Amazon Display Ads: Amazon DSP vs. Sponsored Display – Which is Right for You?

Elise Jackson

Post details

  • AUTHOR: Elise Jackson
  • CATEGORY: Amazon Advertising
  • DATE: 04/05/2023

Amazon advertising offers tools for you to promote your brand in different ad formats depending on your goals and KPIs. But, how do you know ad type which is right for you?

While there are multiple Amazon Ad solutions that all help with reach and engagement, we are going to specifically mention Amazon DSP (Demand Side Platform) and Sponsored Display ads in this blog.

While they are different solutions, Sponsored Display and Amazon DSP do share some commonalities.

  • The ads can both be displayed on and off Amazon.
  • They can utilise display ads with e-commerce creatives.

However, there are some key differences between the two you should be aware of to make an informed decision about which platform is best for you which is what we will talk about in this blog.

What are Sponsored Display Ads?

Sponsored Display is a self-service advertising tool, accessible via Seller and Vendor Central, that allows brand owners on Amazon to use display advertising both on-platform and off-platform.

Using Sponsored Display, brands can create ads that appear on Amazon product detail pages, search results pages, and other relevant places on Amazon. The ad format allows businesses to reach customers who are already interested in their products, which can help drive more sales to an audience that is highly engaged.

You can purchase ads on a Cost-per-click (CPM) or Cost-per-millie (vCPM is cost per a thousand impressions) basis.


Where do Sponsored Display Ads appear?

Generally, Sponsored Display Ads appear on the Amazon homepage, search result pages, and product detail pages.


What are the benefits of Sponsored Display Ads?

Sponsored Display Ads are used to reach a relevant audience who browse or purchase products on and off Amazon, so you are reaching an already interested audience. Here are the benefits of this type of ad:


1. Product and brand awareness

If you want to increase awareness of your products, Sponsored Display enables you to target relevant product categories on Amazon, with targeting refinement on attributes such as brand, price, category and Prime eligibility. This helps drive awareness among a new audience and improve product discovery.

2. Customer acquisition

You can grow your audience and acquire customers by the targeting options Sponsored Display gives you. Such as – targeting products, categories and audiences that have browsed, searched for or viewed similar products.

By targeting the audience that is viewing similar products, your ad can be placed under your competitor’s listing.

3. Cross-selling or up-selling

With product targeting, you can use Sponsored Display ads to try and cross-sell or up-sell your loyal customers. To do this, you can target your product detail pages to showcase related products – this might encourage customers to also consider buying another product.

4. Re-engage past customers

With Sponsored Display ads you can re-market to customers who have either made a purchase with you in the past or simply viewed your product pages to stay on top of their minds and encourage a sale in the future!

5. Robust analytics dashboard

The Sponsored Display ads dashboard features key data points to help you make data-driven decisions like clicks, impressions, sales considerations and more.

robust amazon analytics


What are the targeting options for Sponsored Display?

  • Product Targeting: Great for product consideration or cross-selling. This target option allows you to promote your product to audiences that are actively searching for your product or similar products and categories.
  • Audiences -Views Remarketing: Perfect for remarketing to high-intent audiences. Views target options help you reengage audiences who have viewed your products or similar products and categories.
  • Audiences – Purchases Remarketing: Great for driving repurchase rates and consumer loyalty, this targeting option is similar to Views Remarketing (above), but instead of targeting customers who already viewed the product, you can target customers who have already purchased the same product, products related or complementary to your advertised products as well as customers who have purchased products within a specific category on Amazon.
  • Audiences – Interests: You would use this for the brand awareness stage. You can introduce your products to audiences based on their shopping interests that are similar to your products: such as Lifestyle, Life Events, In-Market, etc.


Running Sponsored Display ads is great for improving sales and brand awareness of an Amazon listing but they only go so far.

When you want to reach a wider audience off of Amazon, strategic Amazon DSP campaigns can scale your marketing and advertising by reaching customers at all stages of the customer journey on and off Amazon – which we will get into below!


But first – a new announcement from Amazon about Sponsored Display!


Sponsored Display Optimisation Strategy with Cost Controls 

Amazon has just launched a Beta test, giving advertisers the ability to select an optimisation strategy with cost controls. This helps to simplify the campaign management process for advertisers using Sponsored Display. 

