Accelerating Your Amazon Rank With External Traffic

Advertising can be utilized to help drive sales and ranking while providing you with incredibly valuable data regarding how your product interacts with the market. By taking the time to test and fully understand the abilities of the Amazon advertising platform, you can begin to build out more complex strategies to truly accelerate growth in a competitive landscape.

That said, while advertising can be an incredibly effective way to drive ranking and increase sales, there are instances where you may need an additional push to truly dominate your market. In these instances, external traffic can be implemented to aggressively drive a product to page one for a high value keyword.

While your product can be relevant for (and drive sales through) dozens of keywords, in most markets, one to five keywords are going to provide the majority of the audience market-share. Therefore, having favorable organic ranking for these terms is crucial for maximizing the sales potential of your product.

There are different methods and strategies when using external traffic and it’s important to know that while incredibly useful, these tactics can be costly and certain applications can be a violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service. Much of the language in their Terms of Service is vague and up for debate but ultimately, anything that improperly accesses or uses data from shoppers, routes traffic away from Amazon, or seeks to artificially inflate reviews will be seen as a violation.

Another thing to note is that Amazon’s SEO tends to work in equilibrium. The products on page one are there because they sell best. While driving ranking through PPC provides your product with opportunities to organically sell better and more naturally progress it to a competitive level within the market, using aggressive external traffic to drive ranking ultimately forces the product to page one through a manufactured demand. While this can be effective in pushing the product to the first page, if the listing is not competitively positioned (with an adequate number of reviews, attractive price, etc.) it is likely that it will not continue to organically sell the same volume of units as the naturally ranking competitors. In this instance, ranking can decline when the manufactured traffic from your external campaign is cut off. Thus, an external campaign can be a bit of a gamble as you’re pushing a product’s ranking to page one and relying on the increased visibility to lead to organic sales growth, which will in turn help the listing to retain ranking.

While there are several different methods for setting up external campaigns, this article will cover the basics of the two most common tactics.

Promotional Launches

Sometimes referred to as a giveaway, a promotional launch involves the use of a service such as Viral Launch’s Launch Platform in order to drive ranking for a high value keyword. Essentially, you select a keyword to target, determine how many sales need to be funneled through that keyword over a period of time, and provide that number of products at a deep discount (typically through one time use promotional discount codes) to an audience of shoppers. It is also crucial that you connect the offer with a URL that is tied to your targeted keyword so that as shoppers navigate to Amazon to purchase your product, the traffic is directed through the proper search term.

By doing this, Amazon sees your product generate a large flow of sales through a specific keyword.  In time (anywhere from 3-14 days), Amazon begins to recognize your product to be more relevant for that keyword than the current page one competition, and your listing’s ranking begins to improve. Ideally, once the promotion ends, your listing has favorable ranking and is able to generate enough organic sales to help the product ‘stick’ on page one. Because you can’t control Amazon or organic market fluctuations, there is no guarantee that a specific ranking will be obtained, however at Viral Launch, we regularly review data to ensure that launches are effective at driving organic ranking.

While there are different ways to execute on this strategy, they will all involve a keyword target, a necessary sales volume to drive ranking, a URL to funnel the traffic to your target keyword, a discounted offering to persuade buyers, and a group of shoppers to market your offer to. Without each of these elements, it will be unlikely that your campaign will succeed.

  • Keyword Target – The search term that you wish to drive ranking for. You can typically target any keyword that your listing is indexed for. That said, considering that this tactic typically involves selling products at a price below break even, it’s advantageous to target keywords that have a high search volume, thus enabling an organic sales potential to make the campaign profitable.
  • Sales Volume – In order to effectively drive ranking for a keyword, you need to use the promotion to outsell the current page one competition for a number of days. It’s important to understand how many sales are being accumulated by your targeted competition and outpace that in order to effectively overtake their ranking.
  • Targeted URL –  While generally selling more units will provide some positive movement for your product, aggressive ranking improvement is largely contingent on sales being driven through a specific keyword. When running an external promotion, it’s important to direct your traffic in a way that drives traction for your targeted keywords. This can be achieved by providing buyers with a targeted URL. There are several variations of targeted URLs but all of them must in some way link to an Amazon page which uses your targeted keyword as a search term.
  • Discounted Offering – Because your campaign’s ability to drive ranking is centered around being able to generate a volume of sales that surpasses your competition, you need to provide an offer to shoppers that will lead them to immediately purchase your product. While you can technically offer any discount (provided that you can still obtain the quantity of sales needed), it’s typical to offer a limited number of products at a discount which hovers around 90% off. While this may seem dramatic, the intent is to provide these units at a steep discount in order to ensure that you can generate the number of sales necessary.
  • Buyer Group – Finally, you need an audience to provide your discounted offer to. You can use social media, email lists, or a service which has cultivated an audience of discount shoppers. It’s important to acknowledge what you’re looking for in this audience. While possible, it’s unlikely that these shoppers will be repeat customers and/or specifically interested in your product or brand. Ultimately, in most cases, these shoppers are using your offer to receive a cheap product (and hopefully have some interest in it), and you’re using them in order to drive keyword ranking for your listing.

While it is possible, given the resources, to run an external promotion of this type by yourself, there are several different options for services that can help to simplify this process. For instance, when using Viral Launch for an external campaign, our coaches can assist in keyword selection and necessary sales volume, and the platform will generate an appropriate URL and distribute your offer to a cultivated buyer group.

Though this tactic can obviously be costly, it is a very aggressive method to drive keyword ranking and help take a product to the next level of organic sales.

