Amazon PPC Checklist

Actionable Amazon PPC Checklist For Amazon Sellers

25 min to read
Victor Tolok

by Victor Tolok

Creative Content Creator

“Does your Amazon PPC make you money? Or does it soak up the budget and give little in return?”

Ihor Dubovetskyi
CEO of Profit Whales

Are you struggling against larger competitors who dominate Page 1 or search results? Or is it that your brand campaigns are the ONLY genuinely profitable Amazon PPC tool?

Make sure to give our Checklist a go and see if you can rally enough quality in your Amazon PPC campaigns to move your sales forward!


Can an FBA Seller be a successful Amazon and not spend a penny on Amazon PPC advertising?
Well, yes.

Can this Seller do so without spending ANY money on advertising ANYWHERE?
Probably not.

The Google Ads, Facebook & Instagram, YouTube vloggers, published online articles, and even offline advertising – are all known to generate good sales on Amazon for all manner of goods and services. Amazon PPC is just another source of qualified leads that can generate your sales.

So, by all means, do try out different eCommerce marketing tactics – and see which is best for you.

We will provide you with a sound checklist (and some logic behind it) that we believe the key for those of you who want to use Amazon PPC as a primary marketing tool.

What does Amazon PPC really do?

  • For Amazon
    – it’s about earning some extra buck off Amazon Sellers. Also, it’s a kind of qualifier for the Amazon algorithm that tells it how serious a seller is about his/her business on the Amazon platform. 

  • For the Seller
    – it’s about pushing their product onto the market. Being shown on the little precious selling real estate Amazon platform provides (up to 60% of all Amazon purchases in 2019 came from Search Page 1). It’s also probably the only direct way Amazon provides for a new product to make itself visible amongst more established brands and products. Finally – the Search Term Reports are the only legitimate way Amazon actually lets you see what customers type in search console when browsing for your product. This vital info is not readily available from Amazon – and to get it is costing you money via the PPC. Sad but true! 

Amazon PPC is a tradeoff between spending some money on marketing and receiving a lot more in extra sales. 

So let us dive deeper into how to make & run Amazon PPC as controlled and profitable as genuinely possible.

PART 1 — Amazon Product Listing Optimization

There is some serious (and often neglected) work needed to be done before even creating your first Amazon PPC campaign.

When preparations are done correctly, Amazon ads WILL drive your sales in almost any circumstances: either on its own (with profitably-low ACoS) or by enhancing your top organic keywords’ ranking faster, that it would’ve evolved naturally (thus justifying even too-high ACoS).

What Amazon PPC will NOT do – is be your “lifewest” when your product and/or listing is sub-par in the eyes of your customers:

  • Low perceived quality
  • Bad photos or info, 
  • Too few reviews and too low Stars
  • Too high a price (compared to the competing products)
  • Etc.

Spending little time on perfecting your Product Detail Page before pouring money into the PPC campaign will result in your LOSING money with Amazon. This will happen, no matter how good your PPC campaign is.

So how do we prepare our product listing before launching the PPC?

Amazon Product Listing Optimization

In truth, there are dozens of useful articles on the Internet on what makes a good Product Detail Page. They will tell you all about how to make a Top-of-Search listing with CTR of 2-5% or higher and convert above 10%. Let’s very briefly recap some of those:

  • Have a solid Picture 1 (and other pictures). Why? Since Amazon is an ONLINE platform, most of your customers probably would never have used or even seen your specific product before. They will use their eyes to tell if it’s what they’re looking for – or should they jump to the next offer. So do all you can to be an eye-candy! To catch their attention with that picture and have them click on it…

  • Clear, readable title text. Why? Knowing how your customers think and what they look for in your product in the first place – is a must. This will allow you to create a captivating title that will draw relevant clicks. For example: if you were to sell a laptop – you would do well to mention its brand and screen size first, as opposed to SSD volume or how many USB ports it has. First things first. And the very first thing should be in that title! 

  • Bullet points. Have the most brilliant and penetrating selling points about your product be in bullet points, waiting for those customers who liked your Pic 1 and Title. Dedicate each bullet point to one key feature that makes your product stand out from the crowd (or is often asked by customers). 

Think like this: most of your potential buyers are busy people. They have little time (and patience) before they decide to “Buy” a product, add it to “Save for later” or move on. So NO LONG BULLET POINTS! Make the 1 row (or 2 at most) of text for each bullet point. Have it starting with 2-4 words in CAPITAL LETTERS to announce what the rest of the point’s text is about. 

  • Competitive pricing. You’d be amazed at how many people care little about pics and texts if the price is higher than those of the competing products they see next to it. You would do well by studying your direct competing products and either a) making your price about the same or slightly cheaper or b) having an explicitly good reason to charge extra for your product (see above points on how to make that explicit to an Amazon buyer)

  • Reviews and stars. Probably the hardest thing to make good for any starting product. Especially with all the recent changes Amazon made to its algorithms that sniff out stimulated/ paid reviews. And even more precious because of it.

So yes – come heaven or hell – you need to have at least 7 reviews and at least 4.4 stars under your SKU’s belt BEFORE you attempt any PPC whatsoever. Better even 25+ reviews, as it’s another psychological threshold for most products.

  • Sufficient Stock. Believe it or not – Amazon algorithm checks how much stock you’ve got available before deciding on where to show your PPC Ad. So make sure you have enough to be selling for at least 1 month before launching your Campaign.

PART 2 – first step done right

Ok, so you feel confident that you’ve prepared your Product Detail Page to facilitate your New PPC Campaign. It’s time to do some research and make those PPC campaigns!

Let us spend a minute and recap why we, as Amazon Seller, want to have a Sponsored PPC campaign in the first place. This will help us to stick to our true goal as we move along. We want a solid Amazon PPC campaign:

  • To make extra sales. You actually sell more via PPC campaign itself. Surprisingly enough this might not always be the best way to use this instrument.

  • To Improve future organic sales. This can be achieved with Sponsored ad any other form of Amazon PPC by improving your ASIN’s keyword ranking on Amazon. Amazon’s A10 Algorithm will take note if customers interact with your listing after seeing it on SPECIFIC search results position. This allows you to use PPC to creep up the rank for those keywords that bring you good organic sales. Another factor A10 takes into consideration is your overall sales – and the respective BSR position of your product. A new product will have a low BSR (and thus will usually be shown below those with higher BSR for any given search term). Having more sales via effective (even if costly) PPC campaign impacts your BSR and help your product rank slightly better across ALL search terms.

  • To take advantage of weaker competing products. You do this by advertising next to them (on Product Detail Pages of selected competing ASINs). Heck – Amazon allows it? Then use it! Cause your competitors certainly will.

  • To expose your new brand to the market. Applicable to all White Label sellers and generic brands. It takes time and effort but brings results in the long run.

  • To defend against competitors predatoring your brand/ products.

Remember that at first, your PPC will likely cost you more than it’ll bring back. 

Hitting sales (volume @ good ACoS) with a new PPC right away is like sending a golf ball into a hole halfway across the field. You’re likely to need more than one swing to get it right.

So before you start working to create that solid PPC, you should really think this way:

Ok, how much can I invest in the PPC and LOSE ALL of it without much concern?


And this number is the budget for PPC you really should set. This will keep your mind at ease and let you remain flexible and patient when need be

Let’s get to the best part!

What do we need to research for a new PPC campaign to make that budget money work to the best of its potential?

Harvesting keywords (research)

Since you should be pretty damn familiar with your own product – you’d have little trouble finding the right first keywords that describe it (and its key features). 

For example, if you sell toy trucks its the “toy track”, “toys for …. y.o.”, “ N-piece toy car set” and similar keys you should start your search with. Amazon itself is the right place for gathering such keywords, as your competitors are very likely to be using them in their listings’ titles and bullet points. 

By browsing the pages 1-3 or Amazon search results on the first keywords, you should be able to harvest a substantial collection of additional highly relevant keywords – the very words your potential customers are using to look for your product. 

Aside from Amazon – free tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner can also give you extra ideas about keywords you might have missed out before. Just bear in mind that Amazon is about sales, while Google’s suggested top keywords may not necessarily be about purchasing your products, but merely about info on it (and those will not bring you much in the way of sales).

Also, there are some paid resources like Helium 10, JungleScout Merchant Words, etc. that will gladly provide you with a swift list Amazon Search Terms related to your keyword ideas.

And finally, there are custom-built instruments like the Profit Whales’ “Zero to Hero” that generates you a ready-to-use amazon bulk upload files with:

  • hundreds of relevant exact&broad keywords already grouped into Sponsored PPC Campaigns and ad groups for maximum control

  • ad groups with some of more obvious competitor/ complimentary ASINs 

  • Full set of automated campaigns, furnished with an extensive list of negative keywords, so they do not interfere with your exact campaigns

  • set bids, depending on the expected effectiveness of a given keywords. 

