Your Ultimate Guide to Advanced Amazon Advertising

Boost Visibility, Maximize Your Ad Budget

Success on Amazon depends on many factors. You need unique products, dynamic pricing, great reviews and quick fulfillment options, just to name a few.

But one of the most important factors that will determine your long-term Amazon success is simply being seen. Product visibility on Amazon is increasingly difficult, as millions of sellers battle for position on increasingly limited screen space.

Leading brands and retailers increase their visibility on Amazon with two things: great product content and advanced Amazon Advertising strategies.

Luckily, Amazon has unveiled plenty of new Amazon Advertising features recently — whether you’re a wholesaler through Vendor Central or a third-party retailer via Seller Central — to maximize your Amazon presence.

In this eBook, we’ll break down some ways to squeeze more ROI from your ad accounts and, ultimately, ensure the hordes of shoppers on Amazon actually see the products you want them to find.

Want a PDF version of this eBook? Download the Amazon Advertising eBook PDF here

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Amazon Ad Types

Chapter 2: Basic Campaign Setup

Chapter 3: Elements of a Well-Run Amazon Advertising Account

Chapter 4: Overcoming Real-Time Data Limitations

Chapter 5: Granular Strategies for Success

  • Product Targeting & Placement Bidding
  • New-to-Brand Metrics

Chapter 6: ChannelAdvisor Managed Services for Amazon Advertising

Chapter 1: Amazon Ad Types

Amazon Sponsored Products

Lately, it can seem like the entire search results page consists of Sponsored Products.

Amazon Sponsored Products is a keyword-targeted, cost-per-click program that can be used to promote individual listings. These ads appear alongside or above organic search results and are driven by search keywords you choose. Targeting with this type of accuracy gives you higher-quality clicks on your listings — since these shoppers actually searched for terms associated with your product — and will potentially yield a much higher ROI than many other cost-per-click programs.

Shoppers who click on these ads will be directed to your product detail pages.

Sponsored Brands (formerly Headline Search Ads)

If you’re a third-party retailer enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, Sponsored Brands is an impactful advertising option that will help you build brand recognition and drive more clicks. They are often found above the search results, but can also be seen in other placements on Amazon. These banner ads feature a customized design, a headline (think about your brand’s differentiating factor), your logo and a few product offerings.

Sponsored Brands can be an effective way to reach consumers who are browsing but don’t yet know what they want to buy, and thus may be using broad keywords such as “sunscreen” or “sundresses.” Like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands operate on a cost-per-click pricing model.

Product Display Ads

Product Display Ads are cost-per-click display ads that drive traffic to a product’s detail page. They utilize product or interest targeting to deliver highly relevant ads to shoppers with certain interests or shoppers who are actively viewing specific products.

You can find them on the product detail page, on the right rail of search results, at the bottom of search results, on the customer reviews page, at the top of the offer listing page and in Amazon-generated marketing emails such as follow-ups and recommendations. Product Display Ads run across desktop, mobile web and the mobile app.

Chapter 2: Basic Campaign Setup

Basic campaign setup starts with a structured account plan. It involves building clearly defined campaigns that are segmented by similar products or characteristics. So whether you’re pulling reports, organizing product content or segmenting keywords, you’ll stay organized.

Best Practice: Test Everything and Keep Learning

Once you identify which products you want to advertise, it’s time to get granular and determine which specific strategies to use. From there, the most critical thing you can do is test. Constantly. Test what works and what doesn’t work. Test the ad types, test auto vs. manual, test copy, test Store page layouts, and more.

The more you experiment with Amazon’s offerings, the better your campaigns will be in the long run.

Best Practice: Use Clear Naming

To make all that testing insightful, make sure your account structure can tell a story. Use naming conventions that make sense to you and allow you to gain quick insights without confusion. Don’t use unfocused campaign names like, for example, “Campaign 1.” Generic labeling will come back to haunt you a month later when you forget which products were even in that campaign. Instead, use very specific naming conventions like “BR_Shoes_Hiking_Sandals_Velcro,” so you know the purpose (and products) behind the ad.

Best Practice: Never Stop Optimizing

You may think your campaigns are running smoothly and your ACoS levels have, for the most part, been consistent. But there is always more to do. More ROI to squeeze out of a campaign.

The longer a campaign has been active, the more data are available to conduct new tests or make new changes. For instance:

  • Are there negative keyword opportunities that you were unaware of?
  • Did you see any holiday keyword trends that you could take advantage of next year?
  • Is there a specific ASIN in the search query report that is generating high sales that you could target?

Amazon gives advertisers a lot of information you can use to make improvements. Get creative with how you look at the data and try to find new and unique areas where you can use your competitive advantages to increase revenue.

Chapter 3: Elements of a Well-Run Amazon Advertising Account

While every business is different, well-run Amazon Advertising accounts have certain common characteristics that make them successful. Does your account have all of these elements in place?

Element 1: Clear goals

When setting up a new campaign, or even kicking off your company’s Amazon Advertising program, determine what you want to get out of it. And no, “more sales” is not a clear goal.