For reference, here are a few examples of campaigns recently run through Viral Launch:

Category: Baby

Keyword Search Volume: ~9,000 searches/month

Starting Rank: 188

Ending Rank: 13

Category: Beauty & Personal Care

Keyword Search Volume: ~11,000 searches/month

Starting Rank: 159

Ending Rank: 8

Category: Health & Household

Keyword Search Volume: ~66,000 searches/month

Starting Rank: 174

Ending Rank: 15

Facebook Campaigns (Using ManyChat)

If you’re building a brand, running a promotional campaign can be frustrating in that you’re driving the sales traffic, but you’re failing to connect these discount shoppers with your brand. Essentially, your promotional campaign creates a give and take relationship with the buyers. You use the buyers to ranking for your product, and the buyers use you to receive a discount.

Using social media however, you are able to make a closer connection with your audience and by running an external campaign. While a social media based campaign can be more advantageous from a marketing campaign, it can be a little more complicated to set up and it can be a little less reliable in its ability to drive an effective amount of traffic as the campaign is tied to the amount of engagement that your social media posts and advertising are able to generate.

If you are looking to utilize a social media based campaign to drive keyword ranking for your listing on Amazon, ManyChat is typically the best/easiest way execute on this strategy.

ManyChat is a chatbot software that allows for heightened engagement with your social media (Facebook) audience. Basically, to run an external campaign through ManyChat, you would set up ads which offer a discounted product through engagement with your brand’s Facebook Messenger. Once the chat dialog is opened, ManyChat walks the user through the steps of claiming and redeeming a coupon code for the product, driving the traffic through a targeted URL.

Either using posts through your facebook page or advertising, driving external traffic through ManyChat begins by establishing an offer and presenting it via social media. In this offer, you’ll want to lay out the discount being offered and request that the user clicks on ‘Send Message’ button to receive their discount.

When the chat window is opened, ManyChat takes over with a pre-scripted process for providing the discount and funneling the traffic through your targeted keyword. When developing the copy for your ManyChat campaign, it’s important to understand that you do want to have some level of engagement (a step or two) before receiving their coupon to ensure that your buyers are receptive, but you want to avoid being too wordy or complicated in order to hold their attention. Making them click a button or respond with a simple message is a good way to draw in your audience.

Once you have drawn in a buyer with an engagement statement, you’ll need to provide them with a coupon and instructions for claiming the offer. You also want to make sure to provide a link to Amazon through the offer and you’ll want that link to be a targeted URL for the purpose of driving rank.

One thing to note is that you will need to integrate your ManyChat campaign with another service such as Zapier to deliver coupons from a list, thus making the process a bit more technically complicated. You should also factor in cost of advertising on Facebook when comparing and contrasting a launch platform with a social media campaign. If you have a large audience and a good amount of engagement on social media, this method may be cheaper/more effective. Additionally, while you will have more control over price and the ability to target a more beneficial audience, you’ll also have a bit less control over the scheduling and redemption of your campaign than you would with a launch platform.

To recap the basic steps for a ManyChat campaign:

  1. Create ads and posts to provide an offer to your audience and direct them to messenger for engagement with ManyChat.
  2. Develop a ManyChat script, first implementing some sort of simple engagement step.
  3. If someone engages with the chat, provide them with the coupon code, steps to claim the code, and a link to purchase (using a targeted URL for the link)

While ManyChat gives you a lot of control over the messaging and branding, it’s important to keep in mind that you still need to abide by Amazon’s Terms of Service when driving traffic to their site. It can be tempting to ask for reviews through the ManyChat process and this was initially a very popular way to offer incentives for review generation. That said, Amazon is aware of this tactic and given the recently unveiled information that Facebook has been sharing information with Amazon (and sellers have been suspended in the past for using ManyChat to drive reviews), it is highly recommended that you avoid using ManyChat for any review generation purposes.

Conclusion

While advertising on Amazon is really the best sustainable way to drive growth for a product, it’s common to need an additional push to really maximize your visibility and sales potential. In these instances, using external traffic can provide you with the aggressiveness needed to drive your product to the front of the pack for high value search terms.

When advertising isn’t enough, a launch or social media campaign can give your listing an added boost. Though there is a degree of risk (considering that the effect of the promotion is dependent on Amazon’s SEO algorithms), using a proper strategy and an external campaign is an extremely effective method of generating peak visibility for your product, providing the opportunity to maximize organic sales.
While there are several different structures and services to assist with external promotions, these processes can be a bit complicated and ensuring that you have a proper strategy is the key to being successful. If you’re thinking about exploring this option to help drive your product to the next level, feel free to reach out with questions to service@viral-launch.com to speak with one of our coaches.

Getting Started With Efficient Amazon Advertising Campaigns in 2019

Setting Up Your Initial Campaigns For Success

As Amazon continues to grow their advertising platform, it can become confusing on how best to utilize each tool and campaign type. Whether you have a new listing or are trying to improve an existing one, Amazon advertising is an effective measure to bring traffic to your product to drive additional sales. After you have identified your keyword markets, optimized your listing content, and achieved retail-readiness with your product, it is time to put all of the work in the research phase of your ad campaigns to the test. A smart seller with a well thought out advertising campaign structure can start capturing sales efficiently from the get-go. Accruing a history of efficient sales early will benefit your ad delivery in the future. A campaign strategy that follows a logical, hierarchical structure is critical to deliver on your advertising goals. Follow this basic campaign structure to start building efficient sales history in your ad campaigns today.

Auto Campaign

First, Amazon and PPC experts alike recommend you set up an Automatic campaign to start getting your ads to deliver and building cheap sales. In an Auto Campaign, Amazon will “automatically” match your ad with keywords and products that are similar to your product based on shopper searches related to your product information (Title, category, etc.)

Using this campaign type will allow your ad to be shown in related search term results or on the detail pages of products. As of November 2018, the four different target types can be seen in your Auto campaign’s Ad Groups’ Targeting:

  • Close match: “show your ad to shoppers who use search terms closely related to your products.”
  • Loose match: “show your ad to shoppers who use search terms loosely related to your products.”
  • Substitutes: “show your ad to shoppers who view the detail pages of products similar to yours.”
  • Complements: “show your ad to shoppers who view the detail pages of products that complement your product.”