  • set daily budgets, based on a number of keywords and expected expenses.

Here is an example of the Semantic Core our software creates to crash the competition on Amazon:

old version

new version

To do this, we use a few numbers of 3rd party APIs and our own logical process that arrange keywords by their relevance, frequency, and perceived effectiveness in facilitating future sales. Ask our managers for more details – cause we still have a lot to cover in this article!

Whichever way you chose to go about it – you should end up with a list of potential keywords, ranged from “spot-on” to very loosely-related ones (e.g., keywords about complementary products, like “coffee beans” to “coffee machine”, “charcoal grill” to “BBQ spatula” etc.).

To make future navigation and working with this list easier – we suggest you sort your findings by some form of logic. For example:

  • Size-related keywords
  • Bundle-size related
  • User age-related
  • Brand keywords
  • Gift-related
  • etc.

After you’re done picking your future keywords (and possibly competitor ASINs) – remember to spend an extra 15 mins by actually typing each of your findings into the Amazon search console You want to do this to confirm to yourself that results are closely related to your products – and not something else (which happens quite often with Amazon).

Filling out the AMAZON PPC campaigns

How to run and manage amazon ppc campaigns?

With the keywords list ready, you now need to start filling in the AMAZON PPC campaign data.

As of beginning of 2020 – we believe that there are really only 4 types of PPC campaigns that work in a different manner to each other:

  • Exact keywords campaigns. These are your workhorses. Eventually these will do all the good things you expect from a decent PPC marketing.

  • Broad keywords campaigns. In our opinion – these are used NOT to drive your sales. Rather they are a convenient tool for Amazon system to provide you with real-life search terms and negative keywords (more on them later) – in exchange for your money. 

  • Product Page campaigns. Here you hit all the competing ASINs that you believe to be less cool than your products (and thus they can potentially leak some sales to your product instead)

  • Automated campaigns. With these, you let Amazon do some work for you and display your Sponsored listing where it sees fit. Works sometimes. Total waste of money in other times.

Now that we’re on the same song sheet with the names, here’s how we suggest going about filling each one of them when creating new campaigns.

Exact campaigns


Just as the name says – this is where you deposit all your keywords, sorted into some logical ad groups (see the example we’ve described earlier). 

As time passes, this structure will allow you to monitor keywords’ performance and adjust individual bids to find that ‘sweet spot’ where they generate most sales at a reasonable ACoS. Exact campaigns are also the place where you will add all the new effective search terms in the future.

Most of your PPC budget will be spent here. If you are unsure about what bids to assign to each keyword – see what Amazon’s suggested bids may be. Bear in mind, however, that in very competitive markets, the bids top sellers set for these keywords can be as much as higher “suggested bid” x3..x4  – to be shown on top of page 1 search results Sponsored ad position.

Set you starting bids at mid of suggested range if you believe your product to be generally the same as most others (which you should actively work against in the long term). 

Alternatively, you can immediately go for the higher than suggested bid  (e.g. х2) if you want to actively compete for top positions from get go. This may be a good marketing strategy if your customers prefer to shop on Amazon in a manner that does not employ long thinking, comparing, and decision making (i.e., products in Top of Search scoop most of the demand).

Any brand-related search terms will also end up in Exact campaign for obvious reasons. 

Broad campaigns


We suggest you make 2 Broad campaigns at the start of your new PPC campaign:

  • A temporary campaign that will contain only a few (if not just one) keywords that are depicting your product the best way. 

For example, if you were to sell laptops, it’ be something as broad as
a “ 13” laptop ”. 

Is it gonna be profitable? – Never. 

You will need this campaign in the first 1-2 weeks of your PPC to discover as many real-life Amazon search terms related to your product as possible. To save on money you may set as little as a $50/day budget on this one – and have it run for 7 days. We will discuss how to use its results in Part Three of this article.

  • A long-term campaign containing few product-related keywords with an EXTENSIVE negative keywords list.

    THAT INCLUDES all your exact keywords (!). This campaign will rear your marketing efforts and make sure you will not miss out on some long-tail search terms/ less obvious search terms that your Exact campaign does not yet cover.

    As with the broad temporary campaign – this one will also be a good source of more effective negative keywords.

As for the bids  – you should start with low bids (½ – ⅔ of bids you would assign to top Exact keywords in Exact campaigns).

Product Page Campaign

This campaign (if you have the time to spare for it), can help you leverage the failure of your competitors AND the success of complementary products’ sellers. Here’s how you make one

  • Finding competing ASINs for this campaign is easy enough: you pick some of your own top Exact keywords, type them in Amazon search console and pick your competitors on pages 1-5!

    The picking criteria are straightforward:
    1. Products with a higher price
    2. Products with fewer reviews than your ASIN
    3. Fewer stars than your ASIN (say your product currently has 4.4 star – so anything with 4.2 or less qualifies)

If a picked product fits all 3 (or even 2 out of 3) criteria – bang! 💥 You’ve got yourself a good free ride. Add its ASIN into your campaign.

N.B. Products with significantly more reviews, lower price and Amazon “valor” badges )like “Amazon’s Choice”) are generally a bad pick. You may even want to keep a separate list of these and have them as NEGATIVE ASINs for “Substitutes” automatic campaigns.

  • Finding complementary ASINs is a similar type-and-examine routine done via Amazon search as with competing ASINs. The only difference being that you want to pick the best and most top-selling complementary products to go with, as those themselves get lots of clicks and impressions. 

For example: on one occasion, our client had a fantastic 56 orders/week free ride on complimentary AmazonBasics (Amazon’s own brand) product. Neat!

  • Defensive ASIN campaigns. You should really add your OTHER products (if you have them of course) into the Product Page Campaign. This will leave a little less space for your stronger competitors to take advantage of your products and may give you a few extra cross-sales.

Automated campaigns

If you believe you will not have the time for managing your Amazon PPC, this may be an OK option for you. 

If you DO plan to MANAGE your PPC frequently – you may still make use of these, but with minimal budgets and bids + an extensive negative keyword list. Automated campaigns are the 3rd layer of marketing around your Exact and Broad campaigns: they are here to catch any stray buyers that went past the prior two. 

As you probably know there are 4 types of automated campaigns available for Sponsored Product PPC as of Feb 2020:

  • Substitutes (show in carousels on Product Detail Pages of similar products)
  • Close Match (basically your old automated, showing your ads on search result pages that seem appropriate to Amazon’s algorithm)
  • Loose Match (never worked properly for us, to be honest)
  • Complements (show in carousels on complementing products’ Product Detail Pages)

Some Amazon PPC recommendations suggest setting Automated campaigns’ bids as low as $0.05/click and limit budgets to $20/ day. This sounds about right to us.

Launching the prepared PPC Campaign

If you’ve done all (or most) of the above recommendations:

  • did your keyword research 
  • created different type PPC campaigns for all your products and 
  • set their budgets

you’re ready to go!

We suggest that you never wait till everything is perfected. 

The campaigns you (or anybody for that matter) have created are NOT perfect – and they shouldn’t be. It is the real-life running of these campaigns and constant optimization over and over again that will make them good enough. At the time they will start to generate your sales and eventually bring profit. So never hesitate at the start – and hit that “launch button” right away. It is at this moment that the REAL work begins!

PART 3 – Polishing the PPC Rocket

AMAZON PPC Rocket

“A mistake often made by inexperienced or indecisive Amazon businesses is LOOKING at your PPC Campaign and trying to OPTIMIZE it too soon and too often.”

Vitalii Khyzhniak
Amazon Advertising Expert

The urge to do this is usually driven either by anxiety – or fear of losing out on your marketing budget. 

But a seasoned Amazon PPC Manager will always resist this “I-must-do-something!” urge, cause this IS a grave mistake when it comes to advertising on Amazon. Here’s why:

Amazon’s data attribution lag

Any sales data on Amazon is lagging behind real-time events by some margin. A purchase made off your PPC ad can be registered many user’s iterations after she has actually clicked your Sponsored Ad. Amazon’s attribution system is good enough to track back all user’s actions and eventually conclude if there was a conversion from a particular Campaign/Ad Group/Keyword or not. But it isn’t fast. 

Even Amazon’s own Business Reports are lagging 1 or 2 days behind any current date. In some cases, a conversion can take up to 29 days to attribute (although by day 3, most sales attributions are performed correctly). 

