contrast to Google whose Shopping feature displays ads from various online sales sites. So, if you need to advertise your Amazon store, it’s better to focus most of your efforts on Amazon ads for getting good RoAS figures. Hire Amazon PPC experts and they can help reduce your ACoS with the right bidding strategy too.
Amazon also does selective advertising, where certain ad types have a minimum purchase amount. This means you have to be in a position to generate, or at least be confident of generating high enough revenues to cover such costs. This creates a high-risk, high-reward situation that may adversely affect your RoAS and ACoS if things do not pan out.
For Google, the average RoAS is 2:1, meaning the return on every $1 invested is $2. By concentrating on your Google Search Network, this ratio can be raised to 8:1. The expected amount is at least 2:1. For Amazon ads, the expected RoAS is 6:1. But this is uncertain and vague, depending on numerous factors that can change it dynamically.
For Amazon, an ACoS between 15% and 20% is considered normal. The average, however, comes up to 30%. Thus, it means that the cost of your products should be higher than your Ad spends on them by that margin. There is no direct way to see ACoS on Google directly as it doesn’t track this metric. Instead, you have to create one by yourself for certain viewpoints.
Both platforms rely on keywords to strategically place ads for a relevant search term. Also, both place ads above organic results. The difference lies in how the Ad rank value is determined, with Amazon going with total profit as the base and Google with the Click-Through-Rate of the ad. In both cases, the higher the respective metric, the better the ad ranks on respective platforms.
Amazon wins in this department with a large lead. Since its ad traffic is platform-restricted and limited to eCommerce purposes alone, the conversion rate can be as high as 10%. In contrast, Google Ads has around a 1%-2% conversion rate.
Google places no restrictions on who can avail what type of ad campaign from its list of offerings whereas Amazon restricts certain campaign types to particular sellers/vendors. You may have to pay large sums of money to access such advertising campaigns, bringing down your profitability.
Landing Page Options
With Amazon, you are restricted solely to redirecting your customers to product pages on the platform. However, this may not necessarily be a bad thing as such focused funneling can lead to better conversions. Google, on the other hand, allows you to lead your prospects to your website or any landing page of your choice. This works better for marketing than for direct sales.
Influence on Organic Ranking
Amazon has a unique feature in its PPC campaigns, which is that ads on product pages can also boost their organic ranking. This is because with more CTRs come more conversions, which in turn increase your store’s authority with respect to the algorithm. It can even increase Google SERP rankings for the related product page. Google’s ads can’t do this and only indirectly influence organic rankings when high traffic is detected through page linking and splitting signals. Thus, on Amazon, you can optimize your ads to improve ROI via both paid and organic routes simultaneously. An easier way to do this is to hire Amazon advertising service professionals to help realize the organic ranking potential of your Amazon listing.
Digital advertising is the most effective way to reach your customers and engage them. It lets you expand your customer base while increasing your brand value at relatively low costs, sometimes even for free. By selecting the right ad platform between Google and Amazon for your business, you will unlock the full potential of your digital marketing strategy.
Advertising is a must to expand brand awareness regardless of your business type, and digital advertising with PPC is the most effective way to do it today. Google has been the staple ad platform for a while, but there is competition from others like Amazon. The two offer a variety of features for PPC campaigns like the type of campaign, metric tracking, auto bidding, myriad of targeting mechanisms, etc. Their value proposition depends on your need and can be determined by looking at various KPI data. It helps develop a robust PPC strategy that can increase your ROI and RoAS while reducing your ACoS for good brand visibility and objective realization.
Guest article written by: Mike Wilsonn is a professional content strategist and writer working at SunTec India. He has over 5 years of experience creating compelling content on a multitude of topics like technology, travel, digital publishing, data management, and others. He pays special attention to eCommerce and Amazon Product Description Writing to help sellers successfully navigate the ever-changing eCommerce landscape.