As retailers embrace e-commerce, sellers have more methods for reaching valued customers than ever before. One important example is the sponsored result — a type of advertisement that seamlessly blends into customer searches. By leveraging high-visibility space in search feeds, sponsored results drive sales from customers who have decided on a specific product but not a brand.
Let’s take a closer look at how sponsored results help sellers succeed in competitive digital marketplaces.
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What's the difference between sponsored ads and sponsored results? Check out Sponsored Ads: The Ultimate Guide for the answers to this and other questions.
What Are Sponsored Results?
Sponsored results are a type of paid advertisement that deploys alongside organic search results. They usually take the form of native ads that blend in almost seamlessly with standard ad listings. Advertisers are not always limited to native formats, however — some platforms offer banner or carousel-based sponsored ads that display promoted products related to particular keywords.
The most common example of sponsored results are Google Search listings that place promoted search results ahead of organic traffic. In practice, sponsored results can appear on any digital marketplace. All retail apps and websites that let customers search for products can accept bids to highlight a promotion, representing an excellent opportunity for advertisers.Back to top
Examples of Sponsored Results Services
Sponsored result marketing channels deal in many of the same concepts that other channels do, including performance-based pricing models, keyword targeting, and audience specification. Despite this overlap, advertisers will need to consider the specific mechanics of each marketplace’s unique sponsored results offering in order to be effective. Every retailer offers slightly different features that influence ad content creation and performance measurement. Knowing these capabilities makes it easier to generate sponsored results that will ultimately reach the ideal customer and drive more conversions.Back to top
As part of our Retail Media Platform, Moloco offers digital marketplaces and content publishers a turnkey solution for implementing sponsored results across their digital commerce platforms. This enables sellers to improve product discoverability, conversion, and return on ad spend (ROAS) with first-party data and advanced prediction models while driving shopper engagement and increasing purchases through native and personalized ads. Get in touch with us to learn more!Back to top
Amazon’s “Sponsored Product” service includes tools that display products in a sponsored result field. When merchants activate this feature, Amazon automatically generates an ad based on your product listing. This creative will appear in search results for related products as a sponsored listing or a top-of-page banner, targeting preferred audiences automatically.
All Sponsored Product ads use cost-per-click pricing, which guarantees that advertisers only pay for placements that drive customer interest. While automated creative is relatively hands-off, Amazon does offer internal performance metrics so merchants can optimize their storefront landing page accordingly.Back to top
Apple’s iOS storefront offers two versions of sponsored results advertising. The first is Basic, which manages the entire process for advertisers. The App Store’s built-in intelligent automation will create ads, target audiences, and maximize performance with minimal input — all marketers need to do is set their goal and budget.
On the other hand, Advanced content unlocks hands-on tools for anyone who prefers to optimize performance manually. For example, advertisers can choose where to place ads — such as above standard results or within the search tab. Advanced results also open the door for target audiences, custom placement bids, and personalized recommendation features. Finally, advertisers gain API support so they can customize how they track performance data.Back to top
eBay merchants include private sellers, full-fledged retail operations, and everyone in-between. For that reason, its sponsored content tools need to be robust enough to meet a broad range of advertiser needs. eBay’s solution is “Promoted Listings Standard,” a sponsored results service for any Above Standard or Top Rated seller with recent sales activity in their profile.
Promoted Listings Standard offers four sets of sponsored tools to reflect the needs of different seller types:
Seller Hub: eBay’s “sell it fast” option automatically promotes one or more items with a few short clicks.
Simple Listing Selection: An advanced tool for selecting listings, setting rates, and reviewing campaigns before launching.
Bulk Listing Selection: Similar to simple listings, but lets sellers bulk select products to produce campaigns under a single rate.
Automated Campaigns: eBay’s most advanced sponsored campaign service with advanced listing filters and ad rate strategies.
While all options will generate sponsored results, the variety makes sure sellers of all inventory volumes and advertising expertise are equally served. For example, a private seller hoping to sell a used product can meet their needs at the Seller Hub. Meanwhile, an established merchant with high sales velocity will benefit from Bulk Listings or Automated Campaigns.Back to top
Home Depot offers a robust range of sponsored content promotions under “Retail Media+” — a program that supports onsite and offsite ad placements. Any advertiser looking to promote a new product will have access to three kinds of onsite sponsorships:
Search grid: Traditional sponsored result listings that align with relevant keywords.
Carousel: A display wheel of sponsored products that relate to customer searches.
Banner: A top-of-page ad placement that uses imagery to stand out from search results.
Home Depot also helps advertisers supplement their sponsored content with offsite placements and retargeting options. For example, if a customer views a product during a search, brands can deploy follow-up ads for the item to associated social media feeds and email addresses. This grants advertisers a larger perspective of the buyer’s journey, helping advertisers optimize their efforts beyond sponsored promotions and keywords.Back to top
UberEats introduced a new “sponsored listings” feature during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as customers needed to expand their home delivery options. These ads appear at the top of UberEats’ main feed, following the same general format as traditional restaurant listings. While the service is relatively new, UberEats claims that for every $1 in ad spend, restaurants earn approximately $5 in revenue.
Sponsored listings are generally automated with cost-per-click pricing, but advertisers have various tools to optimize their performance. For example, along with setting their weekly budget, merchants can target customers by location, ordering behaviors, and dietary preferences. When combined with keywords associated with the restaurant’s landing page, these filters make it easier for customers to find precisely the meal they’re craving.Back to top
Best Practices for Sponsored Results
As these examples illustrate, sponsored result opportunities vary by digital storefront. However, advertisers should keep a few general principles in mind, regardless of their industry and retailer:
Strategize keyword selection: The most effective keywords for organic search rankings can be just as effective for sponsored content. Harvest any high-performing keywords from other search campaigns and apply them to retail marketplaces.
Consider customer intent: Certain keywords are more likely to reflect the purchasing intent of a given customer. For example, “camping gear” implies that someone is generally looking for items but hasn’t yet decided on what they need. Meanwhile, searches for “tent” or “hiking boots” are far more likely to lead to a purchase.
Leverage measurement tools: Most retail marketplaces include tools that measure the performance of keywords and ad content associated with each click. Dig into these metrics to optimize bids and sponsored content.
Don’t forget about your landing page: When a customer clicks on a sponsored link but finds a less than engaging product listing, they will leave — and the advertiser still paid for that click. Be sure to pay attention to landing page optimization so your target audience finds exactly the details they need.
Optimize everything: Most sponsored results have limited space to deliver a message. Advertisers should optimize everything they can to communicate the most relevant details to their target audience. Consider the headline, subject line, and any associated imagery.
Producing the most engaging sponsored results can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Moloco provides a full suite of sponsored ad tools that help sellers improve product discoverability, conversions, and return on ad spend using our advanced prediction models. What’s more, sellers can manage their campaigns directly using Moloco APIs that connect with existing campaign management tools. Take a look at our Retail Media Platform for more details.