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    February 12, 2020

    Trends Seen in Amazon Sponsored Advertising After Analyzing Millions of SERPs

    At MerchantWords we analyze copious amounts of data every month to provide the most accurate search metrics and keep you up-to-date on the latest keyword phrases shoppers are using to find your products (and your competitor's products) on Amazon.

    With the explosive growth of Amazon Advertising over the past year, our data science team decided to take a look at how many Sponsored Products advertisements appear on each search engine results page (SERP) on the Amazon US marketplace.

    Our Methodology

    Active professional Amazon sellers with Buy Box eligibility can run Amazon Advertising pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, also known as Sponsored Products, to get their product in front of potential buyers. But, for each SERP, there are a limited number of ad positions.

    Our team analyzed approximately 13 million Amazon US page one SERPs during the month of November 2019. We looked at the number of Sponsored Products ads per page, the average price per page, the categories where these ads appeared or did not appear, and the layouts for each page.

    Our Findings

    1. Competition Can Be Fierce

    Once an advertising opportunity is discovered, sellers jump on it fast. A page can go from zero to a maximum of twelve sponsored ads in just a matter of days.

    To get a sense of how many twelve (12) Sponsored Ad SERPs there are on the US marketplace in a particular month, we looked at the quantity of SERPs segmented by Sponsored Ad count.

    Once an advertising opportunity is discovered, sellers jump on it fast. A page can go from zero to a maximum of twelve sponsored ads in just a matter of days.

    There are two spikes in the graph above:

    1. A significant number of SERPs represent a highly competitive market with the maximum 12 sponsored ads on the page. Once a SERP without ads is discovered and it’s a good opportunity, it can go from 0 to 12 ads very quickly.

    2. There is a curious spike at six sponsored ads. Amazon appears to be imposing a restriction on some SERPs at six sponsored ads while others have the maximum 12 sponsored ads on the page.

    2. Price May Determine the Number of Ads on a Page

    When we reviewed the prices of the products on a particular page it appeared to be a factor in the limit on the number of sponsored ads on the SERP.

    This is a graph of 500,000 random SERP samples from November 2019 data:

    A product's price may determine the number of sponsored ads on an Amazon SERP

    It’s not enough, though, for the price of a single product on the page to be high since the maximum price from the sample of keyword phrases was fairly similar across all of the sponsored ad counts.

    A product's price on Amazon can determine the number of sponsored ads on the SERP.

    The minimum price on the page tends to be higher for the pages with six (6) sponsored ads (median price of $8.57) than all of the other sponsored ad counts (median prices ranging between $5.50 and $6.58). Products for the SERP are generally more expensive than the products on pages with more or fewer sponsored ads.

    serp_all expensive.png

    So, pricing may be a factor in Amazon determining which pages get a limit of six sponsored ads and which pages do not.

    3. Category Effects the Number of Ads on the Page

    Our data team also analyzed the SERPs by category to see if particular categories had more search results pages that were capped at six sponsored ads.

    The product category affects the number of ads displayed on an Amazon SERP

    The Electronics and Cell Phones & Accessories categories have the largest proportion of SERPs that are limited to six sponsored ads.

    The Home & Kitchen; Health, Household & Baby Care; and Beauty & Personal Care categories have a much smaller proportion of SERPs with only 6 sponsored ads.


    % SERP with 6 Sponsored Ads*



    Cell Phones & Accessories


    Health, Household & Baby Care


    Home & Kitchen


    Beauty & Personal Care


    *Data from November 2019

    When reviewing the SERPs in the Electronics category, it became apparent that these six Sponsored Ad SERPs had a different layout than the pages with up to 12 ads. These pages had a stacked 16x1 layout instead of a 16x4 grid layout.

    We performed random visual checks on SERPs with only six ads and found that many were classified in multiple categories and had overlap with the Electronics category. For example, “roomba 5”, “cordless stick vacuums”, and “air fryer” are primarily in the Home & Kitchen category but are also categorized into Electronics. Products that fell into the Electronics category (primarily or secondarily) were more likely to have a stacked layout.

    It is important to note, that while these pages were limited to only six sponsored ads they include other types of ads as well; these include: Editorial Recommendations, Amazon’s Choice Recommendations, and Sponsored Brands headline ads. As a seller in this category, not only do you have fewer opportunities to control where your ads appear but other products, perhaps larger brands, may be able to pay top dollar for prime ad real estate on the SERP.

    Key Takeaways

    • If you find a good opportunity on a page with no advertising take advantage of this opportunity quickly.

    • If your ad shows up on a page that’s limited to six Sponsored Ads you should be prepared to pay top dollar for these clicks. Additionally, these products tend to have a higher price point.

    • Electronics and Cell Phones can be a tricky market to get into as there is limited “shelf” space on the first page of search with only sixteen organic placements available.

    Interested in more data-driven articles like this one? Subscribe to the MerchantWords blog for the latest news and insights.

    If you have a topic you’d like us to investigate send a message to [email protected].