Google Ads vs. Amazon Advertising: Where to Put Your Advertising Dollars

Google Ads vs Amazon Ads

Google enjoyed search engine dominance for decades. But this streak may be coming to an end, at least when it comes to eCommerce. According to a recent survey by Survata, 49% of US internet users started product searches on Amazon, compared to 36% who went to Google first.

This shift can be partially attributed to customers being further down the conversion funnel when they search on Amazon, whereas users tend to use Google when they are in the research stage of their purchasing journey. Marketers know that the bottom of the sales funnel garners a much higher conversion rate than at the top. Because of this, Amazon Ads offers businesses an opportunity to capture buyers when they’re most likely to convert.

So which platform should eCommerce sellers advertise on to maximize sales? What are the key differences between Amazon Advertising (formerly known as Amazon Marketing Services) and Google Ads (previously Google Adwords)? Here, we explore the ad formats, differences, and benefits of each advertising channel.

SKIP AHEAD

Types of Google Ads

Types of Amazon Ads

Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads: Key Differences

What’s New for Each Platform

Which is Better: Google Ads or Amazon Ads?

 

Types of Google Ads

For eCommerce advertisers, there are several types of Google Ads to consider when promoting a particular brand or product:

 

Text Ads

As the name implies, this ad type is text-based, providing a headline and product details. This ad type displays at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), above organic listings.

 

Responsive Ads

google responsive display adgoogle responsive display ad

This type of ad will adjust its shape to fit into the available space. Recently, Google also added the option for marketers to set up one ad with multiple headlines, and test combinations of that ad to achieve the advertiser’s stated goal.

This feature can be seen above, with State Farm’s ad showing up twice, but with different headlines and call-to-actions:

 

Image Ads

google image ad

Google Image ads can be static or interactive graphics, such as .gif or Flash formats. These ads can appear on the Google SERP and across the Google Network, including the Search Network, search partners, and the Display Network.

 

Video Ads

Google Video ads can either run standalone or be inserted into streaming video content, like the above Grammarly ad that played during a YouTube video.

 

Product Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Product ads display images and product details such as rating, price and merchant. This ad type is displayed at the very top of the SERP, above Text ads and organic results.

 

Showcase Shopping Ads

google showcase shopping adsgoogle showcase shopping ads rooms to go

Google Showcase Shopping ads display the various stores that sell the product you’re looking for. Once the user clicks on a particular merchant, the ad expands to display a new layout or brochure of products. This ad type is displayed at the top of the SERP.

 

Types of Ads on Amazon

Amazon has far fewer ad types than Google Ads, and only display on the Amazon site (as opposed to multiple websites, like the Google Display Network).

 

Amazon Sponsored Product Ads

Amazon Sponsored Product ad

These keyword-targeted ads are usually displayed above or below the search results page, as well as on other product detail pages.

 

Sponsored Brand Ads (formerly Headline Search Ads)
Amazon Headline ad

Sponsored Brand ads display as a headline banner ad on the search results page. These ads are also keyword-targeted and cost-per-click. This type of ad can be used to promote 3 or more products together, as shown in the above screenshot.

 

Amazon Product Display Ads

amazon product display ad

Product Display Ads show up in the sidebar below the Add to Cart button on a competitor’s product, or at the bottom of the product page. This type of ad can be seen as a last-ditch effort to get the user to switch over to your product, as opposed to your competitor’s.

Unlike the other two Amazon ad types, which are designed to target specific keywords, Product Display Ads target “shopper’s interest” or “specific products.”

 

Google Ads vs. Amazon Ads: Key Differences

While both programs can be used to promote products, Google Ads and Amazon Advertising have very distinct features and capabilities.

 

Ranking

Because shoppers are further down the conversion funnel when they search on Amazon, the goal of Amazon Ads is to convert directly. Because of this, Amazon Ads will never lead to a different site.

Google, on the other hand, makes money when a user clicks on the ad. For this reason, Google Ads are optimized to catch the user’s attention. Google Ads, unlike Amazon, lead to the brand’s website.