Amazon will start to deliver for one or two of these, but bids can be assigned to each tactic to help find out which category best meets your objectives.

Since Amazon is choosing the terms and detail pages that display your product’s ad, not only can it be used to help you build sales history cheaply and efficiently, but can also help identify search terms to expand the keyword set that you will want to target in other advertising campaigns.  Likewise, you can look at search terms that deliver and spend without driving sales. Finally, because Amazon can choose to deliver Auto campaigns in a variety of places, they can deliver a lot of impressions quickly.

By looking at the Search Term Report under the Advertising Reports tab, you can see exactly which customer search terms drove clicks for your product. Once you Identify a search term that has converted into sales at or below your profitability thresholds, you can target these converting terms in your other advertising campaigns to focus and efficiently scale your spending. Conversely, keywords that get a significant amount of traffic and don’t convert should be considered as negatives. By adding these non-converting search terms as negative keywords to your auto campaigns you can divert traffic away from inefficient keywords and funnel more of your daily budget to keywords that drive sales.

Product Targeting

Another way to start building efficient sales history early is with Product Targeting campaigns.  Product targeting places your ad on other product detail, add-to-cart, check out, order confirmation, and even search result pages.

For targeting, you can choose specific products, categories, brands, or other product features to target with your advertising. Giving you the ability to expand the amount of traffic brought through your advertising campaigns while remaining narrow in targeting.  By selecting individual ASINs as your targets, your product ad will only deliver on the detail pages of those products. While it can be time consuming, it’s worth going through potential targets and looking at the product and offering and selecting ASINs where your product is the same or better in one way or another. It is also worth considering that higher volume ASINs have the most traffic, but also have competitive bids.   

A good place to start looking for which products to target would be in one of our newest updates to Listing Analyzer. Viral Launch has released a Competing and Complementary Products report to each analysis. Using the content of your listing alongside sophisticated machine learning, our software will deliver a list of suggested products for you to capture in your Product Targeting campaigns. The competing and complementary products feature includes the ability to:

  • Discover complementary products frequently purchased together
  • Identify competitor products in your keyword markets
  • Sort and filter by products with high revenue and sales to maximize exposure

This new feature makes it quick and easy to get started with product targeting, saving you time by cutting down on manual research so you can make decisions quickly. Try Listing Analyzer for free to see for yourself.

Discovery Campaign

In another post, we talked about the importance of Keyword Research.  During this critical phase of product development, you will identify which keyword markets best fit your product.  Entering your main keyword into Keyword Research will return a list of associated search terms alongside metrics such as search volume, relevancy, etc.  Run a search in Market Intelligence or on Amazon itself and look at the product results for each search term.  How does your product match up against the competitors in each market? Be looking at metrics like price point, average review count, average review rating, sales copy, photo quality, shipping method (FBM or FBA), packaging and price by value. To understand how you should be analyzing each keyword market check out this webinar where we dive deep into the best ways to evaluate keywords. The goal is to have identified 10-15 keywords in your research that have a blend of high search volume to drive sales as well as high opportunity.

You want to focus on keyword markets that you have the best potential to convert traffic, and that have enough volume to warrant dedicated focus. Keywords with high opportunity scores typically have fewer advertisers bidding on them. This may allow you compete in cheaper keyword auctions than other higher volume keywords in the market.

Now that you have identified a narrowed keyword set to target in your advertising in the research phase, you need to put your research to the test.  These keywords will be referred to as “Discovery Keywords.” Create a new campaign and put your Discovery Keywords into individual ad groups for Phrase and Broad match types. The goal is to run traffic through your keyword set and test whether or not the traffic through these keyword markets will drive sales volume.  The structure of a Discovery campaign allows sellers to have a narrowly identified keyword set through keyword research, but have the slightly expanded audience of Broad and Phrase match types to test more search terms in delivery. Using this structure will quickly identify which keyword markets can be profitable and have the ability to increase sales volume.  If the total daily budget of your Discovery campaign is expended regularly, this campaign can easily be given more budget to continue to drive increased sales volume through spending and converting search terms. Since this campaign is utilizing both broad and phrase match types, check your Search Term Reports regularly to identify any unique customer search terms that should be broken out on their own or inefficient ones that should be added as negatives. This can greatly increase campaign efficiency

If a single keyword in the Discovery campaign drives a large percentage of sales or takes up a large percentage of daily spend, consider breaking out this keyword into its own individual campaign.  Give this new single keyword campaign its own budget and scale it separately from the Discovery campaign. Removing the keyword will let the budget be directed to the other keywords in the campaign which were previously not accruing any daily spend.

Exact Match campaigns can be a way to scale up a high performing keyword, but unless you are very certain you know what keyword will work for your product, they are not typically part of an initial campaign setup. Similarly, Sponsored Brands (Formerly known as Headline Search Ads) can be a efficient way to generate traffic to your brand by featuring multiple products, but should generally be rolled out as part of a larger strategy after you know your keyword markets well.

Next Steps/Conclusion

Amazon Advertising allows sellers to control what traffic is brought to their product listings and increase their sales. Following a well-organized campaign structure will help you identify the most valuable keywords and attach a record of efficient sales to your product. This step in the overall lifetime strategy of your product is critical before moving to the next phase of growing and scaling your business.  Start seeing the results to take your Amazon business to the next level. Try this strategy out today!

Amazon Product Targeting: What It Is and How To Implement an Efficient Campaign Today

Amazon recently released new targeting options for Sponsored Product campaigns that will have a major impact in your business in 2019. The new Product Targeting Beta lets Amazon sellers choose specific products, categories, brands, or other product features to target placements for your Sponsored Ads, changing the way you manage your advertising campaigns. This long-anticipated targeting option can be implemented to help shoppers find your product when browsing detail pages and categories, or when searching products on Amazon.

