It’s Time to Expand the Way You Look at PPC Optimization

Gone is the Amazon PPC strategy of yesterday! It's time to shift the way you approach paid advertising on Amazon, with the help of a new Amazon PPC tool.

“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”

― George Carlin

Most people discuss PPC campaign optimization in the context of one to two week increments, which is the minimum suggested time frame to review data. While there is nothing wrong with this “minimum requirement” approach, it’s important to remember that long-term historical data also plays a critical role with Amazon PPC optimization.

We invite you to take a step back and re-frame the way you look at your PPC data. 

What optimizations should you be implementing on a monthly basis? How about on a 60-day or quarterly basis? 

We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but merely widen our vision to better understand how that wheel moves the vehicle that is your Amazon business.

By including a longer-term perspective, keywords that you thought were working for you week over week may reveal themselves to be hurting you overall.

This mindset will ultimately help you to:

  • Eliminate wasteful spend 
  • Identify positive trends you were previously unaware of
  • Increase sales of specific products
  • Drastically lower your ACoS (Average Cost of Sale)

Think of this as yet another arrow in your PPC quiver.

A Change in Perspective Gives You a Shortcut to Solutions 

With a longer view of your data, you may discover some issues you didn’t notice before. 

Problem: You aren’t getting the same amount of impressions for a keyword

This typically indicates an indexing issue and is a red flag you don’t want to go unnoticed. If you are no longer indexing for a keyword, there is decreased likelihood that keyword will be utilized for PPC. 

Now that we know a problem exists, we can work on solving it. If you are not indexing for a desired keyword, check out our pro training video on “what to do if Your Product is not Being Indexed.”

If you are still indexed for a specific keyword, it may indicate other players have entered the space. You’ll need to increase your ranking and PPC can help with an increased budget and bid on that keyword.

You could also look for search terms connected to that keyword – if you don’t see the ones previously connected to that keyword, maybe now’s the time to pull out those search terms and target them directly. 

Keep in mind, it’s typically more affordable to leave those search terms to Amazon to connect automatically. As soon as you pull out a search term to make it a keyword it becomes more targeted, and more expensive… but if you are losing impressions to those search terms, this is the only way to get them back. 

Problem: A keyword that was once converting at a low ACoS, is now converting at a high ACoS

If the sales have remained relatively the same, but spend has gone up, then there probably are new search terms (added by Amazon) that have been linked to the keyword(s). 

A longer time-view will make it easier to find those search terms and make them negative targets so they aren’t driving up your spend. Afterward, that keyword may become affordable again.

Problem: An auto campaign started strong, but spend is now out of control with stagnant sales

Auto campaigns have become increasingly difficult to keep on track over the last year or so. One theory is that there are so many sellers now targeting specific keywords, that auto campaigns have begun targeting mostly remnant traffic. The only way to check this is to view your search term results. 

If looking at a 2 week window only, you may find 100 search terms that have spent .50 each. No big deal at $50 total. But let’s say you looked at the same search terms over 90 days and they still had no sales, spending $50 every 2 weeks. $300 in spend without sales is now something you’ll want to address! Time to start adding some negative keywords to stop the bleeding.

Pro-Tip: 

The easiest way to address the search term fiasco described above is to look at your auto campaign’s targeting parameters. For newer auto campaigns, Seller Central now displays automatic targeting groups to match your ads to shoppers. 

Targeting Parameters in Auto Campaigns 

 Amazon has breakdowns for auto campaigns they are using to target shoppers:

  • Loose matching- Loosely related search terms (same category, different product)
  • Substitute matching- Shoppers viewed potential replacement of your product
  • Close matching- Closely matched search terms to your product
  • Complementary matching – You sell pillows so you may be shown on a product like sheets.

These targeting levers can only be found by clicking into an Ad Group and then selecting the “Targeting” option:

When looking at the longer view of the auto campaign, you will be able to tell which targeting lever is working best for you… and which is draining your bank account. Oftentimes, you will find that the hundreds of search terms that are spending small amounts that add up over time are coming from one targeting type over another.