Google, therefore, prioritizes Click-Through-Rate (CTR) when optimizing ads. This means that Ads will prioritize eye-catching, “clickable” ads.

Amazon ranks ads based on which one is most likely to lead to a sale. They determine the convertibility of an ad based on a combination of Performance Metrics (CTR history, conversion rate, overall sales) and Relevance Metrics (product title, description, search terms, seller name).

Both Google Ads and Amazon Ads use Broad Match (least competitive), Phrase Match (moderately competitive), and Exact Match (most competitive) keywords for bidding.

In addition to these keyword types, Google has an additional match type called Modified Broad Match. This match type makes the Broad Match more specific by allowing their product to appear for misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations, and acronyms of that word.

 

Analytics

Because Google Ads direct shoppers to the brand’s website, the advertiser is able to track user information such as demographics, keywords, and geographic location. Amazon, on the other hand, is limited to the data it collects on the Amazon website itself, such as purchase history, returns, and conversion data. Further, Amazon will only capture shopper information if they convert on your product page.

While Amazon is making an effort to broaden its targeting options, it still lags behind Google’s robust analytical capabilities.

 

Terminology

Ad campaign success can be measured by each platform’s respective ROI metric. For Amazon, this metric is called the Advertising Cost of Sales, or ACoS. This is calculated by dividing the total ad spend by total ad sales.

Google uses Revenue over Ad Spend (RoAS), which can be found by dividing advertising revenue by the dollar amount that is spent on that ad. In this way, RoAS is the inverse of ACoS.

 

What’s new for each platform

Amazon advertising Updates 2019

Amazon announced several new features for their Sponsored Product Ads in January. The updates include Bidding Strategies, Placement Multipliers, and Product Targeting:

  • Bidding Strategies

Amazon introduced two Dynamic bid options, down-only bidding and up-and-down bidding, as well as a Fixed Bid option. The dynamic bid options will lower or raise your bids in real time based on how likely your ad is to convert. Fixed bids are just what they sound like – the bid that you set stays that way. Dynamic bids offer advertisers a more hands-off paid campaign management option.

  • Placement Multipliers

This tool allows advertisers to choose how much they’re willing to adjust their bid to stay at the top of the page or to show up on product pages.

  • Product Targeting

Previously, advertisers could only target sponsored product ads by keyword. With this update, you have the option to target by ASIN or product category.

 

google ads announcements

Google has also recently announced a bevy of Ads updates. Here are the ones that affect product ads the most:

  • Pay for Conversions Display Bidding

Previously, there was only an option to bid for clicks. Now, advertisers have the option to bid based on conversions. This can save advertisers money by not having to pay for clicks that don’t convert.

  • Audience Expansion Setting for Display Network

This setting enables Google to look for high-performing audiences that are similar to your target audience. This capability allows advertisers to expand their reach, without increasing bids on existing campaigns.

  • Display Ad Updates

Advertisers can now include “video assets” to their ads, creating a more responsive ad experience. Google also came out with the ad strength tool, which allows advertisers to improve the performance and optimization of their display ads.

 

So which one is better: Google Ads or Amazon Ads?

Because Google and Amazon attract consumers from different parts of the funnel, the platform you choose depends on what your goals are (and where you sell your products).

If you’re looking to grow brand awareness and web traffic, Google Ads may be the platform to use since the ads direct users to your site. Although Amazon Advertising can contribute to overall brand awareness as well, Google still reigns supreme in individuals at the beginning of the buyer’s journey who are simply searching for a solution to their problem.

If you’re less interested in bringing users to a particular landing page on your site and are more focused on making immediate sales, you may want to invest more in Amazon. Amazon has a customer base that is primed (no pun intended) to buy. Your customer acquisition timeline can be considerably shorter on Amazon.