When creating a manual advertising campaign, the new targeting selection can be found just below your bidding options in Seller Central. Look for it under the “Targeting” header and select the “Product targeting – BETA” bubble.

Why Should I Use Product Targeting?

Product Targeting allows a seller to target individual ASINs or Products for ad delivery instead of keywords.  Sellers can now be very specific and controlled with their ad placement by delivering only on the products they choose to target. This narrow targeting can be used to build efficient sales history early on in your advertising campaigns. When deciding how to place and deliver your ad, Amazon will look at its historical performance relative to the market. Having an early track record of efficient sales history will benefit your ad delivery, ad costs, and ad placement in the future.

Which Products Should I Target?

There are several factors to consider when determining which and how many products you should choose to target with this new feature. These critical selections are dependent on the competitive features of your product and the desired positioning and marketing strategy.

Historic High-Converting ASINs

If you have run auto campaigns in the past, download a search term report and sort through the ASINs your ads delivered for. Find any ASINs that have converted profitably in the past and analyze the listing. Determine whether you have a better offering by comparing price point, review count and rating, value offered, etc…

ASINs Where You Have a Better Offer

Another method of finding ASINs to target is by searching the main keywords for your product, analyzing the search results, and hand-picking products where you have a better offer. Look for higher priced products, listings with poor review ratings or listings with fewer reviews. Objectively, if you have a better offer, that ASIN is likely worth testing in a product targeting campaign. The goal is to target placements through which you can drive sales efficiently (both by volume and cost per conversion). Here are some criteria to consider when analyzing which ASINs to advertise on:

  • Price: Is the price of your product similar or better in comparison?
  • Review Count: How many reviews does your listing have compared to the market?
  • Value Offered: Is your offering similarly priced though offer a better value? Example: you sell a felt letter board that includes a bag to store the letters and advertise on another offering without the added value.
  • Content/Photos: Does the content in your listing and quality of your photos look more attractive than your competitor?

The objective is to find as many competing ASINs where customers are more likely to purchase your product. If you have a better price, more reviews, a better review rating or some combination of these, customers should want to buy your product over the ASINs you advertise on!

Also, consider the amount of traffic a listing is getting before adding it to an ASIN targeting campaign. You can use an Amazon product research tool to understand traffic relative to each ASIN in your campaign. Products that get more sales are almost certainly getting more sessions. If you are advertising on products that are getting more sales, your ads will likely deliver more frequently than on products that get fewer sales or are ranked lower in the organic search results.

Complementary Products: Products Frequently Bought Together or in Similar Markets

Another category of products to identify for product targeting are complementary products.  Complementary products are supplementary goods that are often bought together. These are products often shown in the frequently bought together section on product detail pages. The goal of targeting these products is to attract customers with a product they didn’t realize they needed. For example, targeting paint supplies if you sell painter’s tape, or targeting lawn care goods for your work gloves product. Hitting people already in the buying mindset with a complementary product can increase sales volume in a market your competitors aren’t prioritizing.

Example: Targeting a toothbrush with your dental floss or toothpaste product

Competitor Products

In markets where you want to conquest market share, target high-trafficked competitor products to take away sales that they would otherwise be receiving. This has a dual-benefit of driving sales volume and sales history for your product, as well as affecting your competitor’s sales numbers and efficiency. Price your product with a more competitively against a specific ASIN or high-ranking product and target their ASINs to drive sales velocity quickly.

Find Competing and Complementary Products with Listing Analyzer

Identifying which ASINs to leverage with Product Targeting can be a time-intensive manual process, but it doesn’t have to be. In one of our newest updates to Listing Analyzer, Viral Launch has released the Competing and Complementary Products Feature. Using the content of your listing and machine learning, our software will deliver a list of suggested products for you to capture in your Product Targeting campaigns. The competing and complementary products feature includes the ability to:

  • Discover complementary products frequently purchased together
  • Identify competitor products in your keyword markets
  • Sort and filter by products with high revenue and sales to maximize exposure

This new feature added to Listing Analyzer makes it quick and easy to get started with product targeting, saving you time by cutting down on manual research so you can make decisions quickly. To save even more time, utilize the filters feature to show only products higher priced than yours or ASINs with a lower star rating. This will instantly give you a list of ASINs that your product is likely to convert well for when advertising on! Try Listing Analyzer for free to see for yourself.

Defensive Placements

Along with capturing placements where you wish to increase your market share, it is equally important to defend the placements you already dominate. For sellers with multiple products and variations in their catalog, product targeting can be leveraged to target your own listings. By showing your own products on the detail pages of other products in your catalog, you can take up space on the “digital shelf” to suppress your competitors’ visibility. By defensively spending, you prevent other sellers from intruding on valuable retail space on your product listings. By targeting these placements with other SKUs in your catalog you may even be able to increase sales across those other products!

ASINS from Farming Campaigns

When starting your paid advertising campaigns, it is critical to frequently sort through search term reports, farm high performing search terms, and add them to your campaigns. When you go through these reports, you can see that your auto campaigns will oftentimes deliver for ASINs instead of search terms. An effective seller will continually target these ASINs that have converted and include them in their product targeting campaigns. These “farmed” ASINs from search term reports have the benefit of already being “proven” with a historical sales record of converting for your product. It is highly encouraged to include these ASINs in your product targeting to build sales volume with efficient placements.

It is important to also look at ASINs that have delivered for your campaigns and have not converted. Although no sales have come through these ASINs, they have received clicks.  Amazon has delivered your product for these ASINs, which means it is recorded as algorithmically relevant. Sellers should look at these ASINs and identify whether they have a better offer while also reviewing them for potential new markets for complementary products. Explore the products that show up in your search term results. Every offer you can beat is another opportunity for you to grow your market share.

Category Targeting

As well as targeting individual ASINs for your ad delivery, Amazon now allows you to target entire product categories and subcategories. These category targeting campaigns deliver for any product across the targeted category and within the customizable parameters you set.

