Amazon isn’t just the biggest online retailer in the world, a hotbed of innovation, and one of the most influential brands throughout a variety of fields. It’s also a sorely-underrated search engine. Google may be the top dog for regular searches, but Amazon’s internal search achieves huge numbers of actionable ecommerce queries.
Amazon Advertising allows you to take advantage of that immense influence by getting your products in front of people ready and willing to buy. You can even use it if you’re not an Amazon seller, though you’re going to get far more out of it if you do have your products available directly through Amazon’s storefront.
But how do you approach an Amazon Advertising campaign? How can you make the most of the opportunity afforded to you? Let’s go through how you can nail your Amazon Advertising strategy and get the best possible return on your investment.
Learn about the ad types
As seen in the featured image, Amazon has three primary ad types:
- Sponsored ads. These ads account for most of Amazon’s advertising revenue. A sponsored ad features a product or a brand, and will appear across Amazon pages in a manner integrated with the content. There are three kinds of sponsored ad:
- Sponsored product. This variety will highlight a single product in search results and on product pages. You can set keywords or have them selected for you.
- Sponsored brand. This variety will highlight a selection of products in a range and will appear in search results. You can set a custom title.
- Product display ad. This variety is unique in that you don’t get to choose keywords — Amazon will decide when and where to place it.
- Display ads. These ads can appear in dedicated ad slots on Amazon pages (though made to be clearly distinct) or on other pages in Amazon’s network (on sites owned by Amazon, sites running on Amazon’s hosting platform, or in Amazon’s software).
- Video ads. These ads can appear as distinct ads in certain positions on Amazon pages, or in Amazon software.
Amazon DSP is a programmatic system for setting the parameters for the display of your ads. Through it, you can finely hone your targeting, something particularly useful for video ads.
As you’d expect, you can choose all of these ad types, or two, or just one — but you should be aware that only sponsored ads are pay-per-click. Both display ads and video ads are impression-based, meaning you pay regardless of whether they attract clicks, and have $35k budget minimums in the US.
Consequently, you need to think very carefully about whether it’s worth pursuing display ads or video ads for your campaign. If you don’t have $35k to put into advertising, or you’re simply unwilling to commit so much upfront, then you’ll need to stick with sponsored ads.
If you’re extremely confident about your product and the creativity of your ad designs, though, by all means proceed with your advertising. Just be careful not to let that money go to waste.
Review the competition
PPC advertising (well, online advertising in general) doesn’t function in a vacuum. You’re battling with other sellers to get your ads seen first, so everything you do is of relative quality. A level of design polish sufficient for one industry might be woefully inadequate for another. To figure out what you need to aim for, do some research in your niche.
This part isn’t very complex. Just browse Amazon looking for comparable products and carrying out relevant searches, seeing what ads come up in the results. How do they look? What brands are getting involved? What products are you going to be competing with?
Bear in mind that Amazon buyers are generally going to put a lot of emphasis on social proof, which calls for looking at several products to compare them. You might be able to outbid someone for the top ad spot, but the prospective buyer might well end up looking at their product as well, and if your reviews aren’t up to scratch, all your efforts will have been in vain.
To sum this up, if your product isn’t great, don’t bother advertising it at all. You’d only end up wasting your money. If you can’t offer anything to compete with others in your industry, consider changing industry! If you can, think carefully about how you can position your products through images and text to highlight their strengths and boost their appeal.
Know the features of every great ad
I can’t get too deep into what you should include in your ads without knowing about your specific products, but there are certain things true of all good Amazon ads — let’s run through them:
- Great copy. Through Amazon, all products are presented mostly That gives products from all sellers chances to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps the best way to do this is with compelling product descriptions. Use bullet-pointed lists, bold highlights, and cover relevant features.
- Strong visuals. Glossy photos are a must for Amazon ads. You should have high-quality product photos to use already — if you don’t, then take some ASAP. Again, think about the context of other products in your niche, and find a style that will stand out from theirs.
- Ad/target match. If you choose to direct someone who clicks on one of your ads to a customized landing page, make sure that the two match. If you base the ad copy on a singular feature, highlight it on the landing page as well to confirm for the clicker that they’re in the right place.
- Smart keywords. This is about more than doing research and figuring out which terms people are searching for — it’s also about identifying common mix-ups and using negative keywords. While the CPC model ensures that you don’t pay if the shopper doesn’t click, the shopper might click (assuming that it must be relevant) only to realise that it’s unsuitable for their needs and back out, wasting your money and sullying your brand in their eyes.
Look very closely at Amazon’s autocomplete suggestions as well as its countless categories. By seeing how all the different areas of the site connect, you can start to see the associations between products, and learn how best to position your products to piggyback off the success of complementary items and expand your customer base.
Additionally (though it’s less conventional), you can glean some handy general information from successful ecommerce sellers. Reach out to owners of businesses for sale though Exchange and ask them how they managed their PPC campaigns — since they’re selling their businesses, they likely won’t have any issues with disclosing the details. Take any tips they give you and use them when you compose your Amazon ads. You can also spy on their strategies using PPC tracking tools if outreach isn’t your thing — high-growth ecommerce stores are often PPC pros.
Scale your target Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS) as needed
Amazon’s key metric for advertisers is Advertising Cost of Sales, which tells you how much you’re spending on ads relative to the revenue you’re receiving through them. At first thought, you might be convinced that there’s little to do with this metric — you just do everything you can to get it as low as possible. But that isn’t true in every case.
For instance, suppose that you’re just starting out as a seller and you have zero brand recognition, but you’re utterly sure that you’re going to find a receptive customer base soon enough. In such a case, you wouldn’t want to limit your ACoS very harshly because it would severely hamper your growth efforts.
Progress would chug along. Until you made a sale to bring in some profit, Amazon’s system would barely have any money to bid on placements, so the word would get out at a glacial pace (if at all).
Instead, you would want to allow a very high ACoS so your ads could start laying the groundwork for your brand. It would cost you a lot of money to begin with, but over time it would start to pay off — and at that point you could start lowering the ACoS to reflect the increased popularity of your products.
You can tweak your ACoS along with your other campaign parameters through the ManageByStats Amazon Advertising Manager without needing to go directly into Amazon’s systems, so if you’re having issues parsing all the data, give it a try.
Even if you get all of the basics right when you launch an Amazon advertising campaign, you won’t be able to sit back and relax, because tastes and standards change rapidly. Current trends fall out of fashion and new ones appear to take their places. New terms enter public awareness. The way you describe a product today might barely resemble how you would have described it a year ago.
That means that you need to stay on top of your campaign and continue making tweaks to keep it running well. If something isn’t working, change it. When something is working, ramp it up as appropriate. The great thing about Amazon advertising is that it feeds into your organic results as well, so it’s effectively hybrid PPC and SEO. Do good work, and you can turn an unknown brand into an Amazon powerhouse.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert for Ecommerce Tips. He spends way too much time (and money) on Amazon. Visit the blog, and check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.