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Amazon Advertising: How to Build and Optimize Campaigns

Published: October 9, 2018

Author: Nathan Singer

So you want to make more money by advertising on Amazon, you say? If you missed my first post, on Selling Your Products on Amazon: Know Your Options and the advertising options for each, check it out. If you’re all caught up, let’s get down to brass tacks.
As we’ve learned across a range of clients, the way you structure your campaigns, the optimizations you can make within campaigns, and a few quirks of the platform can all make a big difference in your top and bottom lines. In this post, we’ll dive into 3Q best practices that you should put into play immediately, whether you’re just launching on the platform or wondering how to move the needle for already existing campaigns.

Ad Types

There are three ad types in Amazon: Sponsored Products (available for Vendors and Sellers), Headline Search Ads (available for Vendors and Sellers), and Product Display Ads (available for Vendors only).

Campaign Structure

The ideal structure varies by ad type, so we’ll give separate recommendations for Sponsored Ads, Headline Ads, and Product Display Ads.

Sponsored Ads

For Sponsored Ads, we recommend a version of our classic, industry-standard Alpha-Beta campaign structure, which has dominated thought leadership in SEM. It breaks down like this:

By utilizing the Alpha/Gamma/AT strategy, you have complete query mapping control of your top keywords and and guarantee optimal coverage for keywords you’ve yet to discover.

Headline Ads

Since Headline ads are highly competitive and have limited inventory, we suggest launching your top keywords in Broad in order to drive enough volume to make optimizations.
To limit the amount of campaigns necessary to manage, you can also implement Exact and Broad keywords in the same campaign. They do not compete against each other in the auction, and including both keeps all Keywords in one place to analyze which match type is performing best.
Let’s break down recommendations for each of those.
Keyword Type
If you’re advertising your own brand’s products (yes, you definitely should), target your Brand name and product to optimize the user experience and to push competitors out of the space.
Like on Google, Amazon’s Brand CPCs are very low — but also like Google, Amazon is a highly competitive space. We have seen up to 40-50% increases in Sessions (Visits to product page) and Units Sold (Conversions) for products that have high competitive intensity.
Target highly relevant keywords that do not contain your brand name (e.g. if you sell headphones, bid on headphone terms).
Complementary Products
Target products that are sold separately from yours but could be used together (e.g. if you sell baby apparel, bid on baby monitor terms).
Out of Category
Be creative. Users have a higher propensity to purchase in Amazon than any other marketplace. This allows you to get great returns even on upper-funnel keywords that you would not test in other channels (e.g. if you’re selling a popcorn machine, advertise it on DVD terms).

Product Display Ads

It is very difficult to scale this ad type. When targeting by product, you have a few options:

  • Brand: Show your Display Ads on your product in order to block competitors from showing
  • Competitors: Show your ads on related Competitor product pages
  • Complimentary products: Show your ads on product pages that are sold separately from yours but could be used together

To push for scale, you can also expand to Interests targeting (which places your ad on certain products based on select interests) to push more volume, but you have no control of where your ads will show. If you do decide to use these ads, since you can not view individual product performance, we recommend that you break out Campaigns by Product type in order to make optimizations based on the overall theme.


There are two main optimizations you can make in Amazon:

1. Bid Optimizations

Sponsored Keywords

If you’re utilizing Seller Central, you can place an ad group-level bid or place a unique keyword bid.

Headline Keywords

Place a bid at the Keyword level only. If your Keyword has enough data, you can see an estimate of the Keyword’s win rate in the auction:


  • Start any new Campaign with all the Keywords at one aggressive bid to push enough volume to bid down accordingly.
  • Utilize the bid+ tool, which allows Amazon to add up to 50% to your bid to push your ad to the top of the SERP


2. Query Scrubs

Pull queries from Sponsored Ads:


  • Once you’ve got the report, find any queries that are performing well to promote to Exact Match (Alpha) and expand into Headline Ads.
  • Negate any irrelevant queries.

Amazon Quirks (Don’t Learn Them the Hard Way)

As with any platform, there are some limits (and an opportunity) unique to Amazon:

  • Campaign names can not be updated once live, so be sure to have your campaign naming convention dialed in.
  • Once a Campaign is live, you can no longer add new ads or update current ads.
  • Reviews are a huge part of converting on Amazon. Make sure you’re constantly identifying your best-reviewed products and promoting them.


Amazon advertising isn’t rocket science. Use these tried-and-true best practices to get the most out of the biggest opportunity in eCommerce.

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