Amazon gives you the ability to refine your category targets by specific brands, price range, and star ratings. With narrow refinements, you can reach a broader audience while staying within range of products you can compete against. The more narrow your refinements, the fewer product targets your ad will deliver.  

Category campaigns should be used in instances where you have a better offer than most of the market, or you can deliver for a wide number of products within your delivery refinements.  Category targeting is less efficient because of its broader delivery, but can be implemented to scale up your campaigns and expand delivery across more product targets easily. Again, these campaigns can be used as a method of “farming” new ASINs to target in your specific product targeting campaigns. Inversely, find ASINs that you deliver for frequently though don’t convert for. Category ads allow you to add negative ASIN targets to help mitigate inefficient ad spend.

Negative Product Targeting

Amazon also now allows you to add negative product targets in your product targeting campaigns. Select products that you don’t believe you can compete against and add them as negative targets to remove them from delivering in your ad campaigns. This will help you eliminate inefficient placements and improve ad efficiency.

Managing and Scaling Your Campaigns

As with every advertising campaign, it is important to monitor the data that comes through the listing. Eliminate products targets that spend and do not convert after spending past your profitability threshold. The goal of this strategy is to build sales quickly and efficiently. Treat ASIN targets similarly to keywords. Pause ASIN targets as they spend over your profitability threshold or those that don’t convert and allow the budget to flow through your most efficient targets.

When high-performing ASIN targets are identified, scale up your campaigns and grow your market share. Select the targets that are driving sales at a rate that spends a significant amount of your daily budget, make sure they are given the money they need to spend throughout the day. These campaigns should be profitable, so scaling the campaign should increase your daily sales volume at an efficient rate. This is where the real growth occurs. Keep increasing the budgets of your campaigns that perform the best for your business and drive the highest percentage of your sales volume. Your market share will grow and the results will speak for themselves.

Conclusion: Maximize Your Sales with Product Targeting

Product targeting provides some of the most narrow targeting options for Amazon advertisers. This new feature should be leveraged by almost every seller to build sales volume effectively and efficiently. The ability to select only the products you want to deliver on can grow your market share without sacrificing spend efficiency. Our Competing and Complementary Products feature in Listing Analyzer makes it fast and simple to get started with this new feature.  Integrate product targeting into your ad campaigns today and start growing the reach and maximizing performance for your Amazon business!

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Major Discovery in Amazon Sponsored Ads & How To Use It To Boost Efficiency

On January 1st Amazon released three new features in sponsored products, Dynamic Bidding, Bid Adjustments, and Placements. Among a variety of benefits, these new features led the Viral Launch R&D team to a major discovery. This discovery has resulted in the development of a new PPC bidding/optimization strategy that is driving incredible results for sellers implementing the strategy properly. It’s important to note that this is one of many strategies we use and you can employ, and it really depends on the product and the market as to which one works best.

This post will walk you through the details of this new PPC tactic we’re calling Placement Optimization strategy and how you can begin using Placement Optimization in your PPC campaigns and begin seeing results immediately!

What Are Bid Adjustments & Placements

Performance by Placement

Once in Seller Central, you can click into a campaign and view a new tab titled “Placements.”  This new Placements tab provides insights into your campaign’s performance based on where the ad was displayed at the time. Amazon breaks it down into three placement groups: top of search (first page), rest of search, and product pages (defined below).

Top of Search – The top of search (first page) refers to the sponsored products ads at the top row on the first page of search results.

Rest of Search – Rest of search refers to sponsored products ads shown in the middle or at the bottom of search results, and all sponsored products ads in the second page of search results and beyond.

Product Detail Pages – Product pages refers to sponsored products placements on the product details page, and certain other placements off search results like the add-to-cart page. These ads show in the Sponsored Products Related To section on a listing’s detail page. Ads can show here through keyword targeting campaigns or by setting up product targeting campaigns.

Bid Adjustments by Placement

Bid Adjustments put the control in your hands to allow Amazon to spend above and beyond your set CPC for a specific placement. Amazon allows a number between 0 and 900% as a modifier to your set bid. Amazon does not allow you to set a specific bid amount for each placement, only this bid adjustment.

“For example, if you have set your CPC to $2.00 and Dynamic Bidding – Down Only selected, but set the Bid Adjustment to 50% for “Top of Search”, Amazon will bid up to $3.00 allowing for more positioning in the top sponsored ad results.


We’ll discuss below how to really take advantage of this feature to maximize your ad’s top of search placements.  

Our Mind Blowing Discovery

After looking through the placements report for a number of campaigns we are managing, we noticed some interesting tendencies around how frequently our keyword targeting campaigns (auto campaign, broad/phrase match campaigns, etc.) were showing on product pages. So we aggregated over $1MM in ad spend worth of campaigns to look at what was happening at a wide scale.

Here are the mind blowing stats:

On average ~84% of our newer keyword targeting campaigns are delivering on product pages!

We knew that ASIN targeting campaigns typically have a low click-through rate (CTR%), but this explained why some search terms had incredibly poor CTR%; they were delivering mostly on product pages! Meanwhile, while the clicks were more expensive, conversion rate (Conv.%) was ~60% higher for top of search traffic. It makes sense that a prospective customer is more likely to click into a product at the top of the search results for a given keyword than on a sponsored product showing on a competing product.

What was so mind blowing is that, this whole time advertisers have been turning on / turning off keywords based on their performance (CTR, Conversion, ACOS, etc.) assuming that keywords are / are not relevant based on the aggregated performance. In reality, those keywords we thought our products were not very relevant for, may have performed well for top search, but just happened to be a worse offer on the product pages Amazon decided to show us on.

