In early June, Amazon quietly introduced character limits for all A+ content created in Vendor Central and began requiring additional documentation for certain types of product claims.
While these changes are clearly still in testing mode, we expect character limits to become a permanent part of the Amazon A+ product page.
Why is Amazon making these changes? And what does it mean for your brand?
We’ve seen Amazon make sudden changes like this in the past that force brands to adjust their Amazon strategies. Here’s a summary of our early impressions based on more than a decade of creating Amazon product page content.
Amazon Wants A+ Content to Improve the Shopper Experience
Amazon recognizes the importance of product page content in delivering a great customer experience and ultimately increasing sales. Amazon’s “customer obsession” extends to every element of the product page, including A+ content.
In 2015, Amazon conducted a 90-day study of 134,000 products and found that A+ content increased sales between 3 and 10 percent depending on content quality, product price, and product category.
The company is constantly tinkering with the page to improve the shopper experience. Character limits in A+ content fit with a broader evolution of Amazon towards a mobile-driven, modern shopping experience compatible with voice search.
Amazon Wants to Move Brands Towards Premium A+ Content
In January of 2018, Amazon did away with slotting fees for standard A+ (also referred to as Basic A+) content. This decision to make A+ content “free” coincided with Amazon’s launch of Premium A+.
Amazon Premium A+ modules have strict character limits, so it’s no surprise that Amazon would have its standard modules follow suit. Premium modules also differ from standard modules in that they rely much more heavily on visual appeal and offers more interactive options. If you want to know more about what makes Premium A+ different from standard A+, be sure to take a look at our recent summary of the two Amazon content options.
Amazon Wants to Integrate Content with Advertising
Amazon frequently changes how its search engine interacts with product page content.
In 2017, Amazon stopped using words and phrases in the Amazon A+ description to determine the relevance of products. Despite Amazon’s decision to stop indexing A+ content, we recommended that clients still treat A+ content as an important driver of engagement, branding, and conversion.
Some brands began ignoring A+ content in favor of product titles. We believe this is a tactical mistake, as A+ content plays an important role in the “retail readiness” of the product page.
Amazon is working to more closely link all parts of the product page to Amazon Advertising (formerly known as Amazon Marketing Services). Having a product page that is “retail ready” remains a key component to running effective Amazon ad campaigns.
History Lesson: Amazon Content Always Changes
This latest change to Amazon A+ content does not come as a surprise.
Amazon has made a series of changes to its enhanced content in recent years. In 2013, it switched from HTML to self-service templates. In August of 2014, it introduced 12 mix-and-match modules and in 2015 introduced content bundling to Vendor Central.
We noticed Amazon A/B testing character limits back in the summer of 2016.
Amazon’s frequent pivots can be frustrating to brands. They always come without warning and often require content to be re-done to be compliant. In addition, every time Amazon makes a change, there are bugs. Some eventually go away. Others require permanent workarounds.
Advice: Stay Nimble
Regarding latest changes to character counts and documentation around claims, we are encouraging our clients to remember that we can make pages with shorter text that are just as effective as their current pages.
As our head designer Signe McAdams notes: “Brands need to be strategic about their use of words and images together. Overloading a page with text or pictures is not equivalent to smart content.”
We’re dedicated to using our Amazon expertise to help our clients navigate these unexpected bumps in the road with product page changes. The best way for brands to keep up with Amazon changes is to make sure that they create content that provides the best possible shopper experience.
Editor’s Note: On September 5, 2018, Amazon rebranded its advertising platform. Amazon Marketing Services changed to Amazon Advertising and Amazon Advertising Platform changed to Amazon DSP, among other changes. This blog post was changed on October 5, 2018 to reflect those changes.