Amazon’s algorithm inertia

This one is simple: the A10 algorithm (like all before it) takes HUNDREDS of factors into account when deciding where to place your Sponsored Ad for any given customer’s search results. Some of those factors are cross-dependent. Some are taken by the algorithm as a real-time value, while others – as a cumulative average. The latter can take time to gain momentum after a changes you’ve made to your campaign or listing (CTR, for example). 

Let’s imagine you’ve increased a bid for a high-volume keyword. This means that Amazon’s algo will now start to show your Sponsored ad at a new higher position (if other factors allow for it), and see how customers react to it. IF customers’ reaction to your Sponsored ad in a new is positive (you get good CTR and conversions from this new position) – the algo will start showing your ad higher up more often. Some changes (like adding a relevant keyword to your product’s title) can take days or even weeks to settle and take full effect in this intricate system.

So how does this affect us as Amazon PPC Managers? 

As there isn’t much point in pulling on the grass for it to grow faster – there isn’t much point in frequent changes to your PPC ads. You should really refrain from doing anything (unless you see some crazy-bad things, like keywords with 200% ACoS selling 5+ items already) – until at least 7 full days have passed.

With this critical manager’s mistake out of the way, lets now see how a manager should go about optimizing his/her Amazon PPC Campaigns.

Working with Search Term Report to get Good and Bad keywords

Good and Bad keywords reports

Campaigns (especially the Broad type) drive all manner of clicks and results. Ceteris paribus they are a good source of valuable real-life feedback from your real customers about the quality of your PPC Campaigns. 

You should get REALLY familiar with the Search Term Report (if you aren’t already) to make your first money spent on ads work well for you – even if they did not bring you many sales:

a) Collect negative keywords 

At the beginning of any PPC campaign, you WILL get some poor performing keywords. Browsing through the Search Term Report will help you identify those. There are 2 kinds of them:

  • Keywords that have 10+ clicks and NO sales. 
    These are likely to either bring you 0 or little sales in the future
  • Keywords with ACoS over 80% AND 3+ sales (for any given period). 
    These will likely keep generating you sales, yes – but for some reason, they are not very relevant, and customers keep leaving your listing more often than buying. This makes them too expensive to work with.

In both cases, you should assume that these poor performing keywords are BAD for your CURRENT listing (this may or may not change in future). They should be stopped from showing your PPC in the future. You do this by adding them to the Negative Keywords on the campaign level.

Sometimes there can be a specific poor-performing query that is only relevant to a SINGLE Ad Group. For example, you sell “body laser thermometers,” and you have an Ad Group “For Babies” – for whom you want to exclude theany search terms with “for the bath” – because they get you too costly conversions. In this case add those to Negative Keywords of that particular Ad Group.

b) Collect negative ASINs

The idea here is the same as with negative keywords. 

Some of your Automated campaigns are built to generate your clicks by showing you ads next to competing products. However, if your product is perceived as inferior compared to target ASIN product – you will get little-to-no sales in the end. 

So use the same logic as with poor-performing keywords: run Search Term Report and add these poor-performing ASINs to a Negative Product Targeting for Ad Groups in question.

c) Collect GOOD search terms and turn them into keywords

Use the Search Term Report to identify good-performing keywords (that are not yet part of your campaigns). 

You can safely assume that a search term is GOOD if it brought you sales at ACoS below 50% AND made 2+ sales over any given period.

Take all such good performing keywords and add them to your Exact Campaign for further testing. 

Make sure your bids for these new words are sufficient to show them at positions high enough to actually start getting clicks (preferable above middle of page 2, but definitely above page 5). Oh, and don’t’ forget to add them to NEGATIVE keywords of your Broad and Automated campaigns too (as “exact negative”) to make sure you have full control over them.

N.B. Some of the new effective keywords you discover via the Search Term Report may turn out to be a surprise. If they will keep generating you sales – make sure that you update section of your Product Detail Page (title/ bullet points/ description/ backend keywords) to include these new terms and give your ASIN a boost at ranking on them organically.

d) Collect good competitor/ complimentary ASINs

This is about ASINs (that are not yet part of your campaigns) that generate you good sales at low cost, according to the Search Term Reports. We trust that by now you’ve already figured out what to do with them on your own.

How often should you run Search Term Report optimisation?

Ideally it should be examined in the above manner every 7-10 days for the 1st month of your PPC campaign. This is to cut irrelevant clicks and Collect the most effective keywords as soon as possible.

For a seasoned campaign this procedure should be repeated about once every month.

Working the bids

Working the bid keywords

Adjusting keyword bids is the bulk of your optimization work. 

The more mature your PPC campaign becomes – the more it’s up to THIS part of your optimization process to generate you good sales at a reasonable cost.

Whenever thinking about bids and search results positioning of you Sponsored ads – you should always remember about the NATURE of your product. And think about how your customers are going through a decision making cycle before buying it. This will impact where you want your Sponsored Ads to be shown so to sell most effectively. 

For example: customers looking for a new coffee machine will likely browse more options before deciding which one to buy. Hence showing on the 1st position of Page 1 search results is not the key to winning customer’s attention. At the same time when a customer is buying something mundane, like a nail clipper for her a cat – is a quick decision process and being near the top of Page 1 for this product makes all the difference in the world for a successful sale. 

A good idea about how important is to be on Top of Search for your particular product can be derived from Amazon PPC Product Placement tab: if you see that your ads’ CTR for Top of Search is significantly higher that in Rest of Search and Product Pages (e.g., 5% vs 0.3% or even 1%) – than you market IS likely to favor products at the very Top of Search. 

Regular Checkups

Whatever your market is – there’s a rule of thumb of what you should do every time you look at your keywords (be it weekly or monthly data) to keep your PPC campaigns healthy:

  • Look for keywords that perform poorly. Unless they are SPECIAL for your given Strategy (which we will discuss a bit later), you should always take action with them. There are two ways to go about it:

  • If a keyword/ASIN had 10+ clicks (15+ if a keyword seems extremely relevant) and 0 sales – pause these.

  • If a keywords/ASIN has generated you enough sales (3+) and it’s ACoS is above 80% – you should pause it too. It’s unlikely you can make it profitable for your PPC. These keywords can be SPECIAL, so your strategy may actually need them to continue to run, but if it does not – pause them without hesitation.

  • If a keywords/ASIN generated you 3+ sales (over a given period), but it’s ACoS is between you break even ACoS (for most Sellers on Amazon this is between 20% and 40%) – then decrease its bid by the same amount as you want that ACoS % to drop. 

For example: if your bid was $3.15, your break-even ACoS is 30% and the real-life ACoS turned out 72% – make the new bid = 3.15*(30/72) = $1,3. Yes, this will drop your search result position way below what it was – but over time, you may find that this position still generates you some sales and at a much more reasonable ACoS.

  • If your keyword generated you 1+ sale at ACoS below your break-even – you should test if this keyword can generate you more sales if you increase the bid. Test it up until the break-even ACoS and react accordingly. Bear in mind that by “sales” we mean different things for different Strategies!

  • Finally, you will likely see some keywords with a high (100+) impression for a period – but low or no clicks. Run a quick manual check to confirm if these are relevant to your product (via Amazon’s search console). If they are not – pause them, just to be on the safe side. If they are, however – you may want to raise your bids slightly to start getting some real clicks (and hopefully some real sales too).

    This way, you will eventually understand if such keywords are suitable for your Exact campaign or not.

Marketing Strategy and PPC Optimization

Amazon marketing Strategy and PPC Optimization

Effective PPC optimization can’t be done without deciding on what Marketing Strategy you want to execute (in the long run) for your product. Your bidding efforts will be different for every option. Here are the Strategies we tend to differentiate:

Launch Strategy

If this is the first time you’ve launched an Amazon PPC campaign for your product – and the product itself wasn’t selling on Amazon for too long – then you need to find and fight for your place amongst competitors in search results. 

This is how we at Profit Whales go about such task:

  • Bid high enough on brand-related keywords (if you are selling a branded product). This is primarily a defensive strategy to make sure no competitor is getting sales off people looking for your brand by showing his/her product to them BEFORE they see yours. The bids here depend on a single unit’s price, of course – but we have rarely seen any competitor paying over $1.5/ click on any competing brand.

  • Choose your Strategy-SPECIAL keywords and work them in groups. As there may be a lot of keywords relevant to your product – it may be expensive to bid high on all of them. So instead, you may want to identify a particular group of relevant keywords and bid aggressively on those to gain as high a position in search result as Amazon will let you. For example, you sell dog’s collars, and you have initially bid $1.75 on all Exact keywords. After seeing first Search Term Reports, you identify that the “small dog collar” keywords group is having a better CTR and lower ACoS (even if it’s still too high!) than your other keywords. And you see your own Sponsored Ads appear somewhere between pages 3 and 4 of search results on this group’s search results (by checking them manually in search results). Good! Now you can try and increase bids on all “small dog collar” keywords up to $2.30 – and give it a week to see if these SPECIAL keywords start performing even better. 