For example, let’s say you are selling fish oil pills at a higher than average price point with only a handful of reviews. You run campaigns for the keywords “fish oil pills” and “omega 3 pills”. Prior to the insights Amazon’s new Placements feature provided, if the campaign targeting “omega 3 pills” resulted in low CTR, low conversion rate, and a high ACOS, you would assume that customers do not find your product very relevant for “omega 3” related keywords. In reality, there is a chance that Amazon was simply showing your new product with low reviews and a high price, on competitor pages where the competing products had more reviews and a lower price point. It’s very possible that your product was performing well for the “omega 3” keyword, but it was not performing well on the specific competitor listings Amazon chose to show you on.

Put differently, this should challenge everything you know about how relevant your product is for various keywords! There may be plenty of keywords you had passed off as poor performing and less relevant you may find actually perform well in search alone.

Fortunately, you have the opportunity to look at Placement reports for historical campaigns to begin answering some of the questions.

How To Use This Placement Optimization To Boost Efficiency

Within just over a week of releasing this new Placement Optimization strategy, we’ve received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and case studies on improvements to campaign efficiency and/or overall sales improvements. We want to make sure you have the knowledge to be able to apply it yourself!

The case study below highlights how removing inefficient traffic from product pages allows the traffic to flow through our most profitable placement. By allocating 100% of the budget to top of search, we saw a significant increase in sales and a significant decrease in ACoS!

1/1/19 – 1/7/19

1/21/19 – 1/27/19

In this section we will walk through:

  1. How to Isolate Traffic with Bid Adjustments
  2. How to apply the strategy for maximizing efficiency/sales

How to Isolate Traffic with Bid Adjustments

The R&D team at VL has come up with a quick and simple solution to segment ad traffic across ad campaigns to optimize efficiency across delivery placements.

To set up a campaign that will only deliver for Top of Search ad placements, set a low base bid for the keywords targeted i.e. $0.30.  A high percentage bid modifier can then be applied to Top of Search bid adjustment (ex. 800%). This will keep the bid amount low enough to not deliver in auctions for other placements, while also modifying the bid amount to deliver in the top ad placements only. Example: $0.30 bid with 800% modifier will deliver only at Top of Search placements at $2.40 bid.

WARNING: You should not force all campaigns to target only top of search. You need to follow the data for your own product and make sure it fits within your broader PPC strategy, which we discuss below. Test and analyze the results of each placement before making any decisions!

How to apply the strategy for maximizing efficiency/sales

Step One: Analyze existing campaigns. Consider historic performance, campaign type, match type and campaign objectives. Further, with the release of campaign bidding strategies, Amazon has made it extremely easy to spend more than you intended. It is our recommendation that you do this test initially with Dynamic Bidding – Down Only as your selected bidding strategy. Having an Up & Down bidding strategy selected could result in Amazon spending an additional 100% of your bid on top of your placement multiplier! This could lead to major overspending if left unchecked.

Other situations and scenarios to consider:

  • Since Placements are set for the entire campaign, if you have a lot of keywords in a single campaign, it’s difficult to know which keywords are actually delivering at top of search.
  • Auto campaigns are difficult to control, so a top of search tactic might change the words it’s delivering for and make the historic data you’re basing the decision off of useless for Placement decisions.
  • Lastly, if your campaign is performing well in all ad placements, there is a risk that changing it will disrupt that performance so you might want to instead just increase spend on that campaign.
  • If you are starting a new campaign, it is recommended that you gather data around each placement before setting any bid multipliers. Discover whether or not your product converts well for all placements and then adjust accordingly. To get some initial profitable sales, listen to our Product Targeting podcast where we discuss what can be one of Amazon’s most efficient traffic sources!

Step Two: If a campaign is spending above your target ACOS in one placement (ex. top of search or product pages) while spending below your target ACOS in another placement, then this is an indicator that you should begin isolating traffic away from the inefficient placement. In some instances, top of search is the unprofitable placement, while in other instances, product pages are the unprofitable placement.

If all placements are performing below ACOS, that’s great. You may have an opportunity to scale up your budget and increase your sales!

Step Three: If you have crunched the numbers and decided to focus traffic toward top of search, look at the bid you’ve been delivering at top of search for. Set a bid and bid adjustment to focus on that traffic. For example, the top of search (first page) clicks below have been delivering at an average CPC of $0.95. If you want to isolate traffic, you can do the math. You could set your bid to $1.00 for top of search by setting a bid of $0.13 ($1/800%). By not having a premium on product page placements, your campaign should divert traffic from inefficient product pages and push more impressions and clicks through top of search where you’re more likely to get sales!

If you’ve spent a lot of time and/or money doing Amazon’s PPC, you know there are a few levels between what you try to do and what Amazon delivers; and Placements is no exception. After you change the placements, you need to monitor results very closely to make sure it’s performing at the efficiency and effectiveness you want.

Practices to Avoid While Testing

We recommend everyone go test these new bidding strategies and placement adjustments based on the goals and objectives of their campaigns. When testing these new strategies, there are a few things that you should be sure to avoid…

  • Applying a large bid multiplier to top of search on campaigns that perform well for product page placements. If your campaign is running within desired ACoS and driving a significant amount of sales, it is not advised to interrupt the efficient flow of ad traffic.
  • Testing new bidding strategies such as Dynamic Bidding – Up & Down on a new campaign. Without a significant amount of ad history and data, Amazon will struggle in determining whether or not your ad is likely to convert. Test the impact of this new feature on an existing campaign to fully understand the impact it may have on your Amazon advertising methods.
  • Creating two campaigns with the same keyword set, bids, etc… and testing them against one another using different bidding strategies. Since both campaigns have the same keyword set, they would be competing against one another for the same auctions. Testing in this manner will likely lead to results that do not accurately represent how the campaign is likely to perform in an unbiased testing environment.
  • Recreating an existing campaign with a new bidding Up & Down bidding strategy. By copying the original campaign and creating a new one, you are essentially setting up a brand new ad that Amazon has never seen before. This campaign would have no ad history making it difficult for Amazon to predict the likelihood of a conversion in any given auction.