Let’s face it, setting bids or targets can feel like you are taking a shot in the dark at times. This newly launched feature allows you to set performance-based parameters that remove the guesswork of selecting an exact bid or target. 

No matter if you are a large company or a one-man band, this new feature helps any budget achieve the desired goals with the help of Amazon’s 1P data and machine learning capabilities. 


Why is this new optimisation strategy with cost control a game-changer? 

Before this launch, you needed to translate your desired goals into efficient bids and targets across different cost types. In reality, this drove down the lower scale and campaign effectiveness. 

Amazon will use machine learning to translate goals into bids and targets with an optimisation strategy and aims to help you to reach your goals via this continuous optimisation. 


How does this work? 

You specify an advertising objective in the form of your optimisation strategy – basically, the products you would like to advertise, a daily budget and an average cost you’re willing to pay per click, or 1k viewable impressions. Then, there are two important levels to influence marketing goals and costs: targets selected and bids. 

So, when you use optimisation strategies, Amazon’s machine learning will help choose the right targets and bids that drive a desired action at your specified cost and budget. 

Bids and targets are optimised by past campaign performance and similar campaigns. If costs are too high, bids are deduced, and if they’re below the target, they will be increased to get more total scale. It’s your own little AI helper that’s constantly trying to help you reach your goals and get as much scale as possible! 


Where is the feature available?

It has been rolled out widely thus far: 

  • North America: United States, Canada, Mexico
  • Europe: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom
  • Middle East: United Arab Emirates
  • Asia Pacific: Australia, India, Japan

If your country is not on the list, hold tight, as this is a Beta test once Amazon deems it worthy it will be rolled out globally.


What is Amazon DSP?

Amazon DSP is a demand-side platform that allows brands to programmatically buy ads at scale. DSP ads can either send traffic to a product listing on Amazon or send them to an external website and can either be operated as a managed service by Amazon or self-service:

  • Amazon-Managed: Amazon provides a directly managed service option with consultative support. A great option for those with limited programmatic advertising experience.
  • Managed Self-Service: Available exclusively to Amazon Agency Partners (such as This is Unicorn) brands can have a greater degree of campaign control. You can bypass the minimum ad spend when you work with an Amazon Ads Partner like us.


With DSP, Amazon sellers can reach a wider audience by targeting their ads to specific audiences based on factors such as demographics, interests, and browsing history.


Where do Amazon DSP ads appear?

Amazon DSP ads appear on various places on and off Amazon such as Amazon pages like homepages, product detail pages, deals pages etc as well as Amazon devices such as Amazon Echo, Fire TV, Fire Table and Kindle.

Amazon DSP ads can also appear on any Amazon-owned websites like Goodreads, IMDb and any affiliate websites and apps in Amazon’s network.


What are the benefits of Amazon DSP ads?

1. Advanced audiences

With so many ad impressions available the challenge for programmatic practitioners is not reach or scale – it’s to create rules-based campaigns to ensure that only valuable ad impressions are purchased.

Amazon DSP enables brands to target people who have viewed, searched or purchased specific products on Amazon as well as utilise this information for further understanding of an audience’s interests, demographics and in-market preferences.

2. Unique Supply

“Unique Supply” on Amazon refers to the impressions advertisers can earn through the DSP via inventory uniquely owned by Amazon via directly owned or operated pages such as Audible, Goodreads, IMDb, etc.

There is also inventory owned by third-party exchanges, Amazon Publisher Services and targeted marketplaces where advertisers can reach shoppers anywhere they consume content.

Because advertisers can reach audiences across multiple platforms, they can create cross-device campaigns.

3. Brand safety

Brand safety in advertising has increasingly become a priority for brands, as automation at times can place your ads that are next to content that does not align with your brand’s values and that you would not pick if you were running manual ads.

Amazon DSP uses both its own and third-party solutions to monitor real-time bids to site reviews for brand safety, traffic quality, viewability and third-supply quality to avoid your brand being associated with potentially harmful or just irrelevant content.


What are the Amazon DSP targeting options?