Problem: Overall campaigns performance has dropped off

If the issue is not at the search term or keyword level and you have multiple products in a campaign, it’s worth checking the longer view data to see if just one or two products have stopped performing or never performed well. If this is the case, it changes the dynamic of the problem. Now you know you are not working with a campaign problem, but a product problem

With this knowledge, you can turn off the products within the campaign, or maybe pull them into a different campaign to do further testing. Maybe it’s just a color variation that isn’t converting.

In any case, you want to check the longer term data for any products that are pulling down the results of a campaign. By pausing these products, overall campaign performance will dramatically improve. 

Pro-Tip: 

If overall campaign performance has started to drop, in addition to the above solutions, you should remember that you have the ability to control your placement when bidding. This should also be checked on a 30 / 60 / 90 day basis. 

Found at the campaign level, once you click on the “Placements” option, you will see the following: 

amazon ad campaign

Percentage Based Placement Bidding

  1. Top of search:  Allows users to adjust their bidding to be seen on top of search results.
  2. Product pages: Allows users to adjust their bidding to be seen on the product pages of competitors.
  3. Rest of search: Every other placement that currently has no controls in place. 

Over several months you should be looking at which one of these categories you are excelling at. These longer term performance trends should dictate where to increase or decrease your spending by adjusting the percentages. 

Is it time to adjust? Are you spending more money than you have to? The answers to these questions can only be found by expanding your view past the day-to-day data (or week-to-week data) alone.

Pro-Tip 2: 

Depending on your settings, you will want to regularly check to see if changes to your dynamic bidding are affecting your overall campaign’s performance.  

Available to edit within the “campaign settings” of any campaign in Seller Central, these specific selections change the entire dynamic of your campaigns: 

amazon sponsored products

1. Dynamic bidding down – If Amazon finds a keyword that is not relevant or likely to convert, it will lower your bid to an appropriate amount for the given position. Everyone should be doing bid down only as most campaigns will perform better because this is the Amazon algorithms original setting. 

2. Dynamic up & down bidding – However, if Amazon does find a keyword likely to convert, it will raise your keyword bid up to 100% for first page search results and up to 50% for other placements. Keep in mind, Dynamic up and down bidding affects bidding of all keywords in the campaign. If you are testing this, it’s important to go back 30 and 60 days and double check the results.

3.  Fixed bidding – Amazon will always use your exact bid per keyword (dynamic bidding is deactivated). Since dynamic bidding requires significant data/history to do its job, fixed bidding can be used for new campaigns, but it is not recommended once there is sufficient data to take advantage of Amazon dynamically lowering your bids. If you are testing this, again, it’s important to go back 30 and 60 days and double check the results.

Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees

If a doctor was checking your medical history based solely on the last month, would they be able to tell if you were currently healthy? Probably. Would they be able to gather a truly accurate view of your health on a comprehensive and accurate level? Absolutely not.

Be a good doctor for your PPC campaigns. 

Don’t get stuck looking at only the last 7 days of data. In a week’s worth of time you may find 10 clicks, one conversion on a keyword, and a 10% ACoS. Things are looking good, time to increase the bid, right?

Well, let’s step back and look at 30 days. Now we may see 100 clicks, two conversions, and an 80% ACoS. Now, you may decide to wait things out. This is hypothetical, but you can see how the story changes depending on your perspective. 

Looking at only one data set without the other paints an incomplete picture. We want the whole masterpiece! 

At the end of the day, a broader viewpoint will yield more reliable data, and therefore more informed decision making

Get Your Free PPC Audit by Helium 10!

We are proud to introduce the new PPC Audit Tool by Helium 10, powered by Helium 10 ADS. 

Here’s how it works.

  1. Visit https://www.helium10.com/amazon-ppc-audit/
  2. Watch the intro video 
  3. Upload your 60 day search term report

ADS will instantly scour the data and provide actionable insights based on your specific campaigns. This includes uncovering duplicate keywords, wasteful spending, and bringing to light the metrics in your campaign that are working. 

Take advantage of this FREE long-term review of your PPC campaigns to help chart your course more efficiently.

Vince Montero

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