Amazon Publisher Services Guide

Brock Munro
January 8, 2021
April 23, 2024
Amazon Publisher Services Guide

Amazon Publisher Services shot up in the rankings in 2019, emerging as a challenger to Google. In fact, it is predicted to gain 9.7% of the US advertising market by 2021. In this article, we take a closer look at how publishers can get into Amazon programmatic advertising, as well as the services available and how they work.

Amazon digital ad revenues

What is Amazon Publisher Services (APS)?

Amazon Publisher Services (APS) is a suite of tools and cloud services for web and app publishers to build, grow, and monetize their digital businesses. It is a cloud-based marketplace that brings all the solutions built by Amazon for publishers under one suite. 

Amazon Publisher Services include the Transparent Ad Marketplace (TAM), the Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM), and Shopping Insight. These services allow publishers to improve revenue with no impact on latency with one call to Amazon’s cloud-based marketplace. The revenue increase is due to a large, competitive field of bidding as well as superior transparency for publishers. As a result, publishers can better understand what marketing strategies yield superior results.

Both the Transparent Ad Marketplace and the Unified Marketplace rely on header bidding services. Header bidding is a technology that allows a publisher to offer its inventory of available ad spots to many ad exchanges simultaneously, so they can bid on spots. This high-speed, digital bidding technique allows advertisers to compete for highly specific and coveted ad spots, while helping publishers more effectively monetize their content.

Let’s take a closer look at the services offered, who they are for, and how publishers can leverage them to their benefit.

How do publishers get into Amazon programmatic advertising? 

Publishers can enter Amazon’s programmatic advertising program through the Transparent Ad Marketplace or the Universal Ad Marketplace. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. While TAM services are targeted towards larger, enterprise publishers, UAM services are for small and mid-level publishers.

The main difference between Amazon UAM and TAM revolves around how each handles SSPs for publishers. An SSP, or supply-side platform, is a software solution for the automated selling of ad space. Publishers use SSPs to sell ad space in a variety of mediums, including text and video ads.

The automated nature of selling space with an SSP partner allows for a publisher to receive competitive bids within an ad marketplace, thereby increasing monetization of their site without having to increase the actual number of ads being run.

With TAM, Amazon Publisher Services assumes the publisher is large and established enough to already have individual relationships with SSPs and simply seeks to centralize bidding programmatically in their ad marketplace. By contrast, users of UAM get access to both Amazon ads for publishers and a host of SSPs who work with Amazon, allowing Amazon to manage all the relationships between the SSPs and the publisher.

Services Offered by Amazon for Publishers

Transparent Ad Marketplace (TAM)

TAM - Amazon Publisher Services

Amazon TAM is the preferred Amazon advertising platform for larger publishers. It is a server-side bidding solution for publishers, similar to Google’s open bidding.

Typically, larger publishers already have affiliates they work with within the digital ad marketplace. They are more likely seeking to use Amazon Publisher Services in order to leverage access to Amazon-specific services and the unique Amazon ad marketplace to combine with other header bidding services as an additional monetization effort.

As mentioned, users of TAM will need to have existing contractual relationships with all their demand bid partners, since Amazon simply acts as a centralized system for these header bidding services. As to what partners they work with, Amazon boasts over 20, including such popular ones as AppNexus, Facebook Audience Network, OpenX, RubiconProject, Smaatom, and SpotX. TAM users can also turn off any bidders they wish in real-time.

For transparency, Amazon TAM users have access to all auction records, allowing them to review bidders for each impression, bid CPMs, as well as the winner of each.

Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM)

UAM - Amazon Publisher Services

Amazon UAM serves small to midsize publishers well because they do not necessarily already have personal relationships with SSPs. More SSPs means more bids so, in theory, more revenue for publishers. Using Amazon UAM, publishers not only have access to Amazon DSP (Demand Side Platform), but also access to a list of established SSPs including District M, Oath, OpenX, Pubmatic, RhythmOne, and Rubicon. Overall, this allows for extremely competitive bidding for smaller publishers without the need for businesses to develop individual relationships with the SSPs.

UAM also allows for convenient, centralized billing. Amazon releases a single payment on a 60-day basis. However, there are some fees involved. UAM charges a 10% transaction fee from any SSP’s prices.

Users of UAM also have a robust set of reporting tools at their disposal. Amazon services include reporting bid requests, impressions, and earnings. Additionally, there are a host of filters for more granular reporting such as devices, sites, and price points.

Shopping Insights

Shopping Insights

Users of APS also gain access to Amazon Shopping Insights. This tool allows you to understand how your audience engages with Amazon, analysing aggregate data that can be parsed and examined using different types of customizable criteria.

