These ads have historically been keyword-based and placed across the top of the search results, making them valuable for reaching shoppers early on in the buyer’s journey.
“If you are more performance-based, you’ll bid down on high ACoS keywords and higher on low ACoS keywords,” says Macfarlane.
Source: Tinuiti Amazon Benchmark Report Q1 2020

Table of Contents

1. What Are Amazon Sponsored Brands Ads?

“The share of Sponsored Brands impressions coming from the top of search results picked up for a time, going from an average daily value of 36% the first two months of the year to 42% in March,” says Taylor. “It’s a best practice to always have an auto Sponsored Products campaigns for keyword harvesting,” says Macfarlane. “I take the winners from that auto campaign and move them into the manual SP and Sponsored Brands campaigns.” The difference between sponsored products and HSAs is that with sponsored products, you can see which search term produced your ad or led to a conversion.
Amazon Sponsored Brands (formerly Headline Search Ads) are banner ads that include a brand’s logo, message, and products in Amazon’s search results.

Amazon Sponsored Brands Cost

“The second to the bottom placement can only show one image, so you’ll need to decide whether to make that image a logo or a product image,” says Macfarlane.
“Branded searches typically have a higher intent and lower ACoS. Mixing them with  non-branded campaigns may prevent you from seeing the true performance of your branded and non-branded campaigns.”

2. How to Create an Amazon Sponsored Brands Campaign

Many advertisers will leverage auto campaign data but often fall into the trap of a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality.

  • Click on Campaign Manager
  • Select Sponsored Brands
  • Click Create Campaign
  • Select ad landing page
  • Set a campaign budget
  • Add keywords and bids
  • Add an image and headline

For shoppers further down the funnel, with more specific search intent, you should send them to a customized URL that only shows them “Best Selling” Burton boots.

3. Sponsored Brands Updates (2020)

It’s also worth noting that Amazon Headline Search ads display differently depending on placement and device type. For example, mobile HSAs only display one picture — so advertisers need to decide whether they want that one image to display their brand logo or one of their products.

sponsored brands creative editor
Another way to optimize your Sponsored Brands ad campaigns is to harvest additional keywords from your auto campaigns and leverage keyword conversion data from your Sponsored Products campaigns.

Amazon’s new Creative editing feature for Sponsored Brands can be found in Campaign Manager.

  • Expanded Sponsored Brands placements to include product detail pages
  • Creative editing feature released that allow advertisers to edit Sponsored Brands creative in Campaign Manager
  • Sponsored Brands shopper language preferences released, allowing brands to create and manage multi-language content

In contrast, a search for “Burton snowboarding boots” shows more specific intent.

  • Additional placements alongside the bottom and sides of the search results page (August 2018)
  • Dynamic ASIN optimizations that display ASINs based on what Amazon predicts will lead to a conversion (August 2019)
  • Expanded targeting strategies to include negative keywords, category, and ASIN targeting (Ongoing)

“For example, if a keyword isn’t performing well this week and it only costs five dollars, you might keep it in your targeting.”

4. Amazon Sponsored Brands Benchmark Data

Sponsored Brands spend grew a staggering 47% year over year for the quarter

Best practices for testing your Sponsored Brands according to Amazon:

sponsored brands growth

amazon headline search ads sponsored brands amazon store

“However, things seemed to return to pre-March levels at the end of Q1, with top-of-search placements accounting for 35% of impressions the last day of the quarter – the same figure observed the first day of January.
Your cost can vary depending on the keywords, products, or categories you are targeting. “It’s important to not only monitor this reporting on a weekly basis but also on a 30-day basis to get a better gauge of performance,” says Macfarlane. If someone searches “Burton snowboarding gear”―it makes sense to drive traffic to a Burton branded storefront page.
For more updates that Amazon made in 2020, skim our post.
Advertisers were by default enrolled into all of these placements using an automatic bidding option.

5. Seven Tactics That Improve Sponsored Brands Performance

1. Segment Branded vs. Non-branded Searches

amazon headline search ads sponsored brands
“If you are more growth & brand awareness-focused, you may be willing to eat a higher ACoS to ensure your Headline Search ad displays for a specific keyword.”
You can find the clicks, spend, sales, and ACoS of your Sponsored Brands ad campaigns within your campaign reports. “It’s worth testing your creative; you can show your brand logo or a product image,’ says Macfarlane.
– Andy Taylor, Director of Research at Tinuiti
The headline and text in your ad copy should match the keywords that are the MOST important for your product — for relevancy and click through.
“The median advertiser targeting both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands averaged 17% as much daily spend on Sponsored Brands as Sponsored Products between January 1 and March 20, but that figure rose to over 20% to end the quarter.”
The increase represents a significant rebound from the 27% spend growth seen in Q4 2019. Sales attributed to the format grew even faster at 57%. However, some businesses may be willing to pay more than 30% ACoS if they want their products to display for a non-branded search. When you analyze your Search Term Report in Sponsored Products, you want to look at the raw data. The report will include a variety of metrics (per ASIN if you segmented your report as mentioned above) but the most telling data will be found in:
amazon headline search ads sponsored brands
Sponsored Brands require multiple assets, so it’s worth A/B testing different combinations to determine which impacts performance the best.