  • Test every such group separately for optimal bid levels. 

By following this Strategy, you can spend a reasonable amount of money and still project enough PPC power to climb up the search result with some relevant and good-performing keywords, testing all of them group by group. 

This strategy also fits well with those PPC managers who seem to be unable to break through the “brand-related only” PPC barrier, where the only keywords that generate sales at a reasonable ACoS seem to be only those that contain the brand name of the product.

Optimal PPC Profit Strategy

This is a Strategy for those managers who have run their PPC campaigns for some time now. We assume you’ve successfully identified most of the good-performing keywords/ASIN and paused/negatived all the poorly-performing ones. Now it’s time to make them work for YOU!

  • Even if a keyword generates your sales – it may be doing so not in a most effective manner yet. Look at the position your Sponsored Ad gets with this keyword’s search results right now. It’s not in the first half of Page 1 (especially for Top Of Search massive markets) – try increasing its bid slightly to see if it performs even better from being slightly higher up. Obviously, your bid should not be so high that you jump over the break-even ACoS. This experiment may have two outcomes:

    • A keywords/ASIN IS generating more sales from a higher bid. The new ACoS is still reasonable. In this case – keep increasing the bid slightly every week until you reach the top line of your comfortable ACoS to generate more sales. If you find your Sponsored ad are at the top position of search results Page 1 – do not be afraid of losing out on too high a bid: by default Amazon’s algorithm will be charging you only 1 cent above what it charges the second-best bidder.
    • The keyword no longer generates you more sales, regardless of bid increase. This can be for several reasons – but primarily is because Amazon’s algorithm is not letting your ad higher up the search results (cause the criteria OTHER THAN THE bid are insufficient). If this happens – take it as an indication that you need to work more on your listing (you review, convertibility, having keywords mentioned in the listing itself, having too low BSR, etc.) and leave your bid as it was.

  • For keywords that generate your sales, but do so at ACoS close or somewhat over your break-even (not by a lot) – try decreasing the bids slightly. This can sound counter-intuitive, but a keyword might generate your sales at a much lower ACoS that you have now (say it can make you 8 sales/month at 6% ACoS as opposed to 27 sales at 40%). What this optimization will do – is free up the marketing budget to experiment more with other keywords that may bring you extra sales if pushed up a little.

In this manner, you should be continuously testing all your selling keywords for equilibrium bids, where you get must band for your buck cross all the Campaign and not just a few well-performing keywords.

Aggressive Push Strategy

This is an expensive way to drill your way through Amazon’s competition. Mostly you want to bid so high on your high-volume and good-performing (or potentially-good-performing) keywords to push the competitors out of the way and teach Amazon’s algorithm to rank you as high up as possible across all these search results.

This can be a temporary or a short-term goal: you may want to claim the top-3 of Page 1 position indefinitely – or you may wish to do so briefly, just before some massive sales even (Prime Day, for instance). 

To get the most out of this Strategy this is what you with your bids :

  • Increase your PPC budget. Believe it or not – even with the same bids (and NOT spending your full budget on them!) Amazon’s algorithm can sometimes show your Sponsored ads more often than it did before if you double or triple your advertising budget. This sounds irrational, but that is something we’ve noticed to work with Amazon.

  • Bid aggressively to improve your keywords’ ranking and your product’s BSR. Use 3rd party services to see the rank of your all high-performing keywords. Or do so by typing in search queries manually – it doesn’t matter how. But you must make sure that you claim as high search result position as possible – and stay there for at least 3 weeks. This is the time that we have deducted Amazon’s algorithm needs to settle in with a new keyword’s rank for any particular ASIN. You are likely to do this at ACoS well above your break-even, but it’s OK for this Strategy, because:

  • You should look at both your PPC AND Organic sales when examining if the strategy is being productive. After all – healthy organic sales at any new position are likely to generate you 3-4 sales per 1 PPC sale. If this total number of new organic sales makes you extra-expensive PPC campaign worth it – you’re on the right track!

  • As you stimulate more PPC sales with an Aggressive Strategy, your BSR will be increasing. Thus enabling Amazon’s algorithm to show your ASIN higher up across ALL search results. Real sales are worth A LOT in the eyes of the algorithm.

  • If you know that getting to the very Top of Search results with a few very best keywords (and pushing your competitors below) will generate you significantly more sales – you can switch your Campaign Bidding Strategy selector from the default “Dynamic bids – down only” to a very aggressive “Fixed bids“. This is a costly and very dangerous way to go. Still, if for some reason Amazon’s algorithm does not allow you to show higher up regardless of your bids (you can see this if your CPC value is way lower than your bid) – this is how you can attempt to break through and gain even higher search result position. 

Only an excellent Product Detail Page can sustain this approach and keep the whole PPC profitable. You should really not use it for anything beyond 3 weeks, as it is unlikely to be profitable even on a best-case scenario – but it may help you to “fix” in a higher search result position once you return you bidding strategy to the standard “Dynamic bids – down only”

Remember! The goal of any Aggressive Strategy is to gain new placement and teach Amazon’s algorithm that your product IS worth showing more often to Amazon’s customers on it. Yes – Amazon officially states that all the customers shopping for your product on Amazon are not yours – they’re THEIRS. And this is precisely why at some point, you need to plan to STOP your Aggressive Strategy and start ripping the fruits of your work. 

The first indicator of equilibrium (that is, the organic sales are no longer stimulated by current PPC efforts) is when your PPC sales account for 20-40% of your total sales. And if the situation remains this way for 3+ weeks – it is now time to settle down. Revise your ACoS. Bid down all keywords that have ACoS higher than your optimal (usually the break-even) level. 

Your organic sales will also drop somewhat over time – but still, if that new equilibrium level (with reasonable ACoS) of your total sales (with reasonable ACoS) is more than what you were selling at the beginning of Aggressive Push Strategy – congratulations: you did it right! 

Profit Whales has been successfully optimizing Amazon PPC campaigns for our big and small Brands for over 3 years. Over this period, we’ve gained knowledge about the inner working of Amazon. 

In fact, we went so far to digitalize our expertise and create a simple to use Optimisation tool that helps Amazon Sellers to do routine Amazon PPC Optimisation tasks via a completely automated process. 

All our clients have to do is choose a Strategy that our Optimisation tool will implement on a real-time basis in their PPC campaigns. 

Yes, even the smartest or Neural Networks can’t yet replace a fully seasoned professional PPC management team. But it can certainly take the PPC optimization off the shoulders of a small or medium Amazon Seller – and deliver good enough results to be well worth its money. See our Profit Whales website for details (you can test it with a 14-day trial).

Is there a stop to PPC Optimisation?

All the above work is, of course, crucial for your Amazon PPC Campaigns to help you achieve your Business Goals. 

But is there a point at which you can look at what you already did and say, “That’s it! My PPCs are as good as they come. I can’t really optimize it any further”. 

Well, actually, YES!

Given all other things equal, there is a point where further improvement (looking for new keywords, new negatives, looking for bid’s sweet spots for a given Strategy, etc.) will not be worth extra time you spend on it. If you arrive at this state – you are really left with mostly monitoring the performance of your PPC campaigns. And being ready to intervene in case things STOP being equal. Usually, this eventually happens because of 2 things:

  • Seasonality. If your product is highly seasonal – you will have High Season and Low-season periods. At these periods all your will typically competitors increase/ decrease their bids en masse. So be sure to follow the flow and adjust your bids accordingly to retain the rank (position) amongst them. You may find it useful to SAVE your well-working PPC campaign setting (as a bulk file) for every high and low season – and upload them whenever the time comes, to save you on the repetitive routing work on those temperamental bids.

  • Aggressive competitors. Every now and then, old or new competitors will try and overtake the listing by investing heavily in advertising (not necessarily via Amazon PPC). Since good sales are one of the top parameters Amazon’s algorithm is considering when placing a product on search results – such a change will send ripples across all the listings. And it will disturb the equilibrium you’ve worked hard to achieve. 

So, in reality, there is no long-term stability in the PPC. 

There are periods when you can relax and let your hard work pay for itself – and other periods when you need to kick in those optimization routines again – and make sure you keep what you’ve gained. 

But this is what makes it all so interesting to do, isn’t it?

free content

We like that you read a lot!