At the end of the day, if you’d like your website to perform well, you should invest in Google Ads. And if you’d like your Amazon storefront to also perform well – you need to invest in Amazon Advertising. Both platforms can mutually benefit from each other by becoming credibility drivers for your products, as well as your brand.

We recommend anyone in eCommerce to test out both advertising programs to see which one is driving the most return. For most businesses, the answer may be to advertise on both platforms. How you break down your PPC budget between the two will depend on campaign results, sales, the KPI’s you care about and more.

As any advertiser knows, the key to a successful paid ad campaign is continual testing. Whether you choose to invest in Google Ads or Amazon Ads, always monitor your KPIs, analyze your metrics, and be open to adjusting your strategy.

If you’d like to read more about PPC updates, check out You Can Now See if Your Google Ads Drive In-Store Visits – Learn How.

 

You Can Now See if Your Google Ads Drive In-Store Visits – Learn How

open store sign

 

In our increasingly digital landscape, the discovery phase of online marketing is key to introducing a novel customer to your brand for the very first time. But, in a landscape filled with all sorts of distractions and digital disruptions – how can we plausibly determine that our online efforts of discovery and introducing a brand leads to an offline visit to your location. It’s a cause for concern – and the caveat of online marketing is the inability to track the customer journey from online interaction to in-store visit.

Google was aware of this pitfall – and has worked to amass deep-learning technologies and algorithms to accurately determine how online advertising drives in-person visits to brick and mortar locations.

Using anonymized location-based data, Google has taken on this task of merging the online and the offline by detailing and matching coordinates and boundaries of physical locations using services like Google Earth and Google Maps Street View to GPS on personal devices.

But what does this mean for advertisers and business owners?

For you, this means Google can estimate with 99% accuracy the actual number of foot traffic that enters your location after an ad click. And that’s pretty crazy.

 

How it works

Store visit data is based on anonymous, aggregated statistics.

“Recent mapping improvements include a refresh of Google Earth and Google Street View images to get up-to-date views of where buildings begin and end, as well as a global effort to scan WiFi strength in more buildings to determine business boundaries.

Google surveys some users to verify the locations they’ve visited and then reconciles that feedback against its predictions to continue training the models. In addition, Google says it now has teams that conduct in-person audits and site visits.” – Search Engine Land,

Using deep machine learning algorithms , along with access to anonymized data, individuals’ location histories, and precision-based extrapolations, Google Ads creates modeled numbers by using current and past data on the number of people who click or view your ads and later visit your location.

“We do this with machine learning at the core,” said Jerry Dischler, VP of product management for AdWords in an interview. “We couldn’t measure store visits without ML.”

 

What technology is used:

  • Google Earth and Google Maps Street View data.
  • Mapping of the coordinates and borders of hundreds of millions of stores globally.
  • Wi-Fi signal strength in stores.
  • GPS location signals.
  • Google query data.
  • Visit behavior.
  • Panel of over 1 million opted-in users provides their on-ground location history validate data accuracy and inform the modeling.       


What the data says about online ads influencing offline success

In just three years, Google says it has measured four billion store visits.

88% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week.

google store visits stat

 

According to a Google study titled “Google/Purchased Digital Diary: How Consumers Solve Their Needs In the Moment”

  • 7 in 10 smartphone owners who make an in-store purchase take a relevant action on their phone prior to purchase
  • People who click on an advertiser’s Google search ad before visiting a store are over 25% more likely to buy something there
  • They also spend over 10% more on average

 

google store visit statistics

Nissan has referred to in-store visits as a “holy grail” of online marketing – with most buyers in the automotive industry wanting to visit a showroom before a purchase.

Marc Palmer, Nissan UK Marketing Manager said, “Now we are able to find out that someone searched for us and then they went and bought a car – that’s kind of getting close to the Holy Grail.”

And who are we to argue with Nissan, we think they know a thing or two about success.

 

Who Can Use Google In-Store Visits?