2. Find the Right Keywords

andy taylor amazon ads researcher

Keyword Harvesting & the Amazon Search Term Report

Monitor keyword data, keyword-driven conversions from your Sponsored Products campaigns, and don’t forget that there’s a 48-hour attribution lag when adjusting bids.
You can adjust and test all of the following:
“Sponsored Brands spend growth slowed modestly to end the quarter, but still grew a robust 37% the final week of the quarter.”
If you don’t want your Sponsored Brands ads to display in the placements below the fold (i.e., you only want to show in the original banner that runs across the top of the SERP), then there’s a simple workaround.

example of downloading the amazon search term report
– Courtney Macfarlane, Senior Marketplace Channel Analyst at Tinuiti

amazon sponsored brands ads for wireless earbuds
“For example, if I’m running ads ‘lipsticks’ and my lipstick products can’t go above an ACoS of 30%, I have to take that into consideration when determining how aggressive I want to bid.”
sponsored brands impression share

What do quality keywords look like?

“That’s why it’s important to have relevant keywords that closely relate to what the person is searching for,” says Macfarlane.

  • Order Numbers: The total number of converted orders per keyword/search term per ASIN.
  • Product Sales: The total number of product sales per keyword/search term per ASIN.
  • Clicks: The total number of clicks per keyword/search term per ASIN.

3. Optimize Bids According to ACoS and Business Objectives

Use this reporting to analyze Detail Page Views (DPV) and click-through rate (CTR) to determine if shoppers are getting past your custom landing page or not.
Some bottom placements feature a single image rather than the standard brand logo followed by three product images. Source: OGEE Skincare Amazon

In 2020, Amazon made the following updates to Sponsored Brands:

The new placements are below the fold can have lower CTRs and thus may cause your advertising costs to rise (lower CTRs can signal to Amazon that your ads are less relevant).
revlon lipstick amazon headline search ads sponsored brands ad
Sponsored Brands gives you one subject line to connect with your customers — so choose your words wisely.

4. Optimize Ad Copy With Search Intent

Amazon recently expanded the placements of Sponsored Brands to the left column and bottom of the page.
“If the customer is searching for a specific brand, it’s usually best to make sure they see your brand logo. If it’s product-specific, make sure you have the product image.”
“On a weekly basis we adjust bids based on the ACoS and profit margin for the product(s) being featured in a Headline Search ad,” says Macfarlane.
“In Sponsored Brands reporting you can see that the broad keyword ‘lipstick’ has a sale, but you can’t see the customer search term that triggered that keyword.” “You can see that your broad keyword ‘lipstick’ led to a sale based on the search term for ‘lip balm’ for your Sponsored Products campaigns,” says Macfarlane.

5. Test Multiple Combinations

“Unless you’re a well-recognized brand, we find that product images usually perform better with non-branded searches.”
Over the last year, we’ve seen Amazon make significant functionality updates to Sponsored Brands campaigns, including new placements, creative editing features, and more.

  • Headline
  • Image
  • Number of featured ASINs
  • Order of ASINs
  • ASIN selection
  • Custom landing page selection

“It’s also a best practice to segment branded and non-branded keywords for more granular keyword data,” says Macfarlane.
Sponsored Brands are an effective way to build top-funnel awareness by allowing your brand to show your offering for specific shopper search queries. They can be used to drive shoppers to a specific product category, a product listing, or your Store on Amazon.
Amazon Sponsored Brands Ads (formerly Headline Search Ads) are one of Amazon’s flagship ad types that can feature brand imagery, messaging, and a product carousel to engage people at the beginning of their shopping journey. Once you know which keywords lead to conversions, you should optimize bids based on advertising cost of sale (ACoS) on a product-by-product basis.

  • Set-up multiple campaigns to run simultaneously.
  • Change one variable at a time.
  • Run the test for at least 2 weeks.
  • Identify winning criteria based on your business goal and the test set-up.

6. Leverage Reporting Data

“For branded campaigns, I always try to give it a little bit of character. Try to incorporate the brand’s tagline or a unique selling prop. If a brand’s products are organic, include ‘organic’ in the copy.”
In 2019, Amazon made the following updates to Sponsored Brands:
One of the key strategies when using Amazon Headline Search Ads is to match keyword intent with the landing page that you are driving traffic to.
Here’s how Sponsored Brands work, their new features, how to set them up, and seven ways to optimize your campaign performance.
Setting up a new Headline Search Ad campaign can be completed by following these steps within Seller Central or AMS.
The golden rule here is to reduce friction for your shoppers by putting the most relevant products in front of them based on their keywords.

7. Prioritize Bids for Placements Above The Fold

“If a shopper is looking for a specific product, make sure your Sponsored Brands ad gets them to that product. If it’s broad, it’s best to get them to page with a greater selection to help them make their decision.”
Savvy Amazon merchants can work around this by leveraging keyword data from their Sponsored Products campaigns, which shows which keywords led to a sale.
Amazon has expanded the functionality of Sponsored Brands to include new targeting options, placements, as well as dynamic optimizations for ASINs that are displayed within the ad itself.
Downloading the Amazon Search Term Report can show which search queries shoppers are using to find your products.

How to display Sponsored Brands above the fold

Sponsored Brands are paid for on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, meaning you pay only for clicks on your ad, not impressions.

  1. Open your campaign settings for your Sponsored Brands campaign.
  2. Select automated bidding and change to manual.
  3. You can now decrease your bids for all placements below the SERP.
  4. Decrease bids by 99% if you don’t want your ad to display in the alternative placements.
amazon headline search ads sponsored bands example
“However, if you look back 30 days or longer and see it’s costing you with no results, you’ll know that adjustments are needed.”

You can find this information by downloading your Amazon Search Term Report.
Judging by the search query, the shopper knows they want “Burton” branded gear, but they don’t know exactly what type of gear they want.

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