This Blog Post is for Profit Whales members only. Unlock the rest of this page:

Amazon PPC Checklist

Actionable Amazon PPC Checklist For Amazon Sellers

25 min to read
Victor Tolok

by Victor Tolok

Creative Content Creator

“Does your Amazon PPC make you money? Or does it soak up the budget and give little in return?”

Ihor Dubovetskyi
CEO of Profit Whales

Are you struggling against larger competitors who dominate Page 1 or search results? Or is it that your brand campaigns are the ONLY genuinely profitable Amazon PPC tool?

Make sure to give our Checklist a go and see if you can rally enough quality in your Amazon PPC campaigns to move your sales forward!


Can an FBA Seller be a successful Amazon and not spend a penny on Amazon PPC advertising?
Well, yes.

Can this Seller do so without spending ANY money on advertising ANYWHERE?
Probably not.

The Google Ads, Facebook & Instagram, YouTube vloggers, published online articles, and even offline advertising – are all known to generate good sales on Amazon for all manner of goods and services. Amazon PPC is just another source of qualified leads that can generate your sales.

So, by all means, do try out different eCommerce marketing tactics – and see which is best for you.

We will provide you with a sound checklist (and some logic behind it) that we believe the key for those of you who want to use Amazon PPC as a primary marketing tool.

What does Amazon PPC really do?

  • For Amazon
    – it’s about earning some extra buck off Amazon Sellers. Also, it’s a kind of qualifier for the Amazon algorithm that tells it how serious a seller is about his/her business on the Amazon platform. 

  • For the Seller
    – it’s about pushing their product onto the market. Being shown on the little precious selling real estate Amazon platform provides (up to 60% of all Amazon purchases in 2019 came from Search Page 1). It’s also probably the only direct way Amazon provides for a new product to make itself visible amongst more established brands and products. Finally – the Search Term Reports are the only legitimate way Amazon actually lets you see what customers type in search console when browsing for your product. This vital info is not readily available from Amazon – and to get it is costing you money via the PPC. Sad but true! 

Amazon PPC is a tradeoff between spending some money on marketing and receiving a lot more in extra sales. 

So let us dive deeper into how to make & run Amazon PPC as controlled and profitable as genuinely possible.

PART 1 — Amazon Product Listing Optimization

There is some serious (and often neglected) work needed to be done before even creating your first Amazon PPC campaign.

When preparations are done correctly, Amazon ads WILL drive your sales in almost any circumstances: either on its own (with profitably-low ACoS) or by enhancing your top organic keywords’ ranking faster, that it would’ve evolved naturally (thus justifying even too-high ACoS).

What Amazon PPC will NOT do – is be your “lifewest” when your product and/or listing is sub-par in the eyes of your customers:

  • Low perceived quality
  • Bad photos or info, 
  • Too few reviews and too low Stars
  • Too high a price (compared to the competing products)
  • Etc.

Spending little time on perfecting your Product Detail Page before pouring money into the PPC campaign will result in your LOSING money with Amazon. This will happen, no matter how good your PPC campaign is.

So how do we prepare our product listing before launching the PPC?

Amazon Product Listing Optimization

In truth, there are dozens of useful articles on the Internet on what makes a good Product Detail Page. They will tell you all about how to make a Top-of-Search listing with CTR of 2-5% or higher and convert above 10%. Let’s very briefly recap some of those:

  • Have a solid Picture 1 (and other pictures). Why? Since Amazon is an ONLINE platform, most of your customers probably would never have used or even seen your specific product before. They will use their eyes to tell if it’s what they’re looking for – or should they jump to the next offer. So do all you can to be an eye-candy! To catch their attention with that picture and have them click on it…

  • Clear, readable title text. Why? Knowing how your customers think and what they look for in your product in the first place – is a must. This will allow you to create a captivating title that will draw relevant clicks. For example: if you were to sell a laptop – you would do well to mention its brand and screen size first, as opposed to SSD volume or how many USB ports it has. First things first. And the very first thing should be in that title! 

  • Bullet points. Have the most brilliant and penetrating selling points about your product be in bullet points, waiting for those customers who liked your Pic 1 and Title. Dedicate each bullet point to one key feature that makes your product stand out from the crowd (or is often asked by customers). 

Think like this: most of your potential buyers are busy people. They have little time (and patience) before they decide to “Buy” a product, add it to “Save for later” or move on. So NO LONG BULLET POINTS! Make the 1 row (or 2 at most) of text for each bullet point. Have it starting with 2-4 words in CAPITAL LETTERS to announce what the rest of the point’s text is about. 

  • Competitive pricing. You’d be amazed at how many people care little about pics and texts if the price is higher than those of the competing products they see next to it. You would do well by studying your direct competing products and either a) making your price about the same or slightly cheaper or b) having an explicitly good reason to charge extra for your product (see above points on how to make that explicit to an Amazon buyer)

  • Reviews and stars. Probably the hardest thing to make good for any starting product. Especially with all the recent changes Amazon made to its algorithms that sniff out stimulated/ paid reviews. And even more precious because of it.

So yes – come heaven or hell – you need to have at least 7 reviews and at least 4.4 stars under your SKU’s belt BEFORE you attempt any PPC whatsoever. Better even 25+ reviews, as it’s another psychological threshold for most products.

  • Sufficient Stock. Believe it or not – Amazon algorithm checks how much stock you’ve got available before deciding on where to show your PPC Ad. So make sure you have enough to be selling for at least 1 month before launching your Campaign.

PART 2 – first step done right

Ok, so you feel confident that you’ve prepared your Product Detail Page to facilitate your New PPC Campaign. It’s time to do some research and make those PPC campaigns!

Let us spend a minute and recap why we, as Amazon Seller, want to have a Sponsored PPC campaign in the first place. This will help us to stick to our true goal as we move along. We want a solid Amazon PPC campaign:

  • To make extra sales. You actually sell more via PPC campaign itself. Surprisingly enough this might not always be the best way to use this instrument.

  • To Improve future organic sales. This can be achieved with Sponsored ad any other form of Amazon PPC by improving your ASIN’s keyword ranking on Amazon. Amazon’s A10 Algorithm will take note if customers interact with your listing after seeing it on SPECIFIC search results position. This allows you to use PPC to creep up the rank for those keywords that bring you good organic sales. Another factor A10 takes into consideration is your overall sales – and the respective BSR position of your product. A new product will have a low BSR (and thus will usually be shown below those with higher BSR for any given search term). Having more sales via effective (even if costly) PPC campaign impacts your BSR and help your product rank slightly better across ALL search terms.

  • To take advantage of weaker competing products. You do this by advertising next to them (on Product Detail Pages of selected competing ASINs). Heck – Amazon allows it? Then use it! Cause your competitors certainly will.

  • To expose your new brand to the market. Applicable to all White Label sellers and generic brands. It takes time and effort but brings results in the long run.

  • To defend against competitors predatoring your brand/ products.

Remember that at first, your PPC will likely cost you more than it’ll bring back. 

Hitting sales (volume @ good ACoS) with a new PPC right away is like sending a golf ball into a hole halfway across the field. You’re likely to need more than one swing to get it right.

So before you start working to create that solid PPC, you should really think this way:

Ok, how much can I invest in the PPC and LOSE ALL of it without much concern?


And this number is the budget for PPC you really should set. This will keep your mind at ease and let you remain flexible and patient when need be

Let’s get to the best part!

What do we need to research for a new PPC campaign to make that budget money work to the best of its potential?

Harvesting keywords (research)

Since you should be pretty damn familiar with your own product – you’d have little trouble finding the right first keywords that describe it (and its key features). 

For example, if you sell toy trucks its the “toy track”, “toys for …. y.o.”, “ N-piece toy car set” and similar keys you should start your search with. Amazon itself is the right place for gathering such keywords, as your competitors are very likely to be using them in their listings’ titles and bullet points. 

By browsing the pages 1-3 or Amazon search results on the first keywords, you should be able to harvest a substantial collection of additional highly relevant keywords – the very words your potential customers are using to look for your product. 

Aside from Amazon – free tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner can also give you extra ideas about keywords you might have missed out before. Just bear in mind that Amazon is about sales, while Google’s suggested top keywords may not necessarily be about purchasing your products, but merely about info on it (and those will not bring you much in the way of sales).

Also, there are some paid resources like Helium 10, JungleScout Merchant Words, etc. that will gladly provide you with a swift list Amazon Search Terms related to your keyword ideas.

And finally, there are custom-built instruments like the Profit Whales’ “Zero to Hero” that generates you a ready-to-use amazon bulk upload files with:

  • hundreds of relevant exact&broad keywords already grouped into Sponsored PPC Campaigns and ad groups for maximum control

  • ad groups with some of more obvious competitor/ complimentary ASINs 

  • Full set of automated campaigns, furnished with an extensive list of negative keywords, so they do not interfere with your exact campaigns

  • set bids, depending on the expected effectiveness of a given keywords. 