Conclusion

Adjusting bids by Placement can be a really powerful strategy to change how your campaign delivers. Now that you know what to look for, and how to make the change, you’re ready to go out and dig into your own campaigns. You need to follow the data for your campaigns and make sure that you are making the right decision for your product and campaign. Check your campaign metrics regularly and Follow The Data!

Amazon Dynamic Bidding & Bid Adjustments: 10x CTR Overnight

Amazon is constantly introducing new and effective tools to manage your Amazon advertising campaign performance. Perhaps one of the most impactful as of recent is the new Amazon dynamic bidding and placements features. Pay attention as this is having a big impact on client’s performance.

If you’re an Amazon seller, you’ve probably spent a considerable amount of money on Amazon Advertising. If not, you should certainly consider the impact it can have on your business’ overall profitability and share of the coveted “digital shelf.” When looking at our customer’s sales, our data shows that 15-40% of total sales are driven through paid search and it’s on the rise. If you’re not paying attention to this, your bottom line may be suffering severely.

However, Amazon Advertising is complex and is becoming more and more confusing with each update. Not to mention, these updates are happening with increased frequency. Understanding the Amazon Advertising platform and all of its capabilities is the first step in successfully setting up your next campaign.

One of the biggest drivers of campaign performance is the amount you’re paying per advertising click. This guide sheds some light on the new bidding strategies offered within Amazon Advertising and the direct implications they have on your sponsored ads strategies.

What is Amazon Dynamic Bidding?

As of the New Year, Amazon Sponsored Products campaigns are equipped with three (really two) new bidding strategies. These new bidding options are as follows:

  1. Dynamic bidding – Down only
  • When ‘down only’ is selected, Amazon will lower your bid in any auction where your ad is “less likely” to convert. Any campaign that was created before January of this year is using this bidding strategy. In practice, let’s say your bid is set at $1.50. In auctions where Amazon deems your ad less likely to convert, they may lower your bid to $0.60.

So what does this mean for advertisers? Amazon is deciding, in real-time, whether or not your ad is likely to convert a sale from a click in that particular auction. Based on past ad performance, buyer behavior, and presumably several other data points, Amazon is able to determine the likelihood of clicks turning into conversions. This is likely to result in ads receiving fewer clicks during times where conversion has been historically poor.

2. Dynamic bidding – Up and down

  • When using the ‘up and down’ bidding strategy, advertisers give Amazon discretion in adjusting bids both up and down based on the likelihood of a conversion. This setting permits Amazon to raise your bids up to 100% for placements at the top of the first page of search results. Amazon defines top of search as the first grouping of sponsored ads on the first page of search results. For all other placements, e.g. product pages and rest of search, Amazon will only increase your bid by up to 50%.
  • Practically, let’s say your bid is again set at $1.50 with dynamic bidding – up & down selected. In auctions where Amazon identifies a likely conversion opportunity at the top of the first page of search results, they may raise your bid to $3.00 based on a 100% bid adjustment. For opportunities outside of the first page of search results, (product pages) your maximum bid would be $2.25 based on a 50% bid adjustment. Inversely, Amazon may lower your bid to $0.60 in auctions less likely to convert.

What are the implications of Up and Down Dynamic Bidding?  Again, Amazon is deciding, in real-time, whether or not your ad is likely to convert a sale. In instances where your ad is more likely to drive a sale, your bid will be automatically increased. In auctions less likely to convert, Amazon will automatically decrease your bid resulting in fewer clicks on ads during poor conversion times. Assuming this works as Amazon intends, this could be a great way to drive down CPCs and increase conversion rates on your ads!

3. Dynamic bidding – Fixed bids

  • When using a ‘fixed bids’ strategy, Amazon will not deviate from your set bid. Again, if set at $1.50, Amazon will not adjust your bid based on the likelihood of a conversion.

Why use this bidding strategy? This bidding strategy gives the advertiser the most control over the performance of their ad. With fixed bids, you’re able to set your exact bid while not having to worry about an algorithm deciding whether or not to show your ad in particular auctions. This strategy would be best for a new ad campaign without any history. This way, your ad will continue to deliver and gather data without Amazon changing bids, affecting deliverability. You could use fixed bids until your campaign has accumulated enough data for you to decide which bidding strategy would work best.

Amazon Ad Placements

There are a few different placements recognized by Amazon, e.g. top of search, rest of search, and product pages. Before going any further into strategy, let’s define each of these placement types…

  • Top of search (first page)  – Amazon defines top of search as the first grouping of sponsored results on the first page of search results. Depending on the layout of the search results page and the number of products per page, this could mean 2-4 sponsored results. The two ads in the screenshot below represent the top of search for the keyword “fish oil.”
  • Rest of search – This refers to any ad spot that is not in the first grouping of sponsored products on the first page of the search results for a given keyword. The screenshot below shows sponsored results in the “rest of search” placement.

Product pages – These placements are shown directly on product detail pages in the “sponsored products related to this item” section. You can find these ads by visiting a product detail page and scrolling down past the listed bullet points. The screenshot below shows a list of sponsored products on the detail page of the #1 ranking product for “fish oil.”

Now, we’ve established a good understanding of the different placements of Amazon ads. Let’s get deeper into the weeds and discuss how strategies should differ for each placement.

Implementation Strategy – Bid Adjustments by Placement

Bidding by Placement

If you’ve been selling on Amazon for awhile or have at least dabbled in Amazon Advertising, you’ve almost certainly heard of Bid+. This was the old mechanism that allowed Amazon to programmatically raise your bid in an auction where you may not have the highest set bid. This old system only allowed Amazon to raise your bid, at most, 50%. With this recent update, Bid+ has been retired, though advertisers are now able to input their own maximum bid increase percentage. Even more, you’re able to input a maximum bid increase percentage unique to each placement!