You must be able to articulate exactly what success means to you. Think about your goals like a New Year’s resolution: “Lose weight” is not as effective as “Lose 15 pounds by July 1.” The latter is a target you can aim for with true precision.

Obviously, each goal is dependent on your business needs, and there is no blanket target that works for every brand and retailer. However, when analyzing which goals work best, we found a few “formulas” that might help you identify some key goals:

  • We need to increase Amazon Advertising revenue by X%, by Y date, with a [daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly] budget of $Z
  • We need to increase impressions by X% year-over-year for all non-brand campaigns.
  • We need to reduce ACoS from X% to Y% by [date]. From there, we can spend Z% more each month as long as we maintain the Y% ACoS.
  • In 2019, we are launching X amount of new products. We need to separate these products from the remainder of the campaigns and devote Y% of monthly budget to new launches at an increased ACoS of Z% to drive initial sales.

As you can see, these goals are much more than just “increasing sales” or “decreasing ACoS.” They are specific to your needs and give each campaign a clearly defined role to play.

Element 2: Granular Strategies

Achieving the big goals you set for yourself requires the successful execution of many smaller strategies and managing the many moving pieces involved with Amazon Advertising.

Developing granular strategies means knowing your products and being able to recognize how they can be differentiated from those of your competitors. Here are a few questions to ask (and we’ll dive into these strategies in a later section):

  • Are some of your products high-margin? If so, you could spend a bit more to win some of your high-converting keywords.
  • Is your product reviewed really highly compared to your competition? Perhaps targeting competitor ASINs with lower reviews makes more sense than keyword bidding.
  • Launching new products in a new category? Mining keywords with auto-campaigns may be the quickest way to initiate sales.
  • Do you have a strong brand and see a number of competitors bidding on your brand terms? Try breaking out your campaigns by brand and non-brand segments, so you can track key metrics and make sure you are adequately protecting your brand. Then, create an Amazon Store that locks the customer into a curated brand experience where you can control their shopping journey more closely. Lastly, drive customers to this store with Sponsored Brands ads that use keywords related to your brand.

Element 3: Useful Reporting

What good is doing all the work if you can’t drive actionable insights? When setting up your advertising campaigns, be cognizant of your naming structures — they play a critical role in reporting.

Each campaign should be named in a way that can give you at least three major takeaways, such as:

  • Brand vs. Non-Brand (BR_)
  • Product Type (BR_Shoes)
  • Descriptor (BR_Shoes_Hiking)

When you pull reports and start your pivots, naming conventions like these give you a lot of information. For example, using the names above, you could pivot for all brand campaigns (BR_), all shoe campaigns (Shoes), all branded shoe campaigns (BR_Shoes), etc.

These names can provide quick insights into how broad categories are performing. But don’t stop at three levels: Do what makes sense for your products and get granular with your approach:

  • BR_Shoes_Hiking_Sandals
  • BR_Shoes_Hiking_Sandals_Velcro

Element 4: Utilization of All Ad Types

To cover 100% of advertising real estate on Amazon, you have to use 100% of the tools available. As we outlined earlier, vendors and sellers have slightly different ad options.

For vendors (i.e., first party), you have access to Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Product Display Ads.

For sellers (i.e., third party), you have access to Sponsored Products and, if you are a registered brand, Sponsored Brands.

Each ad type has different strategies, reports and conversion rates. Get to know them and find out what works. And also get to know the variations within each ad type. For example, auto campaigns for Sponsored Products behave differently than manual campaigns, which behave differently than ASIN and Category targeting.

Element 5: All Levers Pulled

Once you’ve started experimenting with all the Amazon ad types available to you, it’s time to start pulling all the levers Amazon provides for making the most of these campaigns. That means continuous testing and optimizing of all the various features to maximize your ROI, including:

  • Category and ASIN Refined Targeting within Sponsored Products
  • Placement Bid Adjustments
  • Dynamic Bidding
  • New Automatic Campaign Match Types
  • Automated Bidding within Sponsored Brands
  • Brand Stores

Pro Tip for Brands: Leverage the Power of the “Store”

The Stores program is Amazon’s way of giving registered brands more control on its platform. As a seller, your Store gives you the ability to curate the experience of your potential customer. It’s your opportunity to leverage the brand awareness and trust you’ve built up on Amazon.

You can create pages on your Store for a single product or multitudes of products. And just like your granular campaign structures and naming conventions, you’re able to get extremely detailed on the pages you build.

For example, if you sell tents and backpacks, you can create a page specifically for tents and then sub-pages for different varieties (two-room, extreme cold, single person, etc.). Then, you can drive traffic to these broader or specific pages through Sponsored Brands campaigns.

According to Amazon, Sponsored Brands campaigns that drove consumers to brand Stores (rather than a custom product listing page) were 22% more efficient.

Stores even have their own analytics where you can see performance data for each individual page to get a clear understanding of where your sales traffic is coming from and which pages are driving the most growth.

Chapter 4: Overcoming Amazon’s Real-Time Data Limitations

If your business sees any holiday or seasonal spikes, keeping track of your advertising in real-time may be important to you.