  • set daily budgets, based on a number of keywords and expected expenses.

Here is an example of the Semantic Core our software creates to crash the competition on Amazon:

old version

new version

To do this, we use a few numbers of 3rd party APIs and our own logical process that arrange keywords by their relevance, frequency, and perceived effectiveness in facilitating future sales. Ask our managers for more details – cause we still have a lot to cover in this article!

Whichever way you chose to go about it – you should end up with a list of potential keywords, ranged from “spot-on” to very loosely-related ones (e.g., keywords about complementary products, like “coffee beans” to “coffee machine”, “charcoal grill” to “BBQ spatula” etc.).

To make future navigation and working with this list easier – we suggest you sort your findings by some form of logic. For example:

  • Size-related keywords
  • Bundle-size related
  • User age-related
  • Brand keywords
  • Gift-related
  • etc.

After you’re done picking your future keywords (and possibly competitor ASINs) – remember to spend an extra 15 mins by actually typing each of your findings into the Amazon search console You want to do this to confirm to yourself that results are closely related to your products – and not something else (which happens quite often with Amazon).

Filling out the AMAZON PPC campaigns

How to run and manage amazon ppc campaigns?

With the keywords list ready, you now need to start filling in the AMAZON PPC campaign data.

As of beginning of 2020 – we believe that there are really only 4 types of PPC campaigns that work in a different manner to each other:

  • Exact keywords campaigns. These are your workhorses. Eventually these will do all the good things you expect from a decent PPC marketing.

  • Broad keywords campaigns. In our opinion – these are used NOT to drive your sales. Rather they are a convenient tool for Amazon system to provide you with real-life search terms and negative keywords (more on them later) – in exchange for your money. 

  • Product Page campaigns. Here you hit all the competing ASINs that you believe to be less cool than your products (and thus they can potentially leak some sales to your product instead)

  • Automated campaigns. With these, you let Amazon do some work for you and display your Sponsored listing where it sees fit. Works sometimes. Total waste of money in other times.

Now that we’re on the same song sheet with the names, here’s how we suggest going about filling each one of them when creating new campaigns.

Exact campaigns


Just as the name says – this is where you deposit all your keywords, sorted into some logical ad groups (see the example we’ve described earlier). 

As time passes, this structure will allow you to monitor keywords’ performance and adjust individual bids to find that ‘sweet spot’ where they generate most sales at a reasonable ACoS. Exact campaigns are also the place where you will add all the new effective search terms in the future.

Most of your PPC budget will be spent here. If you are unsure about what bids to assign to each keyword – see what Amazon’s suggested bids may be. Bear in mind, however, that in very competitive markets, the bids top sellers set for these keywords can be as much as higher “suggested bid” x3..x4  – to be shown on top of page 1 search results Sponsored ad position.

Set you starting bids at mid of suggested range if you believe your product to be generally the same as most others (which you should actively work against in the long term). 

Alternatively, you can immediately go for the higher than suggested bid  (e.g. х2) if you want to actively compete for top positions from get go. This may be a good marketing strategy if your customers prefer to shop on Amazon in a manner that does not employ long thinking, comparing, and decision making (i.e., products in Top of Search scoop most of the demand).

Any brand-related search terms will also end up in Exact campaign for obvious reasons. 

Broad campaigns


We suggest you make 2 Broad campaigns at the start of your new PPC campaign:

  • A temporary campaign that will contain only a few (if not just one) keywords that are depicting your product the best way. 

For example, if you were to sell laptops, it’ be something as broad as
a “ 13” laptop ”. 

Is it gonna be profitable? – Never. 

You will need this campaign in the first 1-2 weeks of your PPC to discover as many real-life Amazon search terms related to your product as possible. To save on money you may set as little as a $50/day budget on this one – and have it run for 7 days. We will discuss how to use its results in Part Three of this article.

  • A long-term campaign containing few product-related keywords with an EXTENSIVE negative keywords list.

    THAT INCLUDES all your exact keywords (!). This campaign will rear your marketing efforts and make sure you will not miss out on some long-tail search terms/ less obvious search terms that your Exact campaign does not yet cover.

    As with the broad temporary campaign – this one will also be a good source of more effective negative keywords.

As for the bids  – you should start with low bids (½ – ⅔ of bids you would assign to top Exact keywords in Exact campaigns).

Product Page Campaign

This campaign (if you have the time to spare for it), can help you leverage the failure of your competitors AND the success of complementary products’ sellers. Here’s how you make one

  • Finding competing ASINs for this campaign is easy enough: you pick some of your own top Exact keywords, type them in Amazon search console and pick your competitors on pages 1-5!

    The picking criteria are straightforward:
    1. Products with a higher price
    2. Products with fewer reviews than your ASIN
    3. Fewer stars than your ASIN (say your product currently has 4.4 star – so anything with 4.2 or less qualifies)

If a picked product fits all 3 (or even 2 out of 3) criteria – bang! 💥 You’ve got yourself a good free ride. Add its ASIN into your campaign.

N.B. Products with significantly more reviews, lower price and Amazon “valor” badges )like “Amazon’s Choice”) are generally a bad pick. You may even want to keep a separate list of these and have them as NEGATIVE ASINs for “Substitutes” automatic campaigns.

  • Finding complementary ASINs is a similar type-and-examine routine done via Amazon search as with competing ASINs. The only difference being that you want to pick the best and most top-selling complementary products to go with, as those themselves get lots of clicks and impressions. 

For example: on one occasion, our client had a fantastic 56 orders/week free ride on complimentary AmazonBasics (Amazon’s own brand) product. Neat!

  • Defensive ASIN campaigns. You should really add your OTHER products (if you have them of course) into the Product Page Campaign. This will leave a little less space for your stronger competitors to take advantage of your products and may give you a few extra cross-sales.

Automated campaigns

If you believe you will not have the time for managing your Amazon PPC, this may be an OK option for you. 

If you DO plan to MANAGE your PPC frequently – you may still make use of these, but with minimal budgets and bids + an extensive negative keyword list. Automated campaigns are the 3rd layer of marketing around your Exact and Broad campaigns: they are here to catch any stray buyers that went past the prior two. 

As you probably know there are 4 types of automated campaigns available for Sponsored Product PPC as of Feb 2020:

  • Substitutes (show in carousels on Product Detail Pages of similar products)
  • Close Match (basically your old automated, showing your ads on search result pages that seem appropriate to Amazon’s algorithm)
  • Loose Match (never worked properly for us, to be honest)
  • Complements (show in carousels on complementing products’ Product Detail Pages)

Some Amazon PPC recommendations suggest setting Automated campaigns’ bids as low as $0.05/click and limit budgets to $20/ day. This sounds about right to us.

Launching the prepared PPC Campaign

If you’ve done all (or most) of the above recommendations:

  • did your keyword research 
  • created different type PPC campaigns for all your products and 
  • set their budgets

you’re ready to go!

We suggest that you never wait till everything is perfected. 

The campaigns you (or anybody for that matter) have created are NOT perfect – and they shouldn’t be. It is the real-life running of these campaigns and constant optimization over and over again that will make them good enough. At the time they will start to generate your sales and eventually bring profit. So never hesitate at the start – and hit that “launch button” right away. It is at this moment that the REAL work begins!

PART 3 – Polishing the PPC Rocket

AMAZON PPC Rocket

“A mistake often made by inexperienced or indecisive Amazon businesses is LOOKING at your PPC Campaign and trying to OPTIMIZE it too soon and too often.”

Vitalii Khyzhniak
Amazon Advertising Expert

The urge to do this is usually driven either by anxiety – or fear of losing out on your marketing budget. 

But a seasoned Amazon PPC Manager will always resist this “I-must-do-something!” urge, cause this IS a grave mistake when it comes to advertising on Amazon. Here’s why:

Amazon’s data attribution lag

Any sales data on Amazon is lagging behind real-time events by some margin. A purchase made off your PPC ad can be registered many user’s iterations after she has actually clicked your Sponsored Ad. Amazon’s attribution system is good enough to track back all user’s actions and eventually conclude if there was a conversion from a particular Campaign/Ad Group/Keyword or not. But it isn’t fast. 

Even Amazon’s own Business Reports are lagging 1 or 2 days behind any current date. In some cases, a conversion can take up to 29 days to attribute (although by day 3, most sales attributions are performed correctly). 

