Amazon’s Marketing platform has grown in importance over the last few years – and can be one of the very best tools for ensuring your products are seen by the right customers, enabling more consistent sales and boosting your company’s profile. Research indicates customers are increasingly skipping search engines and heading directly to Amazon when hunting down the latest finds, so ensuring your ads are well structured and optimised for buyers is essential. However, getting to grips with the fundamentals of the Amazon Marketing service can be more than a little tricky for the uninitiated. Here’s our guide to making the very most of your Sponsored Ads!
Understanding Sponsored Ads
Effective online advertising is all about knowing where your customers are looking. Whilst there’s still a great deal to be said for the accepted routes of Google and social media ads, this is by no means the full story of the online ad market. Amazon is emerging as a real competitor offering some impressive opportunities for advertisers – and at a significantly preferable price-point to many other ad platforms. For advertisers willing to learn how to use the service, there’s much to recommend – with benefits for e-commerce companies and those who are not seeing a significant return on their existing online advertising strategy, or simply want to give a new method a spin.
Whereas Google AdWords is a well-established platform, Amazon is just starting out – and this means a chance to engage with the advertising options early before saturation and competition pushes up prices for PPC.
Whilst Amazon has many advertising programs, the most well-established is Amazon Sponsored Products, which is most like the display adverts which can be found in Google AdWords. Sponsored Products is a PPC (pay per click) platform. The distinguishing characteristic of Sponsored Products is how well they incorporate into Amazon’s e-commerce platform as a whole – appearing alongside searched products in correspondence with a selected search term.
The only way to distinguish a sponsored product from a non-sponsored product is the grey ‘Sponsored’ tag which appears above each sponsored ad. In addition, sponsored products often appear higher than other search results.
Getting to grips with Amazon Sponsored Products is much akin to advertising via Google AdWords, requiring you to:
• Select keywords for your ad
• Pay for the clicks your ad receives
• Choose a landing page for your ad (normally the product details page)
A major draw for Amazon Sponsored Products users is the scope for success. It is here that the buyers journey must be considered – and understanding where your prospect is on this path is key to creating more impactful and effective ads which generate not only clicks, but sales. Whilst a Google search is most closely associated with browsing for products and solutions, heading to Amazon is a clearer statement of purchase intent.
Sponsored Products Ads can appear in categories ranging from appliances right through to pet supplies, musical instruments and fine art – offering you plenty of options for getting your products seen. Depending on your individual goals, Sponsored Products could prove useful to help launch a new product you’re excited about – or boost the profile of an item which is particularly in demand.
In addition to choosing which products to feature, Sponsored Products requires sellers to establish their overall spend and the time period for which they want to advertise. Ads are displayed on desktop, laptop and mobile browsers, ensuring complete flexibility for all Amazon audiences.
Sponsored Products Fundamentals
There are a few basic requirements before you can get started with Amazon’s Sponsored Products. The Amazon Marketplace has guidance for new users through the process of setting up their first ad, and this will be of particular value to complete beginners to PPC advertising. To use Sponsored Products, you’ll need to be a registered seller and log-in to Seller Central. From there, head to the Campaign Manager tab and create a campaign.
You will then be prompted to name your campaign and select your targeting methodology.
To advertise with Sponsored Products, your products must be eligible for the Buy Box. For those not yet using Amazon’s Marketplace, the buy box is simply the white box on a product detail page which allows customers to add items to their shopping cart. Not all sellers are eligible for this detail, and it is ‘won’ only through obtaining superb seller metrics due to its persuasiveness as a selling tool, particularly in the case of mobile browsers. To sell via Sponsored Products you must, therefore, be adhering to the fundamental criteria:
• Operate a professional Amazon Professional Seller account
• Sell new items (used items are not eligible for the Buy Box)
• Be Buy Box eligible
Choosing the Right Keywords and Targeting
Amazon Marketplace offers two methods for building and managing campaigns; automatic targeting, and manual targeting. Whilst automatic targeting allows Amazon to target adverts to all customer searches (dependent on relevance and product information), manual targeting requires sellers to decide which keyword options they would like to use. This provides a higher level of control for the seller. Beginners should stick with automatic campaigns until understanding more about campaign targeting, but for true optimisation once better informed, the added flexibility of manual targeting is preferable.
Due to the higher likelihood of Amazon browsers to make purchase decisions, keyword selection is an important part of any PPC strategy which can have a truly make-or-break effect on sales. There are a few key factors to consider when deciding which keywords to select, requiring sellers to carefully analyse their search term data reports and make more informed decisions about which keywords are the most valuable. This will also allow sellers to decide which products and keywords require higher or lower bids.
To optimise the keyword selection process, sellers should refer to the Search Terms Report for Sponsored Products, which can be found in Seller Central. This is a fantastic tool for keyword harvesting, and bidding on the correct keywords will ultimately help improve organic listings as much as any PPC strategy in place – and help users to keep a close eye on their ACOS (advertising cost of sales).
Building a Manual Campaign
After getting more knowledgeable about Amazon’s Sponsored Products, you will be ready to build your own manual campaign, adding greater value to your keywords. Recent changes to the Amazon Marketplace platform have removed the exact SKU associated with each search term, which could prove problematic for advertisers selling products with similar names or keyword choices or those dealing with vast numbers of products. There are however ways of improving your campaign and boosting the clarity of your campaign data:
• Use one SKU per ad-group to increase the granular-level clarity of any necessary bid or keyword adjustments
• Interrogate the metrics in your Search Terms Report for continual improvement
• Understand keyword matching – broad, phrase and exact
Like other PPC platforms, Amazon states that broad match keywords provide the most traffic, whilst phrase and exact match restrict this exposure to a specific audience.
Creating a Bidding Strategy
Closely monitor your advertising cost of sale, to check which keywords are generating clicks but not translating into sales. Benchmarking is very important – and much of how you define value comes down to your goals and budgetary restraints. Reference your average CPC (cost per click) for each keyword, and assess which keywords need bids lowered or raised. Understand that selecting keywords is a continual process. Continuously check your reports to see what needs adjustment and update and assess what’s working and what isn’t. There are many factors which can influence the success or failure of your existing keyword strategy, including everything from the time of year to trends in the market. Over time, and with enough reports to refer to, you’ll be able to discover any such trends and prepare accordingly.
It is also worth noting that even highly relevant keywords may not generate the impressions you expect. As vitally important as understanding which keywords work, is understanding which are negative. Identifying negative keywords permits some essential housekeeping and helps you generate a bigger impact.
Optimising your Sponsored Products Ads
Low click-through rates (less than 0.2%) suggest your product is not attracting sufficient interest. There are many reasons why this could be the case, but it is worth examining your use of photography. Selling online is an inherently visual process, and as your ads are displayed alongside regular Amazon listings, the chances are your imagery simply wasn’t as appealing as that of a competitor. Choose clear, attractive images for the main image, and ensure your choice of ad title is accurate and descriptive to help draw in prospects.
When getting started with Amazon Sponsored Ads, remember to:
• Choose appropriate and attractive imagery
• Use automatic campaigns until you understand how to choose the right keywords
• Bid on high-performance keywords and benchmark against competitors
• Refine and adapt your campaign as necessary
Understand that timing and monitoring are everything in a PPC campaign, and your efforts with Amazon Sponsored Products will evolve alongside your knowledge of using the platform, ensuring ever greater levels of success.