Amazon Sponsored Ads: The ultimate guide to all new features
In the past several weeks, Amazon has gone about a major overhaul in its marketing portfolio strategy. Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is blazing in a new direction, not just in name alone. Exciting opportunities for marketers arise with new targeting options, ad placements and reportings.
In order to keep track and stay on top of this advertising jungle, here we will present all the updates on Amazon Sponsored Ads.
[Update] Negative keyword for Sponsored Brands
Recently, both vendors and sellers have been able to use negative keywords for sponsored brands. Previously, this function could only be used with Sponsored Products. Unlike sellers, vendors can still only use negative keywords for SPs in manual campaigns, not for auto-SP-campaigns.
Negative keywords exclude certain keywords from targeting. This means that the ads don’t appear for the corresponding search queries. So, advertisers can fine-tune their campaigns. By defining irrelevant search queries as negative keywords, you can increase the efficiency of advertising measures.
As with sponsored products, you can choose a negative match type:
- Negative phrase: The ads don’t appear if the search query contains the negative keywords in the defined sequence. Further search terms can follow before or after them.
- Negative exact: To prevent ads from being shown, the search query must match the negative keywords one-to-one. No further words may follow before or after them.
Amazon Advertising Expert Nils Zündorf about negative keywords:
“Besides keyword optimization and brand safety (‘toy’ vs. ‘sex toy’), we use negative Keywords to make sure we address the right target group.
A quick example: a Campaign to attract new clients with generic search terms.
‘vacuum cleaner’ in broad match would also show impressions for ‘vacuum cleaner Dyson’ or ‘Bissell vacuum cleaner’ which obviously changes the target group and messes up the results. If you’re Dyson the results will be way better on your keyword because you address clients who are already looking for your brand. Or results will be “bad” because you actually try to convince somebody who is looking for the competition. To prevent this, you can define your own brand and competitor keywords as negative keywords for such campaigns.
Even worse: often, the results are misinterpreted because the underlying customer search term is not visible in the dashboard! In theory, you could only work with exact match-keywords but from experience, it’s not maintainable due to the number of keywords.”
Product and category targeting for Sponsored Products
Up until this point, Sponsored Products (SPs) have played a role mainly in search results and through keyword searches. Now targeting specific ASINs will also be possible. As in the case of Product Display Ads (PDAs), Sponsored Products will be placed on selected product detail pages.
Manual SP campaigns which include ASIN targeting are suitable for cross-selling and upselling. Furthermore, a brand’s targeting of its own products should not be neglected, particularly in order to protect against attacks from competitors.
Another newly available option is to target product categories. This feature is also known by Product Display Ads (PDAs) to Sponsored Ads users. There is a possibility to choose between different categories relevant to the products you want to promote, that are predefined by Amazon.
To manage SP campaigns with category targeting in the most precise way possible, there are also various filter functions available. So you can target products, that
- belong to certain brands
- are within a defined price range
- have a certain star rating
The advantage is that products selected as targets are not static, but will be selected continually on the basis of the saved filters. As an example, if an item falls outside the specified price range, it is automatically excluded from targeting. At the same time, newly listed ASINs of a brand are automatically taken into account during targeting and do not have to be added manually.
You can further refine manual product and category targeting by using the available negative targeting options. For example, certain brands and individual ASINs can be excluded.
Downstream control function for automatic campaigns
Amazon Sponsored Ads users have also recently been able to refine automated SP campaigns. In this case, the control takes place downstream. That means the filter options appear only after the campaign has been created, and allow you to direct Ads specifically at users who:
- choose search terms that are either remote or closely related to the advertised products
- view products that complement or substitute for the advertised ASINs
New Reporting for Sponsored Ads
While reporting on Amazon Marketing Services has long been lacking, the advertising giant is now providing some useful reporting – particularly for Sponsored Products (SP) and Sponsored Brands (SB). You can now download the following reports from the Advertising Console and use them to evaluate success and for continuous optimization:
|Report Type||Information Included|
|Keywords / Search Terms||These reports can show you which keywords your campaigns were used for and how they performed in terms of keywords. |
The Sponsored Products report also tells you which keywords consumers actually use.
