Does advertising on Amazon seem confusing?
Well it is, sort of.
Not only are there two totally different systems from which businesses on the marketplace can access advertising but once you’re inside, it’s a jungle.
Let’s start with something really basic. Most product based businesses access Amazon’s advertising through two main platforms: Seller Central and Vendor Central.
These are often referred to as 3P and 1P, respectively.
Vendor Central is still invite only so Seller Central has lot’s of advantages, namely access.
We could get into the minutiae surrounding the differences between VC and SC but majority of the callouts here apply to both.
Quick note; the platform you advertise with on Vendor Central is actually called Amazon Marketing Services or AMS. This is a separate site where you access all of the ad products Amazon has to offer.
Advertising Is Not Marketing
The difference here is analytical comprehension vs. visual representation.
Your product listing is your marketing.
Before you ever begin advertising, get your listing in order.
That means you’ve got a solid title, strong and informative bullet points, powerful search terms, and a well written description.
If you don’t have those in order, stop reading now. What’s beyond here won’t help you much.
Tangential Wisdom On Success On Amazon
When it comes to advertising on Amazon I get the impression that a lot of businesses believe they need to reinvent the wheel here.
The reality is you don’t.
This subject perturbs me to no end and here’s why.
There are numerous gurus out there selling you the greatest new method to ignite your business and start making 7 figures in 6 months.
I’m going to let you in on a secret that you probably already knew: there is no single strategy to get rich quick on Amazon.
I challenge anyone to prove me wrong with real hard data.
There is a reason why said gurus don’t publish data on the people that take their classes. It would be abismal.
And it’s only partly because their desire to get-rich-quick means they have to scale and sell a one-size-fits-all approach, which isn’t effective.
Programs that are guaranteed to make you successful don’t work for one main reason; there are too many variables.
Skill set, willingness to fail, willingness to learn, drive, stamina, product selection, sourcing, experience, knowledge, customer awareness and a whole other gambit of factors are at play.
If someone is selling you on their course, just say no.
Disclaimer: there are quality people out there giving quality advice.
Manny Coats is an example of someone who is out there in the trenches making his store successful and he is literally giving away some of his knowledge.
A Practical Approach To Advertising
Back to advertising.
There are several different methodologies floating around on the best way to setup advertising campaigns.
When it comes to difficult products and a large number of SKUs, the possibilities are almost endless.
Majority of you have a few products, possibly up to 100, some being variations and you’re starting from scratch or have seen lackluster results so far.
Heck, you could even be a Vendor that’s never touched AMS because you weren’t sure where to start.
This is for you.
There are several different ad products available:
- Sponsored Products, these are showing your listings as ads based on keywords
- Headline Search Ads, you get to create a visual directly below the search field
- Store Pages, you create an in-store environment for customers, found by HSAs
The easiest to execute for now are Sponsored Product ads. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see detailed information on HSAs and Store Pages.
With SP, you’ve got two tools at your disposal; Auto and Manual campaigns.
Let’s dig in.
Meet Automatic Campaigns
Automatic campaigns are easy to setup because Amazon determines the searches your product is relevant for, based on your content.
This is why if your listing isn’t on point, you should have stopped reading earlier Gerald.
You also have the added advantage of being able to advertise on other people’s product detail pages, which you can’t do in manual campaigns.
Auto campaigns are tricky because you have limited control over keywords and bidding. That’s all done on an ad group level and not the keyword level.
Advertising setup looks like this; Campaign > Ad Group > Product Listing/Keywords.
Campaigns are the umbrella for the group. You control spend at this level and typically these are segmented for different products.
Ad groups have the actual products you’re advertising, as well as the keywords you’re targeting. In the case of Auto campaigns, Amazon controls the keywords.
In order to see these keywords you have to pull search terms reports. It’s another post.
But that information is super useful. It’s real hard data.
Watch out for searches that spend a lot and don’t garner sales. Add these as negative keywords.
Suffice it to say, Amazon does the heavy lifting here and it can greatly benefit you.
Manual Campaigns; Risk Brings Opportunity
You are in the driver’s seat with manual campaigns and that can either help or hinder you.
It all depends upon you.
You have more control over keywords, their relevance, and keyword bids.