Unfortunately, Amazon does not make it easy to quickly analyze real-time, intraday reporting. However, there are a number of precautions you can take to prepare for high-demand days, such as Prime Day, seasonal holidays or Cyber Monday.

Portfolios

The Portfolios program launched in December of 2018, and it gives you the opportunity to group campaigns into, well, portfolios. Once grouped, you can pull metrics for that portfolio, add/remove campaigns from that portfolio and set budget caps for those campaigns.

So, to use the previous example of a retailer of tents and backpacks, let’s say you put all your “tents” in one portfolio and all your “backpacks” in another. You can now see how each subset is performing with just the click of a button.

When it comes to controlling spend, Portfolios gives you a budget cap option. Here you can specify the max amount of money you are willing to pay for a specific timeframe for that portfolio. This helps during high-traffic holidays or times when you want to spend more money over a short period of time.

If you have 10 campaigns in Portfolio 1 and set a cap for $1,000 for the month of February, that portfolio will not spend more than $1,000.

  • Pro Tip: The portfolio does not pace the budget over your date range.

Unfortunately, portfolios cannot pace that $1,000 evenly over the month. The campaigns within the portfolios will spend the $1,000 as they naturally would and would be prevented from spending any additional dollars once the cap is hit.

  • Pro Tip: Once the budget cap’s end date has passed, the campaigns in that portfolio will remain paused.

You will need to change the budget cap setting to “No budget cap” in order for your campaigns to remain active indefinitely.

Budget Notifications

During peak sales days like Prime Day, you’ll want to make sure your budgets and portfolios have enough room to adjust for the influx of impressions/clicks/spend that is bound to happen.

One way to keep an eye on your campaigns during these days is to sign up for the budget notification emails. Amazon can send these notifications when your campaigns have utilized 80% or 100% of your budget. If you notice one of your campaigns is about to run out of budget — or repeatedly runs out of budget — you may want to increase the daily budget.

Another way to access this information is through the Amazon graph on the Amazon Advertising homepage. Simply filter your account by “Almost out of budget.” Then Amazon will find all Sponsored Products campaigns that are currently out of budget or nearing their cap.

Chapter 5: Granular Strategies for Success

Once you have a solid foundation for your account, it’s time to start experimenting and testing with various bidding, reporting and targeting features.  

Product Targeting

Advertisers now have the ability to target by category and by ASINs. After you mine for ASINs using the search term report provided by Amazon, you may want to dive deeper into competitor targeting by identifying specific ASINs where you want to place ads.

Also, it’s okay to target your own ASINs. Think about which of your products may lead to a complementary sale. Targeting your own products also protects your brand from competitors and a scenario where a shopper jumps off your product detail page to their product.

Lastly, category targeting can be a great broad-stroke strategy for sellers, but it helps to get more advanced with your tactics by utilizing the refinements available. These refinements give you the ability to filter based on price range, brand, and stars.

Placement Bidding

In the old day’s of Amazon Advertising (i.e., prior to 2019), the only way to know where your Sponsored Products ad displayed was by pulling a product placement report. This report would tell you whether an ad was displayed “Top of Search” or “Other on Amazon” and its corresponding metrics (spend, sales, ACoS, etc). From there, the only thing you could really do to help increase exposure was to turn on Bid +, which would raise your bids up to 50% if Amazon’s algorithm thought you had a good chance of winning the auction with a higher bid.

Within Sponsored Products campaigns, Amazon’s platform now has a “Placements” tab. Within That tab, Amazon gives you placement data, as well as an additional placement: Product Pages.

From that section, you can see all your favorite metrics for each placement and make bid adjustments. These bid adjustments take the place of Bid+ but are available for all Sponsored Product campaigns, not just manual campaigns.

New-to-Brand Metrics

Wish you had an easy way to determine what percentage of your Amazon Advertising campaigns are driving brand new customers, as opposed to repeat customers? Well, now it’s easy to find out.

Amazon now has seven new-to-brand metrics that allow advertisers to measure orders and sales of products generated from “first-time” customers on Amazon. The new-to-brand metrics all provide insight into new customer acquisition and/or brand loyalty and can help brands and retailers shape their Amazon Advertising strategy.

As you can imagine, knowing what percentage of sales for branded campaigns are actually coming from returning customers will influence your ad investment. On the flip side, if you know the lifetime value of a customer, you may be willing to invest a bit more into strategies and campaigns that are driving new-customer acquisition.

ChannelAdvisor Managed Services for Amazon Advertising

People are the heart of ChannelAdvisor.

ChannelAdvisor Managed Services for Amazon Advertising helps brands and retailers win on Amazon by combining a team of Amazon experts with industry leading proprietary technology.

Proven Technology

  • Deep integrations to Amazon’s API for content and advertising
  • Ongoing R&D investment
  • More than a decade working with Amazon
  • Agile development approach drives continuous innovation

Experienced People

  • Amazon focused experts on advertising  and selling best practices across both 1P and 3P
  • Trusted expertise
  • On-going training
  • Depth – 700+ employees globally

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