|Targeting (SP)||In this report, you can find campaign-level performance data for all your targeting options: keywords, products, categories, and automated playout.|
|Advertised product (SP)||This report provides performance data at the ASIN level. For example, you can see how many times individual products have been featured and how their CTR (Click Through Rate) has performed.|
|Placement||Here you can see where campaigns have been placed and how these placements have performed. |
In the case of Sponsored Brands, there is also a report that provides information about where campaigns were placed on individual search terms (Keyword Placement).
|Campaign (SB)||Use this report to see general performance data for your individual Sponsored Brands campaigns, regardless of placements and keywords.|
Dynamic Bidding for Sponsored Brands
Sponsored Brands appear not only through the search results but for some time also show up below and to the side of these search results. There is a dynamic bidding function to gain placement in these areas. Automated bidding allows marketers to tell Amazon to increase or decrease the keyword’s maximum bids by a specified percentage. According to Amazon, the optimization is based on the actual conversion rates of the placements.
Here is an example: You set a maximum bid of 4 euros for a keyword and indicate a possible reduction of up to 25%. If Amazon finds that the ads in the lower ad slots are not converting as well, the maximum bid will automatically be reduced by up to 25%. That is, for the corresponding placements a maximum bid of no more than 3 euros and not 4 euros applies. The goal is more efficient distribution of the campaign budget.
Organizing campaigns in portfolios
Marketing professionals now have the ability to link different campaigns within an account and organize them into custom Portfolios. The feature is available for Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products. When structuring the Portfolios, you have a free hand. For example, they can be sorted by brand, product category or line, and seasonality.
Portfolios offer two major benefits:
- You can now work with cross-campaign budget limits
- Performance data is accumulated and output at the Portfolio level
That gives you a quick overview of the overall performance of the linked campaigns. Segmentation can be used, for example, to identify trends relating to product groups or brands and draw comparisons.
Define your budgets at the portfolio level
If necessary, you can set a budget cap for each portfolio that will not be exceeded. This minimizes the manual overhead of monitoring and controlling budgets.
You can set budgets for a custom runtime, or without an end date. If the budget is used up, all assigned campaigns automatically pause. You will also receive a notification automatically.
Of course, the budgets for individual campaigns continue to apply. However, if a campaign still has budget when the portfolio budget is used up, the respective ads will no longer be played. Here’s an example: You set up a portfolio with a budget of 100 Euro per day and assign three Sponsored Ads campaigns with a daily limit of 50 Euro each, i.e. a total of 150 euros per day. In this case, the campaigns can not fully utilize their respective budgets and may be suspended before their campaign budget is exhausted.
Best Practice: Do not set campaign budgets too low, but instead drive your target budget at the portfolio level. This ensures that good-performing campaigns can run unhindered and their budget is not used up before the end of the day.
When using portfolio budgets and timelines, marketers should keep in mind that you can not (yet) influence the pacing with the settings. That is, you can not define the speed with which the budget will be spent or that it will be distributed evenly across the life of the portfolio and the campaigns. A campaign of the portfolio is therefore able to use up the entire target budget at the beginning of the portfolio’s term. This makes it all the more important to define targeted budget limits at the campaign level as well.
Note: Software solutions such as amabid (part of factor-a suite) enable automated and rule-based optimization of Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns. Increase the quality of your campaigns and reduce unnecessary costs of inefficient campaign switching.
Manage multiple Amazon Stores over a single account
Whereas before only one Amazon Store could be created per account, vendors and sellers will soon be able to create and manage several Amazon stores via one account. The prerequisite for the creation of stores is trademark registration on Amazon.
Bidding Control for Sponsored Products
Sponsored products can now be targeted more effectively with new bidding options. The range of functions of the so-called bidding control includes:
- Dynamic bids
- Adjustment of bids by placement
- New placement reports
All information about the new features can be found in our guide to Bidding Control.