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Do I need this campaign?

Campaigns are easy to start. So are ad groups. It’s tempting to start a whole bunch of them. Some consultants even recommend it. We’re here to help you resist that temptation.

Why resist the temptation? Starting more campaigns or ad groups or keywords than you need leads to a complicated mess. Complicated messes are hard to manage and usually lead to a worse performing account than a simple one.

If you want a high performing account, you need an account you can manage.

It’s true that lots of ad groups can get you some control

The most common reason for starting a lot of campaigns or ad groups is to split out SKUs to get more precise data on the performance of each SKU. The theory makes sense: Amazon doesn’t give you SKU level data but you can force them to give it to you by having one SKU per ad group. However, this can quickly get too big.

Let’s see an example of how quickly this simple structure grows.

By splitting out by match type you get this

And then if your product comes in multiple sizes you get this. Now we’re up to 12 ad groups with only three sizes!

One more split by three colors and we’re up to 36 ad groups!!

And this is just with 3 sizes and 3 colors. Clearly this is not scalable.

And it gets worse. The clincher is that if you’ve got a 1000 keywords that you’re putting in each of these ad groups then you have 27,000 keywords total, plus the 9 automatic ad groups. Having control this precise is only useful if you can actually manage 27,000 bids.

So while at first putting different products into their own ad groups or campaigns seems like a good idea, it’s often more trouble than it’s worth.

What you really want to control is exposure to search terms

Insight into SKU performance is nice. But what you really need is control over which customer searches your ads show up for, and how much you pay for that exposure. When you have an ad group for each SKU, you don’t actually have full control of what Amazon will show when someone searches for a keyword that is in each ad group. The best you can do is encourage Amazon to pick one ad over the other by bidding more in one ad group. If you want to reduce or increase your exposure to a specific search term, you need to manage all of your bids across all of those ad groups in sync. Otherwise Amazon will likely just give the impression to the same keyword with a higher bid in another ad group.

Now, if managing tens or hundreds of bids just to control exposure to one search term seems like a challenging task, that’s because it is. And that’s why we recommend you isolate your exposure for each search term to one place.

If we sell a cape and have ad groups split out by match type and size then we have a lot of places to manage exposure. If we have just the keywords in the table below we have 30 places where the search term “black cape” can get exposure.

Contrast that to the much simpler structure below. If we have a negative exact keyword for “black cape” in our auto campaign and just have “black cape” as an exact match then we only have one place to control exposure:

In both cases, Amazon will pick which ad it wants to show but in the second case you’re collecting all of your performance data for the search term “black cape” in one place and only need to adjust the bid on that one keyword to control it. So much easier!

Let’s take a look at how this plays out with some flow charts. This first one represents having three ads in one ad group with a broad and phrase match keyword that both can fire on the search term “black cape”. You can see we have two places to manage bid if we wanted to increase or decrease the number of impressions we get for “black cape”

If we broke out each SKU into its own ad group, we’d have six bids to manage!

Search term isolation reduces the number of bids to manage down to one. This is like only needing to manage one valve to control the flow of impressions to your ads. This is what you want.

Conclusion

Reducing the complexity of your account can allow you to manage it more efficiently and effectively. Breaking SKUs by ad group gives the illusion of control because you get data at the SKU level, but you don’t have precise control over your exposure to a given search term as Amazon can shift impressions between multiple keywords and ad groups.

Reducing the number of places a search term gets exposure (ideally down to just one keyword) gives you maximum control of your performance.

Cape image credit: Tom Ingebretsen

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