Data from Shopping Insights will give you an excellent window into your visitors’ shopping habits, so you can, in turn, with more granularity tune your content to take advantage of your readers’ interests. In addition, you can form reports to give advertisers a better understanding of your readership and their shopping habits. These reports can be used to compare segmented audiences based on inventory performance and advertiser’s involvement.

Data for Shopping Insights is gathered from Amazon’s first-party audience segment and is collected on domains with at least 5000 unique visits per day. Shopping Insights is only available for users of Amazon’s TAM.

What Are Some Other Advantages of Using Amazon Publisher Services?

Setting up a new digital account with APS allows for a single swift call to the Amazon cloud for all bidding to take place. Not only does this speed up the bidding process, but using the Amazon cloud also frees up a publisher’s bandwidth, further reducing latency.

That being said, the greatest benefit of APS is that publishers can bring Amazon in as a fellow bidder on published offerings. As the third most-visited site in the US, Amazon boasts monthly traffic of approximately 2.4 billion visits per month. This makes access to their bids extremely valuable. 

What Types of Publishers Would Suit Amazon Publisher Services?

APS is suitable for large to mid-sized publishers only. Within those two broad categories, each has its own requirements and expectations. For reasons illustrated below, APS is a best fit for large publishers as their penetration into the midsize publisher market is rather limited. However, mid-sized publishers can benefit from APS if they manage to qualify.

Large scale publishers

For large scale publishers, TAM is an ideal solution for those who already have and maintain their own contractual relationships with demand partners. TAM offers server-side multi slot header bidding. It’s single-call, cloud-based architecture allows for reduced latency and access to Amazon as a bidder. It also offers a superior, centralized system for reporting and analysis and works smoothly with most major demand partners.

Mid-size publishers

While Amazon does offer some access to its APS platform to mid-sized publishers, the most important thing to know is that UAM is by invitation only. So, access to their ad marketplace may not even be possible.

Per Amazon, UAM is primarily designed for publishers who represent their site using Google Ad Manager as their ad server. Assuming digital publishers qualify, UAM offers a wealth of reporting features, simplified billing, and access to both Amazon ads and several SSPs. It should also be noted that UAM has a processing fee of 10% of bid prices from participating SSPs.

Small scale publishers

Simply put, Amazon does not work with small scale publishers, nor have they expressed any interest in doing so in the future. Small publishers are recommended to search elsewhere for monetization of their web content.

How to Get Started with Amazon Publisher Services

Amazon Publisher Services are currently limited to a few geographies like US. If you’re one of the large scale publishers, getting started with APS is fairly straightforward. If you’re set up for multi-header bidding and you have a current relationship set up with your demand partners, you’re ready to go. To get started, you need to fill out the Contact Form. After submitting it, an Amazon representative will contact you and discuss details.

Not all publishers can use APS - it depends on size, niche, and geography of the publisher business. For smaller, mid-size publishers, as noted, you’ll need a personal invitation from Amazon to take part in APS.

What to Do if You Don’t Qualify for Amazon Publisher Services

If your small business does not qualify for entry into APS, there are other routes to choose from to monetize your web content.

1. Google AdSense 

Google AdSense has a far lower bar of entry and has a near 100% fill rate for advertising. Moreover, its payout is fairly competitive. Google AI is also excellent at targeting your reader demographic with relevant ads. If you’re not sold, check out our guide to best Adsense alternatives.

2. Xandr

Xandr, owned by AT&T, has one of the largest collections of digital, film, and TV properties. In 2019, Xander launched Community, a video marketplace launched to connect video advertisers and publishers to achieve better yields on inventory for publishers in general.

3. Index Exchange

Index Exchange differentiates itself, not by volume, but by quality. They are extremely selective about what advertisers they let into their system, meaning advertisers have been meaningfully vetted before allowed entry into auctions.

4. Verizon Media

Verizon Media represents what was once AOL. They are known for good return CPMs and vetting for quality advertisers. They also offer several forms of video units for advertisers.

5. OpenX

OpenX is truly an open platform. 1,500+ publishers rely upon the OpenX Exchange to monetize their business, and 34,000 advertisers utilize the OpenX Exchange to reach and engage their target consumer audiences. It boasts 1.5 trillion bid transactions per day. Again, that is per day. This makes OpenX one of the uncontested heavies in the bidding market.

Amazon Publisher Services for Your publishing needs

APS is an ideal solution for mid to large scale publishers. Publishers need not change their relationship with demand partners, as APS simplified this relationship by providing a centralized platform for managing their service. 

That being said, mid-size publishers can take advantage of APS by invitation only. While it may be advantageous for mid-scale businesses, Amazon is not actively courting them. Therefore, mid-scale and smaller businesses should consider alternatives for their advertising needs. Companies, including Google, have shown they are far more willing to work with smaller companies and offer plenty of chances to take advantage of server-side ad bidding. 

However, if a company can qualify for APS, it is certainly economically worth considering.

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