If you have been using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) in recent years, you probably received an email this week describing the new name: Amazon Advertising. But the big news is not the name. It’s the new interface, and a new requirement for “Sponsored Brands” (formerly Headline Search Ads).
First, the announcement:
We are excited to announce that from now on we are simply Amazon Advertising. With this, we are phasing out the name Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) and simplifying some of the product names across our portfolio. How you use our products, and how you work with us, will not change.
So what is changing?
- You will now sign in at the Amazon Advertising website, advertising.amazon.com, to manage campaigns. This site replaces the Amazon Marketing Services website, ams.amazon.com.
- Headline Search Ads are now called Sponsored Brands.
No action is required on your part, and your active campaigns will not be impacted.
An official blog post gives more details, which includes the introduction of a platform for professional marketers and programmatic advertisers, Amazon DSP (“demand-side platform”).
The name change follows closely on the heels of the introduction of a new interface for AMS/Amazon Advertising. I will produce some new Amazon Advertising videos on the new UI, which looks better and has a few new features (such as an embedded graph showing day-by-day performance, see below) that make management and optimization a little easier.
But to me, the main thing that’s changed concerns the ad type formerly known as Headline Search Ads or Headline Ads, but is now called Sponsored Brands. It’s not just the name. Headline Search Ads used to let creators upload different types of image assets in the main display area, including stock photography and interior or close-up images. This gave advertisers a flexible way to communicate marketing messages or show off features of the product, such as a close up of a widget or interior graphics from a book.
This is apparently no longer possible under the new Sponsored Brand creation tool. It asks you specifically to choose a logo, although it reluctantly lets you use the product image as long as the logo is visible.
A few days ago, I tried using the same type of stock photography that I had used in the past but the ad was rejected with the following message:
Your ad is missing a brand name or logo. Please add these missing elements in order to clearly identify the advertiser in your ad.
This new requirement contradicts the message from Amazon (“How you use our products, and how you work with us, will not change”) although it also leaves open the possibility of sticking a logo onto a piece of stock photography or a close-up image of a product feature, but I am not sure if those will pass muster, either.
One final thing to note about Amazon Advertising: I’ve been using it for nearly two years now, and have generated some respectable sales. But in recent months I have noticed lots of campaigns failing out of the gate (no impressions) or CPCs at the very top of the bid limit, when they used to be well below the bid limit. It’s pretty clear that the platform’s popularity and some obvious tweaks to generate more income from sellers (such as defaulting to $1 starting bids on certain ad types) are resulting in higher costs for advertisers. Average Cost of Sales (ACoS), the flawed metric Amazon displays to advertisers as a measure of performance, has gone steadily up for me, from 11 or 12 percent when I started to close to 20% now. I knew this would happen, as happened with other self-serve ad platforms such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. But I didn’t expect it would happen so soon.