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Amazon Re-Emerges in Bing Search Ad Auctions

Updated June 11, 2020: This morning, Amazon was spotted in Product Listing Ads on Google. They reappeared a little quicker than we originally speculated! Our recommendations of keeping an eye on auction insights still hold true.

Amazon all but disappeared from Google and Bing paid search auctions in mid-March as it focused on the dramatic order influx from Americans sheltering-at-home. With increased demand and shipping and fulfillment challenges, driving additional traffic through paid placements was not a priority.

It appears that Amazon is ready to start driving orders through paid search again. The week of May 24th Amazon started showing back up in Bing shopping and text auction insight reports, with a significant jump happening on June 5th and continuing into the weekend. For sampled clients, Amazon’s impression share is as high as 47% on shopping campaigns and 38% on text campaigns, though the numbers vary by industry and retailer. However, the trend of Amazon re-entering the auction and increasing share dramatically starting on June 5th is consistent across several retail categories, including Outdoor, Apparel, Footwear, and Cosmetics.

Amazon’s presence heavily impacts the search landscape

Amazon’s re-entry into paid search advertising is significant for retailers for whom Amazon is typically a major competitor. While some categories saw revenue declines over the past few months, other categories have experienced substantial year-over-year revenue gains in ecommerce. Some of this increase is driven by increased demand, but less competition from Amazon is also likely a factor.

Less competition translates to lower search ad CPCs, better positioning/visibility on the SERP, and a better chance at converting customers that might have otherwise been drawn to Amazon’s shipping or pricing. Prior to pulling out of search auctions, Amazon consistently captured 40% or more (in some cases, much more) impression share across retail on Google Shopping ads, and 25%+ for Google text ads.

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While we’re only seeing Amazon on Bing right now, we hypothesize that this is Amazon’s way of testing the waters to ensure that its infrastructure can handle the increase in demand from paid search investment. If we continue to see impression share levels at current levels or higher, it would not be surprising to see Amazon back on Google within a week or two.

What can advertisers do?

Advertisers should keep an eye on CPCs and monitor auction insights for both Google and Bing to stay on top of shifts in Amazon’s prominence. Consider checking trends at the category and ad type level -  Amazon’s reentry onto Google may vary by industry depending on its stock levels for certain products.

Advertisers should also ensure that ad copy, extensions, and Shopping ad data are up-to-date and highlight points of parity (fast, free shipping) or points of differentiation (curbside pickup) to be as competitive as possible. This, of course, is always good practice, but worth checking again, especially with the changes in shipping and in-store options that have occurred over the last few months.

It’s also critical to consider ‘the Amazon factor’ in conversations around budgeting and forecasting. While we don’t know exactly when Amazon will be back on Google, we can certainly expect that when they do appear, it will have an impact on both the cost and revenue side of the profitability equation. Given the signs we’re seeing on Bing, we expect it will be sooner rather than later.

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