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    Introduction to Amazon Ads Strategy

    Tim Johnson

    Amazon is a no-brainer for most E-commerce sellers. Potential customers look to Amazon more often than ever and listing your products there is a quick way to boost sales. Getting visibility for your products isn’t always easy, though. Amazon is a search engine just like Google and just like Google it helps to pay-to-play.

    Amazon Seller Central and Sponsored Products

    Amazon Sponsored Products are just what they sound like. If you’ve been on Amazon you’ve seen these all over the place. They’re very similar in concept to Google Shopping ads. They’re not text ads or banners, but rather an extension of your product listing.


    Seller Central is your Google AdWords, to keep the Google comparison going. It’s where you can create your campaigns, targeting, and everything else you might expect for an ad platform. Amazon does not have the targeting features that you might see on AdWords, though. It’s much more limited.

    There are two main strategies (or options) to consider when setting up new Amazon campaigns. Automatic targeting and Manual targeting.


    In general, automatic targeting on ad platforms is something to avoid. Why give the control to the platform when you can keep it to yourself?

    There is some benefit to auto targeting on Amazon, though. Manual targeting just means that you get to set the keywords. Automatic means that Amazon will determine when to show your ads based on your product categories.

    Tactics and strategy

    Now before I get into how I approach Amazon advertising, I want to preface it by saying there are many different ways to go about this. Also, there are different types of Amazon ads, like Vendor Express, Headline Ads, and Product Display Ads, just to name a few.

    That said, let’s focus on traditional sponsored product ads since those are the most standard and common option.

    Focus on manual targeting but don’t forget about automatic

    My strategy for Sponsored Products is fairly straightforward. Manual campaigns are the way to go….with a little help from automatic campaigns. The end goal of your campaign setup should be to have strong manual campaigns that you have full bidding control over. To get to that point, though, utilizing the larger reach of auto campaigns is a good tactic.

    I mentioned already that Amazon targeting is limited. For your manual campaigns, you really only have two targeting methods: your keywords and negative keywords. So building strong keyword lists is the key to success. Luckily, Amazon provides search term reports so finding new keywords and understanding what is working is doable.

    This is where auto campaigns come in handy. Set up an auto campaign as a “catch all” for your products. Set bids and budget fairly low and let it run for a week or two.

    Once you have a little data (clicks, at least some sales, and a hefty amount of impressions), export a search term report and take a look at what’s racking up the most impressions and sales. You should be able to find some new keywords to add to your manual campaigns as well as some new negative keywords to exclude for all campaigns.

    Keep doing this every few weeks. Your auto campaign will serve as a testing ground and your manual campaigns will grow with keywords that you know work. You can bid more aggressively on those and drive sales.

    Gauging success

    Amazon provides a few different reports. They’re not particularly accessible in the interface, though, and you’ll have to export them into Excel.

    Also, Amazon doesn’t auto generate these reports so one of the first things you should do is go into the Reports section of Seller Central and schedule all the reports to run in regular increments so you don’t lose any data.


    Final thoughts

    Amazon is great. People who go there are ready to buy. And Amazon makes it so easy for them to do just that with things like Prime and general familiarity. People trust Amazon, which allows conversion rates to be fairly high.

    But competition is high for many verticals so do your due diligence. Amazon advertising is a great option but look toward search optimization too. Remember, Amazon is a search engine and can be manipulated just like Google and Bing.

    If you need help getting started with Amazon advertising or have questions, let us know.

    Small Business PPC Services - Portent

    Tim Johnson
    SMB Solutions Lead

    Tim has been with Portent since September 2012. Currently, he manages the Small Business Solutions department at Portent. Additionally, he carries full Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Google Analytics certifications and has experience managing paid social account on a variety of platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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