We’ve seen them repeatedly in the Amazon world. Certified organic, lifetime warranty and best new seller badges abound with the intention of grabbing the attention of browsing potential customers. While this is a violation of the exact terms, using seals and badges in main images is often looked at as a minor infraction at worst.
Another infraction is the inclusion of items NOT actually for sale in the offer. Such as the apple with an apple slicer, or the smoothie in the blender. Also, many people use models in their photographs, which is totally acceptable, but NOT in the main image. We have even seen sellers outright violate the number one main image rule; to put the image on a white background.
So the question is, do these tactics result in anything more than a stern slap on the wrist from Amazon if caught? Do they actually help get you ahead of the pack with listing interaction that will ideally lead to increased sales and ranking?
What the Data Says
We scoured 2,099 listings using the top ten results of 210 keyword phrases. And despite many of these somewhat messy looking strategies appearing to be rampant in every category, we found that Amazon has done a great job at cleaning things up and eliminating almost all of the “noise.”
Only 3.8% of the listings in our sample (81 out of the 2,099) didn’t have a white background. This is not surprising as we know from experience that this is the most serious and punishable violation of listing image policy.
A little more than that, 4.2% to be exact, employed seals or badges. This was a bit of a shock as these elements used to be almost standard practice in the supplement and beauty niches. While our study spanned many more categories and did not focus on consumables alone, it is likely that Amazon has also made a concerted effort to clean those up as well.
We saw a slightly larger percentage at 5.1% with models in the main image. This included any part of a model, whether it be their face or just their hands, legs, hips, etc. Amazon clearly states that the main image is only to have the actual product in it.
The most widespread use of any tactic to draw attention was the use of items that were not part of the offer. For example, most towel rack listings depicted towels, even though they were not part of what was for sale. Watermelon slicers also included many watermelons, and spiralizers almost all had vegetables in their main images. These main images comprised 12% of the total, with 253 of the 2,099 listings.
So What DOES Work?
I hate to sound cliché, but what works is good photography. And it appears the data supports that. Notice that the most widely used “technically-against-TOS-tactic” is the use of other props or items to support the image? That is called a “staged shot.” It is a very useful tool in catalog photography and the fact that so many of these types of shots can be found on high-ranking listings shows that quality photo enhancements do appear to get people’s attention.
What’s even better is this data also seems to show there is much room still to stand out. For instance, every niche will be different in terms of what people expect to see. All high ranking iPhone case listings depict an iPhone, for example. Almost all high ranking baby slings depict both a mother and a baby (this appears to be totally acceptable by Amazon too). However, hardly any high ranking swaddle blanket listings use baby models. If I am aware that Amazon doesn’t appear to have a problem with the main image being used to depict function for a category of product, and there is a section of that category not utilizing this in their imagery, I see an opportunity.
Now, this doesn’t mean it will always work. Sometimes things aren’t used in the imagery for a reason. However, sometimes it is just a situation where the opportunity is waiting for someone bold enough to try it out.
So, look around your niche (not just at your product type but for the whole category) and see where people are being innovative with their images. Is it in sleek packaging being included in the main image? Is it with models? Is it with food or props? Take note of what catches YOUR eye, and consider testing it in your listing main image.