  • Contextual: Great for brand awareness. You can target shoppers that are actively looking at products related to your brand.
  • Lifestyle: Another great targeting option for brand awareness and product consideration. You can target shoppers who have shown search and purchasing habits related to lifestyle groups (think fitness or pet lovers!)
  • In-Market: You can target shoppers who have shown intent in the past 30 days to purchase a product within one of Amazon’s subcategories.
  • Audience Lookalike: Great for awareness of your products. You can target audiences that have similar demographics and shopping behaviours as your current customers.
  • Remarketing: Perfect for remarketing to high-intent audiences. You can reengage shoppers who have previously engaged with a product.
  • Advertiser Audiences: Great for increasing campaign relevance for existing or interested customers. This target option allows advertisers to add their existing audiences to their Amazon ads campaigns.


What are the different Amazon DSP Ad formats?

1. Static Ads

As the name suggests, these are ads that feature an image and a simple call to action that links to a landing page or website.

2. Dynamic Ads

These ads are a little smarter – the content that is shown to the customer has been optimised based on the customer’s behaviour. If Amazon has observed a purchasing behaviour, Amazon will show a dynamic ad like a customer review if that customer has previously looked at reviews before purchasing – pretty smart!

3. Video Ads

You can use any brand videos, video ads etc as an advert! This is great because gives a chance to be more engaging to the audience. When a customer clicks on these they will be taken to the destination you have included in the link – website, your brand page on Amazon, product listings etc.

4. Over the top Ads (OTT)

Amazon OTT ads are full-screen video ads that display on TV sources! They are not clickable ads but their goal is to increase awareness and encourage customers to take action on a different medium.


How do Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display differ?

So, while we have discussed that both can be used to advertise on and off Amazon, there are some key differences between the two ad solutions:

  • Sponsored Display is exclusive to Sellers and Vendors on Amazon whereas Amazon DSP can be used by advertisers both on and off Amazon.
  • Sponsored display is a self-service platform, whereas Amazon DSP is an advertising product that enables you to programmatically buy ads.
  • Traffic can go to another site when using Amazon DSP but Sponsored Display advertisers can only send traffic to their Amazon product listings.
  • Sponsored Display has a minimum investment of $1 and DSP varies between regions and can be much more expensive!
  • You can bid on specific user groups (based on their behaviours) when using Amazon DSP but Sponsored Display works by targeting keywords and individual ASINS.
  • On Sponsored Display, you can choose between a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand impression (CPM) structure whereas DSP only has CPM structure.


Top tip: Use the two tools together


You don’t need to use one or the other, you can use both tools at the same time! Here are a few ways brands can fire up their strategy by using them together.

1. Power-up brand awareness

You can use Sponsored Display to promote all ASINS and identify the top performers within your campaigns. You can then take these top performers across to DSP.

2. Use both for retargeting
Imagine you’ve just ended Cyber Week and you want to retarget shoppers who view your product listings, if you move this list over to DSP, you can extend momentum by targeting them off Amazon.


Our Strategic Take on Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display

Completely self-service, Sponsored Display is quick and easy to set up and with the minimum spend being low, advertisers can test audiences, budgets, and which products perform well with display ads for a low cost.

Amazon DSP is an advanced media solution, therefore we recommend starting with Sponsored Display advertising, and then expanding to DSP when budget and objectives allow.

As part of an advanced Amazon Ads strategy, brands looking to leverage all parts of the purchase journey should consider using DSP and Sponsored Display in tandem. However, it’s important to ensure that the objectives for each campaign type are clearly defined in your marketing strategy, so you can measure the performance effectively.


Need our help?

Want a partner who has years of Amazon advertising experience and can take your Amazon ad campaigns to the next level? Well, what a coincidence, that’s exactly what we can do! Just send us a message or give us a call and we can have a chat about your Amazon Ads strategy.


Who are we?

This Is Unicorn is a full-service Amazon agency, supporting brands on Amazon. Our services are tailored for your brand. We help Amazon Sellers & Vendors like you to harness the power of the platform for growth. By working with you — not for you — we’re able to tailor and implement an Amazon strategy specific to your brand. Grow your performance with a great Amazon experience, done the Unicorn way.


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