How to expand search marketing reach in the slow season, part 2: Amazon Marketing Services

In part 2 of our series on how to battle the slow season and incrementally increase purchases, we dive into Amazon Marketing Services (AMS).

For those unfamiliar with AMS, it is (to put things mildly) a fast-growing ecommerce channel. If you are an ecommerce business and you are not on Amazon, chances are you are missing out on some solid incremental revenue. Whatever your reservations about selling on Amazon, it’s worth getting into – especially as you battle through the slow season. This article should serve as a handy primer for testing the water, and will cover features and limitations that may surprise you if you’re used to working mostly within AdWords.

AMS ad types

AMS offers three ad types: sponsored products, headline search ads, and product display ads:

  • Sponsored products are auction based ads that appear in search listings
  • Headline search ads appear at the very top of the page, taking a large amount of real estate
  • Product display ads appear on product detail pages

When you’re launching on AMS and testing for performance, my recommendation would be to start with sponsored products. This ad type has the most inventory available, giving your campaign the greatest reach. Additionally, multiple products can appear for one query, which allows you to dominate the results page, and it has an extremely native look and feel.

Cross-channel insights and other best practices

When working on your initial campaign, do your homework before you launch. Leverage cross-channel insights to identify your best performers; think about what keywords work the best in paid search and use those.

You should also think carefully about the products you want to choose to test. They should be among your top performers for search and your Amazon organic listings (keeping star ratings and reviews in mind). Additionally, as you structure things, it is best to organize campaigns by tight-knit groupings of keywords. This will help you to better understand the intent of each group of keywords and will enable smarter budgeting moves according to overall performance.

Of course, there is post-launch optimization to consider. As you launch and gather data, make sure you are optimizing campaigns by actively scrubbing for irrelevant queries and poor performers, as well as re-examining bids of your best performers.

Platform quirks

Amazon is huge, but it’s still relatively new, which means you need to brace yourself for some less-than-optimal conditions in the interface. These include:

  • The user interface unfortunately isn’t as friendly as AdWords. You can’t customize your views at all, so you can’t change the columns, group things together, or view consolidated account-wide data
  • Once you name your campaigns, you are stuck with them. It is important, therefore, to truly think through your overall structure, as well as plan for how you may want to scale your account and build out additional campaigns
  • Query-level management is even more important than it is in AdWords, because Amazon offers no other levers to pull on: no device trends, no demographics to bid up on, etc.
  • There is limited visibility into the competitive landscape, i.e. no impression share data. To combat this:
    • Pay close attention to Headline Search Ad Win Rates – you want to be at least over 50% for your top-priority keywords, and as high as possible on any branded terms
    • You should use your own reporting tools/Excel to track correlations between impression volume and bids, because the AMS UI won’t give you any data about how much room there is to scale further.

That said, don’t let these idiosyncrasies turn you off; if you are an etailer and aren’t using AMS (for whatever reason), it’s definitely worth exploring during your slow season, when you’re most in need of extra traffic and revenue.

The next article in this series will explore the possibilities for advertising on Yahoo Gemini.

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