Why It’s So Hard for Brands to Get Noticed on Amazon

Study shows how shoppers search

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Brands have a love-hate relationship with Amazon. But exclusive new research shows that even marketers that embrace the site face an uphill battle in grabbing shoppers' attention. New York-based Millward Brown looked at how likely customers are to see products beyond the first page of search results on Amazon. During September, 75 million consumers searched for something at the online retailer, but only 30 percent clicked past the first page of search results.

That's at least more than the 20 percent of shoppers who said they would consider looking at the second page of search results. Only 12.6 percent of shoppers said that they would look at the third page of results, and less than 10 percent said they would go past the fourth page to find what they were looking for.

"When consumers do search, they're really not in it to browse endlessly through results. They're likely to click on what they see, and if they don't see your brand there, good luck," said Matt Pace, vp of financial services, retail and CPG at Millward Brown Digital.

Brands have little control over how they pop up on Amazon since the company keeps its secret search algorithm under wraps. 

Even if a brand does make it to the first page of search results, there is still no guarantee that a shopper will click through. Millward Brown found that 35 percent of consumers click on the first product featured on a search page. Seventeen percent pick the second item. Overall, shoppers are 10 times more likely to click on results in a page's No. 1 spot than items in the No. 10 position.

Amazon generated 22 percent of online visits in September, up from 19 percent in 2013. To compare, eBay, Walmart, Target and Etsy collectively brought in 28 percent of e-commerce traffic. The average online shopper goes to Amazon 2.8 times per month to search for products.

Mobile-Driven Retail

Additional recent research from Millward Brown breaks down Amazon's mobile and desktop traffic. Not surprisingly, the findings highlight how brands increasingly need to tweak their search strategies on Amazon for smartphones and tablets.

From January to June of this year, 61 percent of survey participants said they went to Amazon from their desktops while 32 percent accessed it from smartphones or tablets. Of that mobile traffic, 63 percent comes from Amazon's mobile site, and 37 percent comes from its app.

While showrooming likely gives Amazon a mobile boost, Pace said the company's value goes beyond customers looking for cheaper prices.

"When you compare desktop to mobile, Amazon really is that place where people go," Pace said. "We can argue largely for price comparison, but its share of consideration is even heightened on mobile devices."

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.