If you’re selling on Amazon and looking to expand your brand’s reach to a wide new audience, Sponsored Display ads may be just what you’re looking for.

This unique Amazon advertising format allows you to grow your reach to relevant audiences both on and off the Amazon platform.

This means you can engage with shoppers throughout their purchase journey and build a bigger audience than ever before.

But where should the average advertiser even start?

Amazon Sponsored Display ads carry a lot of unique features that you may not have encountered with the more familiar Sponsored Products or Sponsored Brands ads.

So, in this article, we’ll break down exactly what those differences are and how to best set up your Sponsored Display ads for success.

Let’s get started!


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How do Amazon Sponsored Display ads work?

Amazon Sponsored Display ads can be created and managed from within the same Campaign Manager dashboard that you’re likely already familiar with.

However, they do differ in many ways from the more widely used Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands.

Key differences and benefits include:


While other formats are best suited to middle and bottom-of-funnel marketing designed to drive immediate sales, Amazon Sponsored Display ads are suitable for a full-funnel marketing approach.


You can drive awareness about your products by targeting shoppers with relevant interests and recent shopping behavior.

You can then increase consideration and conversion for your products by retargeting shoppers who have already visited your product detail page.


Speaking of targeting, Sponsored Display ads differ from Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands in that they don’t target keywords.

Instead, Sponsored Display campaigns are set up to target audience interests and behaviors.

For example, if you are selling yoga mats, you could target shoppers who have recently been browsing for yoga mats, shoppers who are on the detail page of a yoga mat, or even those who have recently viewed your specific yoga mat.


Based on the targeting options you choose, your ads can run on Amazon product detail pages, search results pages, and other pages across Amazon.

Sponsored Display ads appear very prominently on product detail pages, with ad spots situated above the fold near the buy box where buyers with a high purchase intent will see them.

Amazon sponsored display delivery

Sponsored Display ads can also be set up to reach audiences off Amazon on other third-party websites and apps.

This feature – unique to Sponsored Display ads – helps brand owners expand their reach to new audiences and deploy a retargeting strategy that keeps their brand and products top of mind.


With Sponsored Products ads, no design is needed. Amazon simply uses your main image and title in the ad.

With Sponsored Brands ads and Sponsored Display ads, you have some customization options including headlines, logos, video, and custom images.

This means there is more work to set your ads up, but also gives more opportunity for you to test and optimize your ads.


Sponsored Display ads, like Sponsored Brands ads, require a seller to be enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry to have access to them.


You have three different bidding options for Sponsored Display ads:

  • Optimize for reach
  • Optimize for page visits
  • Optimize for conversions

Optimizing for page visits or conversion will be charged in the familiar CPC (cost-per-click) format.

Whereas optimizing for reach will be charged by CPM (cost-per-mille) which means cost per 1,000 impressions.


Amazon also refers to this as VCPM or cost per 1,000 viewable impressions to try and distinguish between ads that load on the page and ads that the customer actually sees.

Using a CPM model can be more costly and is harder to attribute to direct sales.

In general, Sponsored Display ads can be more expensive and produce a lower immediate return on ad spend.

However, the combination of these unique features and benefits helps you build a full-funnel marketing approach and reach wider, yet relevant audiences throughout their shopping journey.

Ready to get started with setting up campaigns? Let’s dive in.


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Setting up Sponsored Display ad campaigns

In order to create Sponsored Display ads, there are six key steps to take.

Step 1: Settings

Firstly, head to Campaign Manager inside Seller Central and click the “Create Campaign” button.

When given the option, choose Sponsored Display ads.

Amazon sponsored display ads

Then complete the key settings of your campaign including the campaign name, ad group name, start and end date, and daily budget.

Amazon sponsored display ads settings

You can also add these campaigns to a portfolio to make analyzing campaigns easier. For instance, you could have a portfolio for each product, or a dedicated portfolio for all your Sponsored Display ads.