Top of Search (first page)

As mentioned above, Amazon has retired Bid+ and replaced it with bid by placement. For auctions in ‘top of search’, you are now able to set your own maximum bid increase percentage. Prior to the update, Amazon set your default max bid percentage increase at 50%. Now, advertisers have the ability to input their own percentage up to 900%…

This can increase your bid and spend your budget extremely quickly. For example, let’s say you sell a fish oil. You have an existing campaign with ad history that has sold units at a reasonable rate for at least the last four weeks. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say all of your bids are set at $1.00. You then adjust your maximum bid increase to 100% for auctions in the top of search. If dynamic bidding – up & down is your selected bidding strategy, you could potentially pay up to $4.00 per click. We’ll do some quick math to explain… $1.00 bid increased by 100% = $2.00 due to your setting for adjusting bids by placement. Since the campaign is using an up & down dynamic bidding strategy, Amazon may increase your bid by another 100% taking your bid from $2.00 to $4.00 for auctions most likely to convert.

In the same scenario, if dynamic bidding – down only is selected, your max bid would be $2.00 for placements in the top of search. $1.00 bid increase by 100% = $2.00 due to your setting for adjusting bids by placement.

Product Pages

Keyword targeting campaigns deliver in different placements, including on product pages. For example, looking at a campaign that has received 85,959 lifetime impressions, over 70,000 of those impressions were received through product pages. With the new placements reporting feature, you’re able to view a breakdown of ad placements on existing campaigns.

Before deciding whether or not to set your maximum bid percentage increase for product pages, make sure to analyze your past performance for those placements. In this instance, you can see how much better the ad performs when delivering for the targeted keyword(s) compared to product pages. In this case our product page placements are still well within our ACoS target of 30%, so we would consider adding a max bid increase percentage to get more clicks in these auctions.

How are keyword targets delivering for product pages? When a buyer searches a keyword, a list of search results is populated… a process we’re all very familiar with. However, when the buyer clicks on an organic or paid search result, another list of products is shown in the product pages placement that we learned about earlier. The ads that are shown on a detail page are still attributed to the keyword the ASIN was trafficked through. This is new information never before available to sellers and has huge implications on keyword selection!

Why do my existing campaigns have a 50% increase for top of search? Any campaigns that were created before the update, and had Bid+ enabled, will have a 50% maximum bid increase for top of search. This setting should behave similarly to Bid+ if left unchanged.

Above, you see an active campaign using different maximum bid increase percentages based on the placement. For top of search, we’re willing to bid up to 50% more than our set keyword bid in order to get quality clicks. On product page placements, our bid adjustment percentage is only 25%. Since most product placement ads are shown on detail pages of direct competitors, they have a much lower likelihood of converting sales. However, they typically have much lower CPCs than search terms do! This means advertisers can afford to have a lower conversion rate and still stay within a desired ACoS range.

How should I incorporate bidding by placement into my campaigns? This bidding strategy is best for existing campaigns already running within your desired profitability threshold. This bid increase percentage will allow for more clicks in the top of search. If your product converts historically well through the ad, you’re likely willing to pay slightly more to get clicks, especially in auctions where Amazon deems your ad most likely to convert. Keep in mind, in order to get the same level of traffic, you may need to increase your daily budget. Spending more per click allows for fewer clicks if budget is not scaled up.

For brand new campaigns, we do not recommend using dynamic bidding – up & down. If this bidding strategy is used on a new campaign, you likely won’t see desired results. Without historic performance data, it would be difficult for Amazon to accurately predict which auctions have the highest likelihood for a conversion.

How to 10x your Click-Thru Rate Overnight!

If you only take away one tactic you can apply to your business from this blog post, let it be the following. This strategy could more than triple the CTR on your campaigns in less than 24 hours!

Since Amazon has given us visibility into the placement breakdown of existing campaigns, we know that in most cases, we are delivering many more impressions on detail pages than we are for keyword searches. An analysis of campaigns VL has managed over the last few months shows that 83% of total impressions happened on detail pages! The rest of search produced 13% of impressions and top of search received 2.5%.

How can I make sure to deliver for keywords rather than product pages? When we discovered that more than 80% of our total impressions were being shown on detail pages rather than for keywords, we were shocked (to say the least). We quickly rallied to figure out a way around this and we think we’ve come up with a great solution. We tested this theory and proved it out, though we’re working to collect more data before releasing a full case study.

That said, we have enough examples to prove that this method works and will drastically change how your ads deliver. When setting up a new campaign or editing an existing one, you are able to change your bid adjustment percentage based on the placement type. In order to ensure you deliver for more search terms than product pages, you can set your bid very low, while setting an aggressive bid modifier for top of search. This ensures that your bid is very low for product pages while still allowing for aggressive bids to be placed on auctions showing in top of search!

For example, we took an existing campaign, reduced the bid from $1.52 to $0.30 with an 800% bid adjustment for top of search (effectively a bid of $2.40 for just top of search, $0.30 for product pages, and $0.30 for rest of search). By doing this, we were able to reduce total impressions for detail pages to ZERO. Furthermore, we were able to improve CTR nearly tenfold in a matter of two days by eliminating poor performing ad placements on product pages.

Conclusion

Dynamic Bidding strategies are still in Beta phase, so it’s very likely adjustments will be made to the algorithm as Amazon gathers more data. In the meantime, this guide explains how these new bidding strategies should be implemented into your existing campaigns. When exploring these new bidding strategies and how they may influence your campaigns, make sure to test them on existing campaigns first! A new campaign has no historical data making it essentially impossible for Amazon to determine when an ad is more or less likely to convert. By applying an up & down bid strategy to a top performing campaign, you may be able to drive more conversions with a similar amount of ad spend!

Viral Launch’s R&D team has spent the last 12 months managing and analyzing hundreds of successful Amazon Advertising campaigns. As we gather our own data around these bidding strategies, we’ll be sure to share the tactics producing the best results so advertisers can boost the effectiveness of their ads.

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