Sponsored Products: Set up your Amazon campaigns for success in 3 steps

You are a vendor or a seller advertising on Amazon? Then there’s a good chance that you’re thinking about putting more horses on advertising in 2019. According to a recent survey by Marketing Land, a whopping 80% of Amazon advertisers plan to increase spending. Making sure that all that advertising money is going to the right products, requires a well thought-out Sponsored Products campaign setup, however. Today, we’ll show you what it takes to create a winning Amazon campaign in 3 steps.

New to Amazon Advertising? Learn everything you need to know about Amazon Ads and why advertising works so well on Amazon in our blogpost.

 

Sponsored Products campaign setup: manual vs. auto

STEP 1: STRATEGY

The first decision you’ll always have to make is figuring out what you’re trying to achieve with your Amazon campaigns: Is it more visibility for your brand? For a new product? Or do you want to increase your campaign’s overall efficiency and sell more products? Decide on a strategy and optimize your campaigns towards it.

Amazon PPC Campaign Setup - Strategy first

Before we dive into performance optimization, let’s take a close look at WHAT EXACTLY we’ll be optimizing. There are two Sponsored Products campaign types available: manual and auto-campaigns. Both Amazon campaign types definitively have their merits and serve a specific purpose in our strategy. To understand their respective roles, let’s have a quick look at how they differ:

Automatic campaigns

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  • Easy to handle: Automated Amazon campaigns are great if you just got started with Amazon Advertising. You’ll need to set only one maxCPC bid, as all of your products are advertised under the same bid. You’ll have 1 campaign, 1 ad group and 1 bid for all search queries that are relevant to your product.

  • Auto-targeting: Amazon targets all relevant search queries automatically, based on your product description. Meaning: you don’t have to compile a keyword list yourself. If you’re an Amazon Seller, you have the privilege to add negative keywords.

  • Appear on other product detail pages: Your ad placements include the product detail pages of others. New in 2019: while this feature used to be exclusive to automatic campaigns, you can now opt-in to have your manual campaign’s ads appear on product detail pages, as well.

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  • The fatal flaw of this Amazon campaign type: There is only one maxCPC bid, regardless of how likely your ad is to convert/be successful for a given search query. You pay the same amount for any click on any keyword, high-converting or low-converting.

  • Targeting: With the help of negative keywords, you do get a final say in the product search queries your ads are shown for as a Seller on Amazon. In this regard, automatic Sponsored Products campaigns are similar to Google Shopping campaigns. (Google Shopping has brought about some elaborate search query sculpting techniques in connection with campaign priorities and negative keywords, attempting to create an indirect targeting setup.)

New in 2019: Until recently, Sponsored Products targeting was limited to the auto-targeting options described above, and to manual targeting using keywords. In November 2018, Amazon introduced new, automated targeting options for both automatic and manual campaigns.

  • New targeting controls for automatic campaigns: There are 2 targeting defaults that are based on your ad (“close match” and “loose match”) and 2 targeting defaults that are based on your product (“substitutes” and “complements”). You can now activate or deactivate each target default and adjust your bids for every targeting default individually.

 

Automatic targeting campaigns - new targeting defaults November 2018-1

Manual campaigns

They’ll make your inner control freak happy. Contrary to automatic campaigns, manual campaigns give you a lot of control over where your Sponsored Products ads appear. You get the opportunity to hand-select keywords and bids for every product individually.

Our tip:

→ Research and select your own keywords that are both, highly relevant to your product and reliably sell your products. Use keyword match types to further shape the search traffic you get on your ads.

The downside: you’ll have to do the targeting yourself. While you have much more power over your ads this way, you also have so much more manual work ahead of you.

However, the new product and category based targeting options can save you a lot of the tedious work. In addition to targeting keywords, you can now also target products that are similar to yours.

  • Target single ASINs

  • Target product categories

  • Target both, ASINs and categories within the same ad group

  • Refine your selection by brand, star reviews and/or price

Targeting options for manual Amazon campaigns with new product targeting options

 

Best Practice: Cherry-picking the best of the two Sponsored Products campaign types

You’re looking at our options and getting the feeling that a mix of both types of Sponsored Products campaigns would be best? You’re not far off. The strategy described in the following gives you the most amount of control over your ads, while helping you to catch every search query your product might be relevant to. Auto-campaigns cover an extremely broad range of search terms. Depending on your product or category targeting options for manual Sponsored Products campaigns, it is highly likely that it will catch a lot more “outside of the box” searches, such as “greek coffee” if you’re selling thermos bottles. This is extremely valuable for keyword research purposes.

The ideal Amazon campaign setup combines both auto and manual sponsored products campaigns

As automatic campaigns cover 100% of search queries, it makes a lot of sense to have the Amazon AI match your products to search queries. Let auto-campaigns work for you. You’ll be able to reap the results:

STEP 2: KEYWORD HARVESTING

Download and analyze the search term report. You a) get a comprehensive list of search terms that customers have used to find your product. Believe us, there will be lots of search queries you probably would not have thought of yourself (long-tail!). The search term report gets you b) detailed performance data for every search term, waiting for you to analyze it.

Add strong search terms that are great converters to your manual campaign, using the match types broad & exact. Add generous (high) bids to each product individually. Don’t forget to add your top SEO keywords for the given product description page. These should be the first ones to go on your keyword list.

A side note: We recommend to wait for 2-4 weeks, after you’ve started a new auto-campaign or until there’s enough performance data to make an educated decision on which keywords are a success and which are not.

STEP 3: KEYWORD EXCLUSION

Exclude the keywords you’ve just added to your manual campaign from your auto-campaign. This step is crucial to your strategy: step-by-step, you’ll exclude the most relevant search queries for your automatic campaigns, allowing you to redirect them to your manual campaigns with individual bids that you’ve customized to your products.


Should I create a manual Sponsored Products campaign for every single product?

The more you break down your products in your Amazon campaigns, the more efficiently you’ll be able to manage them afterwards. With a high number of products and frequent assortment changes, however, this requires considerable effort on your part. If you are not using a tool for automated keyword and campaign management, you should at least manage your top sellers in a combination of manual and automated campaigns.

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