28th February 2020
Amazon Vs Google: Where Should You Prioritise Your Marketing Budget?
If you’re an online retailer with an advertising budget, it can be hard to know where to invest your money in order to get a good return. In this article we will look at Google and Amazon’s offerings for product advertising, shedding light on the positives of each platform from a retail perspective and helping you to decide which approach may be right for your ecommerce business.
The Case For Amazon Advertising
What is Amazon Advertising?
Amazon describes its Sponsored Products approach as helping Amazon customers to “discover and purchase products that you sell on Amazon with ads that appear in search results and on product pages.” Amazon’s size and online presence can’t be understated, with more than 197 million people globally using the website and app each month. Whilst that may be lower than Google, it’s significant when you consider that people are using the website with purchase intent in mind – this becomes a real opportunity for advertisers.
How Does Amazon Advertising Work?
The Amazon Sponsored Products process is very similar to Google Ads in approach:
- Choose the products you want to advertise
- Decide which keywords to target
- Decide how much to bid for clicks
- Add a budget
- Create an ad
- Begin advertising your products
Just be mindful that there are costs incurred with selling on Amazon regardless of advertising spend, so ensure that your business factors this into ROI goals. This works best when you are selling your own products with little to no margin.
Amazon Customers Bypass Search Engines In The Buying Process
In addition to Amazon’s scale, the Amazon Shopping mobile app also means that potential customers may bypass Google and other search engines entirely when searching for their next purchase. That’s the first challenge - if people are looking for your product but not in search engines, how do you get your products in front of them? Having an additional presence by selling products on Amazon would solve this problem, right?
Not quite - from there on in you’re up against the thousands of other retailers who had the same thought process. Stepping into an established - and potentially saturated - marketplace will be challenging for any business. More than 50% of all Amazon sales come from third-party sellers and 80% of all sellers are on other platforms as well as Amazon. To stand out from the crowd, you can use Amazon Sponsored Products to make your products appear in top listings for specific searches.
Amazon’s Strong Mobile Site Experience
Mobile remains a tricky challenge for retailers. eCommerce rates remain lower on mobile devices on average for the UK market, compared with desktop and tablet.
If your website isn’t user friendly in terms of mobile usability and checkout experience, then our first recommendation would always be to improve it. However, if for whatever reason that isn’t viable for you in the short-term then Amazon’s mobile website and app may be a good option to drive online sales for your products.
As with our previous point, you are likely to be up against various other sellers in this marketplace – which is where Amazon Sponsored Products can help your products stand out from the crowd.
Using Sponsored Ads To Strengthen Organic Presence In Amazon
Perhaps your business already has a brand presence as a seller on Amazon. In this case, using Sponsored Products may act as a springboard to getting more seller ratings on Amazon. This can show potential customers that you have a larger customer base and can help to reassure and build trust with you as a seller, strengthening your organic presence long-term.
The Case For Google Ads
What Is Google Ads?
Google’s official definition is as follows:
Google Ads is Google's online advertising programme. Through Google Ads, you can create online ads to reach people at the exact moment when they're interested in the products and services that you offer.
How Does Google Ads Work?
- Historically, Google Ads was built on the following foundations:
- Choose keywords relevant to the product you are trying to advertise
- Decide how much to bid for ad clicks
- Create an ad for the product with a suitable landing page
- Set a budget for your Google Ads campaigns
- Begin advertising your products in Google’s auction process
You can find out more about how Google Ads works here in our PPC marketing guide. The evolution Google Ads has taken over the last 5 years in particular has built upon this foundation with the addition of new campaign types such as feed-based Shopping campaigns and smart bidding solutions to drive better results from Google Ads spend.
Branding Your Business
“Wow, nice bag! Where did you buy it from?”
“Thanks! I got it from Amazon.”
An innocent conversation that will lead to sad faces in marketing teams across the land. The nature of the Google Ads offering currently is that users will visit your website from Search, Display and Shopping ads, which is the best possible form of branding for your business.
Contrast it with advertising your products on Amazon, where you are a seller on the Amazon platform and the branding of the website itself is far more likely to outshine your seller’s branding. Take this example from Hownew-X:
Aside from the product itself, the seller name is only a small blue link above the product title. Compare that to the Amazon Fashion heading in the top menu – which do you think will be remembered most by customers?
Google Ads Remarketing Potential
Marketing your own website doesn’t just provide on-site branding and potential word of mouth benefits. It also means you’re capturing the website visitor data to use for future marketing opportunities. You can use remarketing audiences in Google Ads to target previous visitors to your website in a way that could grow sales for your business. Remarketing display ads can be used to target cart abandoners and remain front of mind to a potential customer online, with the aim of enticing them back to complete their sale.
Dynamic Display Remarketing campaigns are also a great tool for targeting previous website visitors, as they can pull in the products from pages that users have specifically viewed in their browsing session within the display ad content. For example, your advert could show the user an image and information about a specific product they have looked at on your website, rather than a different page they may not be as interested in. This increases ad relevancy and boosts the chances of ad engagement and additional sales from the customers.
By advertising on Amazon, you wouldn’t be able to capture this website visitor data. This is because the buying process will take place on the Amazon website or Shopping app, which further limits the opportunity to target potential customers or cart abandoners using ads.
Capitalising On Informational Searches On Google
Not all online sales come from specific product searches. There are times when people are using search engines such as Google for informational searches – how to solve a problem or how to learn something are common themes of these search types.
There is a useful article by Search Engine Land on how online retailers can optimise content for intent to compete on informational searches, so it does show that there is appetite to capture people on these upper funnel searches. (We also looked into this topic from an SEO perspective in our blog post “How to Align Your SEO Content with User Intent”.)
How does this affect Google Ads? Because depending on targeting, ads can appear for informational searches. Take this example below on a search for “which garden roses are best for summer”:
You can see that, despite the search being informational and not directly searching for a specific product, there are Google Shopping ads which are appearing on these searches. Realistically, this isn’t the type of search query that would take place on Amazon, reinforced by this quote from Wordstream:
“While people perform all kinds of different searches on Google, many of which are informational searches, pretty much every Amazon search is transactional.”
Advertising on Google Ads opens advertisers up to a whole new target audience of upper funnel searchers. And as highlighted by the increasingly used flywheel marketing model, these potential customers in the early stages of their decision making process should not be ignored. If you subscribe to this flywheel model, and agree that customers should be the driving force of commerce and not an afterthought, then you’ll likely appreciate the benefits of using Google Ads to reach customers whether they are just beginning to consider which product they may need, or have already completed several transactions with you.
To summarise, there are benefits for using advertising budget on either platform and what’s best for you will likely be based on your current circumstances. For example, if you already have a seller presence on Amazon, then the ease of setting up Sponsored Products may persuade you to trial this paid ad approach initially.
The best-case scenario would be to split your budgets across both Google and Amazon, assessing the performance of each channel regularly to determine which was providing the best ROI. However, if you were to take one of the two platforms in isolation to begin with, we would recommend Google Ads as a starting point for the following reasons:
- Branding – your business will be the sole focus throughout the complete user buying journey
- Remarketing – you will have the ability to retarget website visitors to encourage them to finalise incomplete sales and return for additional sales
- Informational Searches – you will have the ability to target upper funnel question-based searches with product ads
- Smart Bidding - you can use Google’s machine learning to drive better results with your advertising spend