You can currently only put each individual campaign into one portfolio at a time.

Step 2: Bidding

Next, it’s time to choose a bidding strategy.

Sponsored display campaign bidding strategy

You have three options here

  • Optimize for reach: Your bids will be optimized for higher viewable impressions. Best for driving brand or product awareness by showing your ad to relevant audiences to maximize reach.
  • Optimize for page visits: Your bids will be optimized for higher page visits. Best for driving brand or product consideration by showing your ads to shoppers more likely to click.
  • Optimize for conversions: Your bids will be optimized for higher conversion rates. Best for driving sales by showing your ad to shoppers more likely to purchase your product.

For most advertisers when starting out, the best bet is to opt for conversions.

This will have the most likelihood of driving immediate, sustainable results.

However, as you grow in confidence with Sponsored Display ads (or if you have a big marketing budget that needs to be spent!) you can test reach and page visits too.


Optimize for reach and page visits to grow your top-of-funnel audience, then retarget visitors with a conversion bidding strategy.

Step 3: Ad Format

Next up is choosing your ad format, and there are two simple choices here.

Amazon sponsored display ad format

You can opt for images or videos to be displayed with your ad.

We’ll set these up in the final step of the process.

Step 4: Products

Another simple step, and that’s choosing the product(s) you want to advertise.

Unless your advertising strategy dictates otherwise, try and stick to one product per campaign as a general rule.

This will help you manage budgets effectively and help with organization when it comes to optimizing your PPC campaigns.

Step 5: Targeting

When creating Amazon Sponsored Display Ads, you have two main targeting options: Contextual targeting and Audiences.

Sponsored display targeting

These options enable you to create a targeting strategy that engages shoppers across the purchase journey and keeps your brand top of mind at all times.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual Targeting (formerly Product Targeting) allows you to reach customers who are browsing your product or similar products and categories.

You can target specific product detail pages, competitor listings, or complementary products in very similar ways to how you do with Sponsored Brads & Products ads.

The key difference though is where your Sponsored Display ads appear on the product page.

Rather than being buried deep on the product details page, these ads can appear prominently above the fold under a product’s bullet points or buy box.

Sponsored display positioning

This gives you the opportunity to grab attention right where a customer is looking to check out.


Use Helium 10’s Black Box tool with filters set to find competing products priced more expensively than yours, with a lower review count, or both.

When your display ad shows up below the buy box it’s a no-brainer to check out your product too!

To select products or categories to target with this setting, either filter through Amazon’s suggestions or provide a pre-prepared list.

Set bids for each product or category, and you’re all set.


Your second targeting option is Audiences, which is broken down into three further options:

  • Amazon Audiences
  • Views Remarketing
  • and Purchases Remarketing

Amazon Audiences are created and managed by Amazon using insights from their vast data sets from both shopping and streaming-oriented services like Twitch.

These audiences are made up of 4 categories:

  • In-market: Shoppers that are “in the aisle” and recently shopped for products in a specific category. You can reach audiences in your product category, or test new categories to grow brand reach.
  • Lifestyle: A category that reflects a range of shopping and viewing behaviors. These include shopping on Amazon websites, but it can also include customers streaming on Prime Video or Twitch if viewing relevant content (eg. gaming products when watching gamers, fitness equipment when watching sports, and so on.)
  • Interests: Groups of customers who share a common interest, based on Amazon browse and conversion signals.
  • Life events: Segments of customers based around key life moments.

Views Remarketing enables you to retarget customers who have viewed specific product detail pages in the past.

This is ideal for firstly retargeting customers who viewed your products but didn’t convert on the first visit.

However, you can also target customers who have viewed similar products to yours or even viewed products in a similar category.

Finally, Purchases Remarketing acts very similarly to Views Remarketing except with the obvious difference that these ads will target shoppers who have actually purchased the products in question.

This can prove very useful as it gives you a segment of active buyers in the market but allows you to reach beyond your own customer pool.

