Amazon is testing a new “Our Brand” badge for its private label products. Sponsored products ads for Amazon-owned brands now have a label “Our Brand” instead of “Sponsored.” Amazon has also increased the number of sponsored products ads at the start of search results from two to three across all searches.
These changes increase exposure for Amazon-owned brands like AmazonBasics as well as make them appear as not ads even though they are. However, “Our Brand” is not applied to Amazon brands in organic search results, only to sponsored products ads (which are visually identical to search results).
“We fought tooth and nail with those guys, because of course they wanted preferential treatment in search,” one former Amazon search executive was quoted by The Wall Street Journal referring to the Amazon’s private-label team. Changes to sponsored products ads highlight another example of preferential treatment - sponsored Amazon brands now visually appear different than the rest of sponsored products.
Amazon sponsored products ads are pay-per-click ads based on keyword targeting. These ads appear at the top and bottom of the search results, as well as within organic results. Sponsored products are the most popular ad type by the share of the total ad spend on Amazon.
Amazon updated the sponsored products ads layout to a 3-4-5 layout from the previous 2-4-6 layout. Search results now start with three sponsored products ads instead of two, followed by organic results, then four sponsored products ads followed by organic results, finishing with five sponsored products ads instead of six. Search results still include 48 organic results plus 12 sponsored products ads, for a total of 60 results. Amazon uses a 4-4-4 layout internationally.
Three out of five first search results on Amazon are now ads, and only two are organic results. In searches without an Amazon brand ad, the three sponsored products ads spots are available to any brand. Search platforms like Google and Amazon are proven to drive the highest number of clicks to the first few search results; thus, this change is expected to reduce the number of clicks to organic results.
Brands and advertisers have started to describe Amazon as a “pay-to-play” shopping platform because advertising is increasingly required to get sales. Brands have to buy ads to place prominently in search results as Amazon organic results get increasingly pushed down by sponsored products ads as well as recommendations and other display elements.