According to Google Ads, these are the requirements to be eligible for this Google Ads tool:

  • Have multiple physical store locations in eligible countries. Ask your account representative if store visit conversions are available in your location.
  • Receive thousands of ad clicks and viewable impressions.
  • Have a Google My Business account linked to your Google Ads account.
  • Create each of your store locations in your Google My Business account.
  • Have at least 90% of your linked locations verified in Google My Business.
  • Ensure location extensions are active in your account.
  • Have sufficient store visits data on the backend to attribute to ad click or viewable impressions traffic and pass our user privacy thresholds.

 

Big Picture

If you haven’t already incorporated Google in-store visits into your analytics, you can potentially be missing out on insightful data that can shed light on your Ad’s effectiveness. See if you’re eligible and start gathering the “holy grail” data.

Visit our SEM service page if you need help setting up your store visit tracking.

 

Are You Taking Advantage of the New Extended and Responsive Google Ads?

google ads trend update

New Extended and Responsive Ads

Google recently introduced further extending text ads by adding a third, 30-character headline, attached to the first two headlines, along with a second, 90-character description. This comes at the heels of Google announcing their “360 Suite” where we saw Google Adwords get a rebrand. This allows us, as the advertiser, to more prominently feature exciting benefits to the consumer with added messaging that enhances overall quality. Advertisers now have the flexibility to communicate added messaging like the brand name in the first headline, official site or similar in the second headline, and a third benefit, like free shipping or an offer for discounted orders online.

Google also announced the launch of responsive text ads, which combine an ad in real-time from a list of up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions…we’ll discuss this in more detail below.

google ads 3rd headline example

Benefits of Increased Ad Size and Additional Messaging

Expanded text ads, along with ad extensions, like site links and call extensions, work in synergy to increase overall ad size and perceived value in the SERP. Google’s case studies are evidence for increased performance – praising expanded text ads for helping to increase user engagement through higher click-through rates and increases in other key performance metrics. With a further increase in ad size and messaging, Google’s expansion to additional messaging in ads creates more weight to paid ads displaying prominently. It’s a bullseye for brands looking to literally be front and center at the top of the SERPs.

Smart Performance With Responsive Machine Learning

Google’s exciting announcement is the launch of new responsive text ads. Responsive text ads answer the machine learning puzzle that has become more integrated with Google’s automated algorithms throughout the years.

With responsive ads, the advertiser now has the flexibility to add up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for a single ad. Google suggests, “for a responsive search ad, provide as many headlines and descriptions as makes sense for your business. If you’re having trouble getting started, we recommend focusing on creating at least five headlines.”

Machine learning is designed to predict which ad combination in real-time will result in higher performance for a matched search query.
The recommendation from Google is for every ad group to have at least 3 ads, including a responsive search ad to accommodate and increase the likelihood that you’ll have a winning combination between all variant ads, headlines, and descriptions.

Responsive ads are a win-win for the advertiser and searcher. They provide freshness through instantaneous Ad combinations to the eyes of return visitors familiar with the brand and new visitors alike that are “window shopping” at leisure in the SERP.

Best practices from Google

google search ads best practices(Source: Google Blog)

Tips for entering your headlines

• Keep in mind that headlines and descriptions may appear in any order.
• Try writing the first 3 headlines as if they’ll appear together in your ad.
• Be sure to include at least one of your keywords in your headlines, and create headlines that are relevant to the keywords you’re targeting.
• Try creating headlines of different lengths; don’t try to maximize the character count in every headline.
• Focus on providing as many distinct headlines as you can. More headlines give Google Ads more options for assembling your messages into relevant ads, which may increase performance.
• Try highlighting additional product or service benefits, a problem you’re solving, or highlight shipping and returns information. Learn more about creating responsive search ads
• If you can provide even more headlines, try creating variations of the headlines you’ve already entered. For example, try a different call to action.

With more Google Ad options your PPC Ads can become more sophisticated and targeted to your consumers. What do you think about these new changes?

If you want to read about more Google Updates, check out our 2018 SEO Google Trends post.