What is the Buy-Box on Amazon and how does it affect sales attribution?

With multiple Sellers, the Buy-Box - or featured offer - owner has the highest chance of winning the sale. This article outlines how attribution works with different campaign types and multiple sellers.

What is the Buy-box or featured offer? 

Perhaps some of you have already come across it: in Amazon Seller Central, you may see the term "Amazon Featured Offer" from time to time. This refers to the field that appears in the upper right corner of product detail pages, allowing customers to add a product to their cart or purchase it immediately.

Within this field, customers can also view the product's price, information about potential Prime shipping, and availability. Additionally, buyers have the option to add the product to a list, effectively creating a shopping or wish list, and view "Other Sellers on Amazon" who offer the same product.

If you're familiar with the Buy Box, you'll notice that it follows the same principle with a different name. The Buy Box is now occasionally referred to as the "Featured Offer," but otherwise, it seems that nothing else has changed. The reason for this could be that Amazon is testing which term is more understandable - "Featured Offer" more clearly describes the function of the field compared to "Buy Box." Regardless of what it's called, though, the Featured Offer or Buy Box is crucial to success on Amazon.

How are Sponsored Product Ads attributed?

Sponsored Product Ads revenue is always attributed to the Advertiser and there is no way of advertising a product and not receiving the sale. The reason is that the Advertiser has to own the buy-box for a product to advertise. If the Seller does not win the featured offer box, the ad is not going to run - and the Ad is not generating any impressions.

Sponsored Product Ads are special in another way too - Advertisers can only advertise their own products. Therefore, this type of campaign has no risk of attributing sales to a reseller.

How are Sponsored Brand Ads attributed?

When it comes Sponsored Brand campaigns, things look a bit different. With SB campaigns we are not advertising products, we are usually advertising a page with a collection of products. This could be either a page of the Advertisers' brand store or a page with a product collection that we specifically set up for this ad.

As we do not advertise a product only and don't generate traffic for a product detail page, we don't need to own the Buy-box / Featured Offer to run those types of Ads. However, we are still running ads for a single page and are paying for each click. 

If we are the brand owner, we usually should own the featured offer for the products. But there are many factors influencing the buy-box, such as

  • availability
  • price
  • shipping costs
  • seller account ratings
  • Vendor vs. Seller

As more SKUs we are working with, as difficult it gets to control the buybox for each of those. 

How does that affect attribution?

If we run SB campaigns and we don't have the buy-box, the sale will show up in our Advertising Console with its gross amount as a sale - while we don't receive any amount in the Seller Central for it. In this case, our reseller receives the sale.

How are Sponsored Display Ads attributed?

Classic Sponsored Display Ads that use the CPC model are like Sponsored Product Ads - We will need to own the buy-box if we want to advertise. Therefore the usual SD Ads we run, like category targeting or retargeting, are not risked by attribution to resellers.

Last year Amazon introduced another version of a pricing model for SD Ads: viewable CPM or vCPM. This type of SD campaign uses the cost-per-mille model and does not only track click conversions, but also view conversions. Therefore the attribution of those campaigns are difficult to compare with any other campaign type and the sales generated by this campaign can by far exceed the other campaigns. One of the reasons is that Amazon introduced a new targeting method, that places ads on a large pool of websites off Amazon.

But the main reason why those types are risky is that we don't need to own the buy-box for running vCPM SD Ads. If we are advertising a product and the buy-box ownership changes, we are actually paying money to show ads for a reseller - while thinking that we earn money, because sales will be shown in our Ads Console, as they are shown for SB Ads.