Amazon’s algorithm inertia

This one is simple: the A10 algorithm (like all before it) takes HUNDREDS of factors into account when deciding where to place your Sponsored Ad for any given customer’s search results. Some of those factors are cross-dependent. Some are taken by the algorithm as a real-time value, while others – as a cumulative average. The latter can take time to gain momentum after a changes you’ve made to your campaign or listing (CTR, for example). 

Let’s imagine you’ve increased a bid for a high-volume keyword. This means that Amazon’s algo will now start to show your Sponsored ad at a new higher position (if other factors allow for it), and see how customers react to it. IF customers’ reaction to your Sponsored ad in a new is positive (you get good CTR and conversions from this new position) – the algo will start showing your ad higher up more often. Some changes (like adding a relevant keyword to your product’s title) can take days or even weeks to settle and take full effect in this intricate system.

So how does this affect us as Amazon PPC Managers? 

As there isn’t much point in pulling on the grass for it to grow faster – there isn’t much point in frequent changes to your PPC ads. You should really refrain from doing anything (unless you see some crazy-bad things, like keywords with 200% ACoS selling 5+ items already) – until at least 7 full days have passed.

With this critical manager’s mistake out of the way, lets now see how a manager should go about optimizing his/her Amazon PPC Campaigns.

Working with Search Term Report to get Good and Bad keywords

Good and Bad keywords reports

Campaigns (especially the Broad type) drive all manner of clicks and results. Ceteris paribus they are a good source of valuable real-life feedback from your real customers about the quality of your PPC Campaigns. 

You should get REALLY familiar with the Search Term Report (if you aren’t already) to make your first money spent on ads work well for you – even if they did not bring you many sales:

a) Collect negative keywords 

At the beginning of any PPC campaign, you WILL get some poor performing keywords. Browsing through the Search Term Report will help you identify those. There are 2 kinds of them:

  • Keywords that have 10+ clicks and NO sales. 
    These are likely to either bring you 0 or little sales in the future
  • Keywords with ACoS over 80% AND 3+ sales (for any given period). 
    These will likely keep generating you sales, yes – but for some reason, they are not very relevant, and customers keep leaving your listing more often than buying. This makes them too expensive to work with.

In both cases, you should assume that these poor performing keywords are BAD for your CURRENT listing (this may or may not change in future). They should be stopped from showing your PPC in the future. You do this by adding them to the Negative Keywords on the campaign level.

Sometimes there can be a specific poor-performing query that is only relevant to a SINGLE Ad Group. For example, you sell “body laser thermometers,” and you have an Ad Group “For Babies” – for whom you want to exclude theany search terms with “for the bath” – because they get you too costly conversions. In this case add those to Negative Keywords of that particular Ad Group.

b) Collect negative ASINs

The idea here is the same as with negative keywords. 

Some of your Automated campaigns are built to generate your clicks by showing you ads next to competing products. However, if your product is perceived as inferior compared to target ASIN product – you will get little-to-no sales in the end. 

So use the same logic as with poor-performing keywords: run Search Term Report and add these poor-performing ASINs to a Negative Product Targeting for Ad Groups in question.

c) Collect GOOD search terms and turn them into keywords

Use the Search Term Report to identify good-performing keywords (that are not yet part of your campaigns). 

You can safely assume that a search term is GOOD if it brought you sales at ACoS below 50% AND made 2+ sales over any given period.

Take all such good performing keywords and add them to your Exact Campaign for further testing. 

Make sure your bids for these new words are sufficient to show them at positions high enough to actually start getting clicks (preferable above middle of page 2, but definitely above page 5). Oh, and don’t’ forget to add them to NEGATIVE keywords of your Broad and Automated campaigns too (as “exact negative”) to make sure you have full control over them.

N.B. Some of the new effective keywords you discover via the Search Term Report may turn out to be a surprise. If they will keep generating you sales – make sure that you update section of your Product Detail Page (title/ bullet points/ description/ backend keywords) to include these new terms and give your ASIN a boost at ranking on them organically.

d) Collect good competitor/ complimentary ASINs

This is about ASINs (that are not yet part of your campaigns) that generate you good sales at low cost, according to the Search Term Reports. We trust that by now you’ve already figured out what to do with them on your own.

How often should you run Search Term Report optimisation?

Ideally it should be examined in the above manner every 7-10 days for the 1st month of your PPC campaign. This is to cut irrelevant clicks and Collect the most effective keywords as soon as possible.

For a seasoned campaign this procedure should be repeated about once every month.

Working the bids

Working the bid keywords

Adjusting keyword bids is the bulk of your optimization work. 

The more mature your PPC campaign becomes – the more it’s up to THIS part of your optimization process to generate you good sales at a reasonable cost.

Whenever thinking about bids and search results positioning of you Sponsored ads – you should always remember about the NATURE of your product. And think about how your customers are going through a decision making cycle before buying it. This will impact where you want your Sponsored Ads to be shown so to sell most effectively. 

For example: customers looking for a new coffee machine will likely browse more options before deciding which one to buy. Hence showing on the 1st position of Page 1 search results is not the key to winning customer’s attention. At the same time when a customer is buying something mundane, like a nail clipper for her a cat – is a quick decision process and being near the top of Page 1 for this product makes all the difference in the world for a successful sale. 

A good idea about how important is to be on Top of Search for your particular product can be derived from Amazon PPC Product Placement tab: if you see that your ads’ CTR for Top of Search is significantly higher that in Rest of Search and Product Pages (e.g., 5% vs 0.3% or even 1%) – than you market IS likely to favor products at the very Top of Search. 

Regular Checkups

Whatever your market is – there’s a rule of thumb of what you should do every time you look at your keywords (be it weekly or monthly data) to keep your PPC campaigns healthy:

  • Look for keywords that perform poorly. Unless they are SPECIAL for your given Strategy (which we will discuss a bit later), you should always take action with them. There are two ways to go about it:

  • If a keyword/ASIN had 10+ clicks (15+ if a keyword seems extremely relevant) and 0 sales – pause these.

  • If a keywords/ASIN has generated you enough sales (3+) and it’s ACoS is above 80% – you should pause it too. It’s unlikely you can make it profitable for your PPC. These keywords can be SPECIAL, so your strategy may actually need them to continue to run, but if it does not – pause them without hesitation.

  • If a keywords/ASIN generated you 3+ sales (over a given period), but it’s ACoS is between you break even ACoS (for most Sellers on Amazon this is between 20% and 40%) – then decrease its bid by the same amount as you want that ACoS % to drop. 

For example: if your bid was $3.15, your break-even ACoS is 30% and the real-life ACoS turned out 72% – make the new bid = 3.15*(30/72) = $1,3. Yes, this will drop your search result position way below what it was – but over time, you may find that this position still generates you some sales and at a much more reasonable ACoS.

  • If your keyword generated you 1+ sale at ACoS below your break-even – you should test if this keyword can generate you more sales if you increase the bid. Test it up until the break-even ACoS and react accordingly. Bear in mind that by “sales” we mean different things for different Strategies!

  • Finally, you will likely see some keywords with a high (100+) impression for a period – but low or no clicks. Run a quick manual check to confirm if these are relevant to your product (via Amazon’s search console). If they are not – pause them, just to be on the safe side. If they are, however – you may want to raise your bids slightly to start getting some real clicks (and hopefully some real sales too).

    This way, you will eventually understand if such keywords are suitable for your Exact campaign or not.

Marketing Strategy and PPC Optimization

Amazon marketing Strategy and PPC Optimization

Effective PPC optimization can’t be done without deciding on what Marketing Strategy you want to execute (in the long run) for your product. Your bidding efforts will be different for every option. Here are the Strategies we tend to differentiate:

Launch Strategy

If this is the first time you’ve launched an Amazon PPC campaign for your product – and the product itself wasn’t selling on Amazon for too long – then you need to find and fight for your place amongst competitors in search results. 

This is how we at Profit Whales go about such task:

  • Bid high enough on brand-related keywords (if you are selling a branded product). This is primarily a defensive strategy to make sure no competitor is getting sales off people looking for your brand by showing his/her product to them BEFORE they see yours. The bids here depend on a single unit’s price, of course – but we have rarely seen any competitor paying over $1.5/ click on any competing brand.

  • Choose your Strategy-SPECIAL keywords and work them in groups. As there may be a lot of keywords relevant to your product – it may be expensive to bid high on all of them. So instead, you may want to identify a particular group of relevant keywords and bid aggressively on those to gain as high a position in search result as Amazon will let you. For example, you sell dog’s collars, and you have initially bid $1.75 on all Exact keywords. After seeing first Search Term Reports, you identify that the “small dog collar” keywords group is having a better CTR and lower ACoS (even if it’s still too high!) than your other keywords. And you see your own Sponsored Ads appear somewhere between pages 3 and 4 of search results on this group’s search results (by checking them manually in search results). Good! Now you can try and increase bids on all “small dog collar” keywords up to $2.30 – and give it a week to see if these SPECIAL keywords start performing even better. 