As you can see, Sponsored Display advertising gives you a lot of targeting options.

Ultimately, combining a mix of both Contextual targeting and Sponsored Display audiences you can reach shoppers at all stages of the buying journey and give your products the widest exposure possible.

Learn more about these targeting options in our podcast interview with Amazon PPC expert Stephen Noch:

Step 6: Creative

Finally, it’s time to add creative elements to your Sponsored Display ad campaign.

These are elements that will show in addition to your main image, product title, review count, and price.

Sponsored display creative

You can add a custom brand logo, a headline, and either a custom image or video.

For the logo, it’s pretty straightforward – add your logo!

For your headline, you’ve got up to 50 characters to use, so create a compelling benefit-driven caption.


Struggling to come up with a good headline? Use this prompt in ChatGPT:

“Write a catchy, engaging headline for a [product name] that gives a clear call to action. The main benefits of this product are that it [list benefits]. This headline must be under 50 characters.”

Not a fan of the first output? Tell ChatGPT to give you 3 alternative options and use the inspiration to edit the best version.

Finally, if you chose the image ad format you can either add a custom image or roll with your main image.

And if you chose the video format you’ll need to add a suitable video.

You can use the assets you already have within your asset library or upload new files.

Once you have your ad creative in place and have completed each of these six steps in place you’ll be ready to launch your first Sponsored Display ad campaign!

Optimizing Sponsored Display ad campaigns

Most casual Amazon sellers never graduate beyond simple Sponsored Products ads, so launching a Sponsored Display campaign immediately puts you in the top percentile of advertisers.

However, to make this ad format something that works well for you over the long term, you’ll need to regularly optimize your campaigns.

The process with Amazon display ads is similar to other formats such as Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands:

  • Negate poor-performing targets to minimize wasted ad spend
  • Isolate and promote high-performing targets to maximize return on ad spend

MORE: A full guide on optimizing Amazon PPC campaigns.

Amazon Sponsored Display Ads FAQs

DSP (Demand Side Platform) ads differ from Sponsored Display ads in a number of ways. The main difference is that DSP can be used by advertisers who do not sell directly on Amazon. While Sponsored Display ads will allow you to advertise off-Amazon, all traffic will be routed back to your Amazon properties. DSP allows advertisers to drive traffic to other locations. The other major difference is that you will be required to invest a minimum of $10,000 per month in DSP to get set up on the platform.

Yes, most good Amazon PPC tools will include features that help you automate optimization tasks within Sponsored Display ad campaigns.

That really does depend on your overall budget and strategy. However, most sellers starting with Sponsored Display ads find a good balance is investing 70-80% of their budget in Sponsored Product ads, 10-20% in Sponsored Brand ads, and 5-10% in Sponsored Display ads

Are Sponsored Display ads worth it?

Sponsored Display ads are a unique format within the Amazon PPC setup.

They offer a far wider reach than Sponsored Products or Sponsored Brands which can help a growing business build brand awareness and attract new to brand customers.

However, with that extra reach comes extra challenges.

Throw the net too wide and you could start running up expensive advertising bills with little to show in return.

But get the balance right and you can reach customers your competitors won’t while scaling your advertising efforts exponentially.

So, Sponsored Display ads are certainly worth it – but only at the right stage in your business journey.

Of course, only you can decide when that time is.

But most sellers will find that Sponsored Display ads are only an option to start exploring once you have maximized the opportunities within Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Product ads.

If you want to go even more in-depth on topics like these, why not explore our Amazon PPC course designed to give you the step-by-step playbook for Amazon advertising success.

Ben Donovan


Ben Donovan
Ben is the founder of Brand Builder University and has a passion for helping normal everyday people create financial freedom by building successful eCommerce businesses. He lives in Manchester, UK with his wife and 2 children and loves to play sport and watch continual re-runs of The Office (US version, obviously).


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