With more freedom comes more responsibility. If you pick bad keywords to target, it’s all on you.
You don’t just get to pick your keywords, you determine something called match type. Match type tells Amazon, “here’s how closely you should match my keywords to what customers are searching.”
You’ve got Broad, Phrase, and Exact.
By default, all Auto campaigns are broad. With Manual campaigns, you determine that.
The more exact you get, the more targeted the buyer.
For example, if you choose a keyword like “oven” and set it to broad match, people who search “oven mitts” may also be shown the ad for your revolutionary new oven cleaner.
See what I mean?
If they click on your ad and don’t buy, it’s hurts you.
But you’re going to have to buy some data in order to see what works and what doesn’t. So if someone doesn’t buy on a keyword, you will have search data that you can utilize for further advertising optimization.
A good rule of thumb is to start broad and work your way towards exact.
Broad match helps discover all relevant searches for your keywords and over time, you get more user data that shows what customers are actually searching for on Amazon.
You may find that long tail keywords with exact match get the job done very efficiently.
You won’t really know what the long tail keywords are until you do one of three things:
- Advertise with broad keywords
- Utilize the copious amounts of research tools available today
- Make your best guesses based on previous product research
Alone, all of these approaches work but you’ll get further faster if you use a mixture of the three.
Just like in Auto campaigns, ad groups in Manual campaigns will contain the ad you’re showing as well as the keywords you are targeting.
My recommendation is to put all similar match type keywords into their respective ad groups. It doesn’t change how Amazon uses those keywords but it makes for a much easier time when it comes to optimization.
To be clear, optimization merely means looking at your campaign data and making adjustments based on what you see.
You typically can do one of four things when optimizing:
- Add a new keyword
- Adjust your keyword bid
- Add a negative keyword
- Pause a keyword or ad
For example, if you spend $30 on a keyword for a $50 product and make zero sales on it, it might be time to either lower your maximum bid, pause the keyword or add it as a negative keyword.
If one ad does better than another with the same keyword, you may want to pause the ad that saw less of a return or was over budget.
Now you’re getting it.
A Mixture Of Art And Science
We could really get into the weeds on advertising strategies.
I’ll spare you that. I can’t imagine it’s that fun to read about unless you truly enjoy getting geeked out on this subject.
Here’s what I will tell you; learning occurs through experience.
The reason people hire me to advertise for them is because I have experience advertising.
Could they learn to do it themselves?
The honest answer is more than likely yes.
How long would it take for someone to have a solid grasp of advertising on Amazon?
That’s where things start to get hairy.
If you’ve only ever advertised in one product category, you may run into a problem you’ve never seen before when advertising in a new product category.
One of the things experience brings to the table is insight into how various types of campaigns perform across different seasons, varying product categories, and extended periods of time.
That can’t be learned overnight.
The other factor which makes experience important is speed.
If you want to grow your business and scale up quickly, you need experience.
Here is an example that is applicable to everyone. When tax season comes around I can do one of three things:
- Learn everything I can about taxes in a few short weeks and file myself
- Wing it
- Hire a professional
I wouldn’t suggest option two, unless you’re okay with some jail time and shelling out even more cash to the government.
When it comes to a topic I have some knowledge around, I want to bring in an expert because some knowledge may be more dangerous than no knowledge.
If I fool myself into thinking I’ve got it covered, my lack of experience could come back to bite me in the ass.
I don’t like being bitten in the ass.
Keep Learning To A Maximum
Soak up as much information as you can find on the internet.
There are so many more resources available today than when I began selling and you need to take advantage of that.
The best part about these resources is they’re free.
Just take advice with a grain of salt.
Also, beware of the Amazon guru who tells you they have a surefire way to make millions on Amazon in just a few short months.
And guess who is on the outs if the surefire plan doesn’t work.
However, when things get really difficult and you aren’t sure what to do, ask for help.
It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of wisdom.
I’ve often been hired by successful business owners who just need insight on taking their business to the next level.
If you know that something isn’t in your wheelhouse, say creating solid content for a product listing that will index for high quality and relevant keywords, hire someone to do that for you.
If you aren’t willing to spend money to make your business succeed, take inventory of your business goals.
Remember, you’re investing in the future success of your products.