  • Test every such group separately for optimal bid levels. 

By following this Strategy, you can spend a reasonable amount of money and still project enough PPC power to climb up the search result with some relevant and good-performing keywords, testing all of them group by group. 

This strategy also fits well with those PPC managers who seem to be unable to break through the “brand-related only” PPC barrier, where the only keywords that generate sales at a reasonable ACoS seem to be only those that contain the brand name of the product.

Optimal PPC Profit Strategy

This is a Strategy for those managers who have run their PPC campaigns for some time now. We assume you’ve successfully identified most of the good-performing keywords/ASIN and paused/negatived all the poorly-performing ones. Now it’s time to make them work for YOU!

  • Even if a keyword generates your sales – it may be doing so not in a most effective manner yet. Look at the position your Sponsored Ad gets with this keyword’s search results right now. It’s not in the first half of Page 1 (especially for Top Of Search massive markets) – try increasing its bid slightly to see if it performs even better from being slightly higher up. Obviously, your bid should not be so high that you jump over the break-even ACoS. This experiment may have two outcomes:

    • A keywords/ASIN IS generating more sales from a higher bid. The new ACoS is still reasonable. In this case – keep increasing the bid slightly every week until you reach the top line of your comfortable ACoS to generate more sales. If you find your Sponsored ad are at the top position of search results Page 1 – do not be afraid of losing out on too high a bid: by default Amazon’s algorithm will be charging you only 1 cent above what it charges the second-best bidder.
    • The keyword no longer generates you more sales, regardless of bid increase. This can be for several reasons – but primarily is because Amazon’s algorithm is not letting your ad higher up the search results (cause the criteria OTHER THAN THE bid are insufficient). If this happens – take it as an indication that you need to work more on your listing (you review, convertibility, having keywords mentioned in the listing itself, having too low BSR, etc.) and leave your bid as it was.

  • For keywords that generate your sales, but do so at ACoS close or somewhat over your break-even (not by a lot) – try decreasing the bids slightly. This can sound counter-intuitive, but a keyword might generate your sales at a much lower ACoS that you have now (say it can make you 8 sales/month at 6% ACoS as opposed to 27 sales at 40%). What this optimization will do – is free up the marketing budget to experiment more with other keywords that may bring you extra sales if pushed up a little.

In this manner, you should be continuously testing all your selling keywords for equilibrium bids, where you get must band for your buck cross all the Campaign and not just a few well-performing keywords.

Aggressive Push Strategy

This is an expensive way to drill your way through Amazon’s competition. Mostly you want to bid so high on your high-volume and good-performing (or potentially-good-performing) keywords to push the competitors out of the way and teach Amazon’s algorithm to rank you as high up as possible across all these search results.

This can be a temporary or a short-term goal: you may want to claim the top-3 of Page 1 position indefinitely – or you may wish to do so briefly, just before some massive sales even (Prime Day, for instance). 

To get the most out of this Strategy this is what you with your bids :

  • Increase your PPC budget. Believe it or not – even with the same bids (and NOT spending your full budget on them!) Amazon’s algorithm can sometimes show your Sponsored ads more often than it did before if you double or triple your advertising budget. This sounds irrational, but that is something we’ve noticed to work with Amazon.

  • Bid aggressively to improve your keywords’ ranking and your product’s BSR. Use 3rd party services to see the rank of your all high-performing keywords. Or do so by typing in search queries manually – it doesn’t matter how. But you must make sure that you claim as high search result position as possible – and stay there for at least 3 weeks. This is the time that we have deducted Amazon’s algorithm needs to settle in with a new keyword’s rank for any particular ASIN. You are likely to do this at ACoS well above your break-even, but it’s OK for this Strategy, because:

  • You should look at both your PPC AND Organic sales when examining if the strategy is being productive. After all – healthy organic sales at any new position are likely to generate you 3-4 sales per 1 PPC sale. If this total number of new organic sales makes you extra-expensive PPC campaign worth it – you’re on the right track!

  • As you stimulate more PPC sales with an Aggressive Strategy, your BSR will be increasing. Thus enabling Amazon’s algorithm to show your ASIN higher up across ALL search results. Real sales are worth A LOT in the eyes of the algorithm.

  • If you know that getting to the very Top of Search results with a few very best keywords (and pushing your competitors below) will generate you significantly more sales – you can switch your Campaign Bidding Strategy selector from the default “Dynamic bids – down only” to a very aggressive “Fixed bids“. This is a costly and very dangerous way to go. Still, if for some reason Amazon’s algorithm does not allow you to show higher up regardless of your bids (you can see this if your CPC value is way lower than your bid) – this is how you can attempt to break through and gain even higher search result position. 

Only an excellent Product Detail Page can sustain this approach and keep the whole PPC profitable. You should really not use it for anything beyond 3 weeks, as it is unlikely to be profitable even on a best-case scenario – but it may help you to “fix” in a higher search result position once you return you bidding strategy to the standard “Dynamic bids – down only”

Remember! The goal of any Aggressive Strategy is to gain new placement and teach Amazon’s algorithm that your product IS worth showing more often to Amazon’s customers on it. Yes – Amazon officially states that all the customers shopping for your product on Amazon are not yours – they’re THEIRS. And this is precisely why at some point, you need to plan to STOP your Aggressive Strategy and start ripping the fruits of your work. 

The first indicator of equilibrium (that is, the organic sales are no longer stimulated by current PPC efforts) is when your PPC sales account for 20-40% of your total sales. And if the situation remains this way for 3+ weeks – it is now time to settle down. Revise your ACoS. Bid down all keywords that have ACoS higher than your optimal (usually the break-even) level. 

Your organic sales will also drop somewhat over time – but still, if that new equilibrium level (with reasonable ACoS) of your total sales (with reasonable ACoS) is more than what you were selling at the beginning of Aggressive Push Strategy – congratulations: you did it right! 

Profit Whales has been successfully optimizing Amazon PPC campaigns for our big and small Brands for over 3 years. Over this period, we’ve gained knowledge about the inner working of Amazon. 

In fact, we went so far to digitalize our expertise and create a simple to use Optimisation tool that helps Amazon Sellers to do routine Amazon PPC Optimisation tasks via a completely automated process. 

All our clients have to do is choose a Strategy that our Optimisation tool will implement on a real-time basis in their PPC campaigns. 

Yes, even the smartest or Neural Networks can’t yet replace a fully seasoned professional PPC management team. But it can certainly take the PPC optimization off the shoulders of a small or medium Amazon Seller – and deliver good enough results to be well worth its money. See our Profit Whales website for details (you can test it with a 14-day trial).

Is there a stop to PPC Optimisation?

All the above work is, of course, crucial for your Amazon PPC Campaigns to help you achieve your Business Goals. 

But is there a point at which you can look at what you already did and say, “That’s it! My PPCs are as good as they come. I can’t really optimize it any further”. 

Well, actually, YES!

Given all other things equal, there is a point where further improvement (looking for new keywords, new negatives, looking for bid’s sweet spots for a given Strategy, etc.) will not be worth extra time you spend on it. If you arrive at this state – you are really left with mostly monitoring the performance of your PPC campaigns. And being ready to intervene in case things STOP being equal. Usually, this eventually happens because of 2 things:

  • Seasonality. If your product is highly seasonal – you will have High Season and Low-season periods. At these periods all your will typically competitors increase/ decrease their bids en masse. So be sure to follow the flow and adjust your bids accordingly to retain the rank (position) amongst them. You may find it useful to SAVE your well-working PPC campaign setting (as a bulk file) for every high and low season – and upload them whenever the time comes, to save you on the repetitive routing work on those temperamental bids.

  • Aggressive competitors. Every now and then, old or new competitors will try and overtake the listing by investing heavily in advertising (not necessarily via Amazon PPC). Since good sales are one of the top parameters Amazon’s algorithm is considering when placing a product on search results – such a change will send ripples across all the listings. And it will disturb the equilibrium you’ve worked hard to achieve. 

So, in reality, there is no long-term stability in the PPC. 

There are periods when you can relax and let your hard work pay for itself – and other periods when you need to kick in those optimization routines again – and make sure you keep what you’ve gained. 

But this is what makes it all so interesting to do, isn’t it?

[cmtoc_table_of_contents]
Victor Tolok

Victor Tolok

Creative Content Creator