‘Content is King’ is the decades-old adage, originally touted by business magnate Bill Gates, that holds true more than ever in 2021. Brands face a continuously increasing need to form authentic connections with consumers. User-generated content (UGC) has become a key component of digital marketing strategies for brands to earn consumer trust and gain awareness. UGC encompasses everything from social media images and YouTube unboxing videos to product reviews on blogs. This trend is not lost on Amazon, and the ecommerce giant has launched a slew of features over the years to expand shoppable content for customers on their site. Editorial recommendations are one of the newer programs in Amazon’s arsenal, albeit perhaps lesser known. In 2020, the editorial recommendations widget on Amazon “surfaced over 100K articles from 500 publishers to over 300MM unique customers”, according to an Amazon Advertising representative.

What is an Amazon editorial recommendation?

Amazon strives to be one of the first destinations for consumers when they start their shopping journey online by developing and integrating research and discovery tools such as editorial recommendations into their ecosystem. Editorial recommendations (ER) are articles written by independent publishers, such as Forbes, BuzzFeed, Los Angeles Times, Wirecutter, and Good Housekeeping, who are registered in the Amazon Onsite Associates program. ERs surface to customers on the first page of search results when a keyword attached to the featured products in the article is searched. These placements can feature up to four products but only three are visible in search results. If a fourth product is included, customers can toggle the arrow in the carousel to view it (see image 1).

For any given search term, there are numerous editorial recommendations from a variety of publishers curated in Amazon’s system. The algorithm serves up the ER widget in search results at random, meaning that a different recommendation may be served for a keyword each time it is searched and, sometimes, one will not appear at all. Recommendation articles are published on Amazon for several months at a time and then taken out of circulation, ensuring that content remains fresh and incentivizing creators to write new reviews. Furthermore, Amazon has their own content moderation process and not every editorial recommendation submitted from the publisher network is approved.

The screenshots below illustrate what an editorial recommendation looks like in search results and on the article page.

Image 1: ER widget in ‘mini fridge’ search results with 4 featured products
Image 2: ER widget in ‘litter box’ search results with 3 featured products
Image 3: Full ER ‘litter box’ article example
Image 4: ER widget location in ‘vacuum’ search results

What is the value of editorial recommendations?

Like an advertisement, editorial recommendations dedicate space in the Amazon ecosystem to a product. The key difference is that an ER is not a pay-per-click placement, so it is not labeled ‘sponsored’ like sponsored product or sponsored brand ad placements are nor does it appear on the sidelines of search results like DSP advertising. The organic appearance and placement of editorial recommendations may increase their appeal since they are seemingly objective endorsements from approved 3rd-party publishers.

The benefits of product features in editorial recommendations include:

  • Increased product visibility
  • More clicks and impressions
  • Increased consumer trust
  • Enhanced consumer education
  • Organic SEO improvements on & off Amazon

Each of these improvements to traffic and conversion ultimately increase an item’s sales potential.

What are the eligibility criteria for a product to be included an editorial recommendation?

  • Minimum of 100 reviews with at least a 3.8-star rating
  • $30,000 a month in sales
  • Falls within the top 20% of Best Seller Ranking for its category
  • No medical claims on its listing
  • Not religion, sex, or drug related
  • Has plenty of inventory in stock

How can brands secure a spot in editorial recommendations?

There are currently ~500 publishers enrolled in the Amazon Onsite Associates program who can recommend products in editorial recommendations. Brands may have relationships with some of these associates already or work with an agency that facilitates product pitches to publishers in Amazon’s network.

With editorial recommendations, brands now have the potential to be included in four different locations within search results: organic product listing, sponsored product ad, sponsored brand ad, and editorial recommendation. While ERs are not accessible to every seller and may not be the right strategy for a brand even if they meet the minimum criteria to be featured, they are a unique lever to consider when looking to acquire virtual real estate within the Amazon ecosystem.

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