Sponsored Products and Amazon PPC Q&A with Brian Johnson

167 Sponsored Products & Amazon PPC Q&A with Brian Johnson

We have, once again, Brian Johnson of PPC Scope and Sponsored Products Academy on the show. After we released the previous episodes I got so many questions that I had to get Brian back on. We’re going to do a Q&A session right now to address questions sent in from the listeners.

Brian Johnson of PPC Scope

Relevancy of Keyword Phrases


Why do keywords sometimes not get impressions, even though I putting a high bid and the auto-campaign is showing they’re relevant?

It comes back to relevancy. Amazon continues to tighten up what they consider relevant to the keyword you’re trying to advertise for the product you’re trying to sell and the search terms the potential buyers’ are using. The first thing they’re going to look at is how directly relevant is the phrase you’re bidding on to the search term the shopper is using. Amazon is also looking at the information they have on that buyer. What they searched before and the products they bought. Often times, the match they don’t find is with the frontend content of your listing.

If you’re getting zero impressions, check that the keyword is in your frontend content. Just last week Amazon started messing with the backend indexing and it’s throwing off a lot of sellers. It comes back to what Brian teaches, you have to know your target audience and set up your listing based on the keywords that will convert.

If I’m not appearing for a search term, how much is it about the PPC setup, and how much is it about the product listing?

The question is: Is your ad showing at all? Or is it just showing lower? If your ad doesn’t show at all then you’ve been filtered out completely. That’s usually a product mismatch or a category mismatch with your product. If your ad is showing up low then you’ve passed the relevance test, but the quality score of your campaign is too low to be competitive. You can compensate by bidding higher, but there are better ways of doing it.

Segmentation is Important

Is it all about the listing matching up to the keywords or is there something else we need to be aware of in how we approach the PPC campaigns?

There are best practices that you can use when it comes to setting up campaigns in order to have the best analytics and the best control. The short version of that is to segment to everything. Segment to the match types, to the skus and have separate ad groups for everything.

As far as getting filtered out because of relevancy, yes, you listing plays a major role in that. Is your product in a sub-category that is directly relevant to that search term. Is there a match between the keyword phrase your bidding on, the search term phrase the buyer is searching, and the keyword phrase that is in your frontend content.

This is a major oversimplification of a very complex idea and system. We couldn’t possibly cover everything adequately in this podcast. If you want the full version and many many hours of training, you can get his full lesson with the  release of SPA 2.0.

Google Adwords as a Learning Campaign

Sponsored ProductsIf I run a campaign on Google as a learning campaign, talking about Adwords with single match goals, does a different keyword perform differently on a campaign on its own or with other keywords?

There are specific uses for splitting a keyword into its own campaign. In sponsored products, I would set that up in its own campaign if I was going to test bidplus, for instance. I wouldn’t run a whole portfolio of keywords in a campaign and try to run bidplus because I want to control what Amazon is using for the bidplus.

You might have a high performing keyword segmented into its own campaign to protect that keyword phrase. That is usually only necessary if you’re in an extremely competitive advertising space. Most sellers don’t need to do that.

Different Languages

What about running different languages in certain markets? For example, Polish ads on the German marketplace and Spanish ads in the US since such large populations of the residents speak those languages.

This is something that is worth testing. You can test different translations of your target keyword phrase. The result on those is a very small fraction. However, if that gives you a competitive edge then it’s certainly worth testing. Typically, you would add that in on the frontend content as well as the backend. However, with these recent changes to the backend indexing, we’re going to have to see how that changes things.

It is definitely worth testing if there is a cultural appeal one way or another. Again, you probably won’t see much of a difference, maybe a 5% bump. But that could be significant if you’re moving a lot of product.

Long-tail Keywords for Sponsored Products

Do Long-tail Keywords get you Ranking for Short-tail Keywords? For example, if I advertise for blue plastic widget, will I rank for plastic widget and blue plastic?

You will get some. It’s going to look at the individual words, word pairs, the short-tail phrases as well as the long-tail phrases. We see more impact based on what you have in the title of the listing. That’s going to driving ranking more than just what you’re advertising on. Now, if you’re advertising the same words as in your title and that converts, that will reinforce what you have in your title.

What tools are essential for long-tail keywords?

There are three tools that are useful depending on how aggressive you need to get. A PPC analytics software that will do a better job that campaign manager. Brian’s PPC Scope continues to be the leading software on that. It gives you much more insight into what’s going on and with trends and whatnot. It shows what keywords aren’t working and how to adjust those.

For keyword research, something like Merchant Words Global. That gives a good set of keywords that goes beyond what Amazon suggests. One that Brian really recommends is Keyword Inspector. He does so much data collection on listings that we can go in and see what keywords are a competitor for and what are they on page one for. You can do that for your own listings. You can reverse engineer your own listings. Sometimes our listing is on page one for a keyword and then drop to page two but out sales don’t change. You can use this tool to find out what keywords you’re actually getting your sales from.

It’s also a good idea to use that tool when making major changes to your listing. If you are going to change your content based on what you learned from PPC, take a snapshot of what keywords are driving sales a couple weeks before you change the content. Then take a look a few weeks afterward and see what changed.

Using Keyword Inspector

If you have a Keyword Inspector account there is a reverse ASIN report. It’s one credit to get the simple report because you don’t really need all the other information. You can get it, but it might be overkill. It’s a good idea to run the report for all your variations. It might be expensive, but it’s an investment. At the same time, if you’re going to research your competitor, don’t just get a report on the top one, look into the full front page and find the commonalities of everyone on page one.

Improve Ranking

Can I use PPC to increase the rank of my products if I buy via PPC advert? Am I getting a rank boost for the search terms or the keywords?

One thing to keep in mind is that Amazon is looking at what the shopper is doing and the shopper is using a search term. We’re telling Amazon that we want them to show our ad for these keywords. Then Amazon is making the match between the two. Amazon’s focus is going to be the sales funnel with the shopper. The search term that the shopper is inputting will have a higher value.

There is a mindset among some sellers that simply turning on ads will boost your ranking. There may be some from there, but more so will be how many units you are selling and how much of an effect that will have on that keyword compared to your competitors.

Some search terms have a decent a-cost but the conversion rate is bad. Is that bringing down the overall conversion rate and hurting the seller?

The conversion rate only comes in as a tiebreaker. Most of the time that won’t be considered. It will be primarily based on the click-through rate, the performance of the campaign, and the bid of the keyword compared to the competitors. If all that is equal, then Amazon will look at the conversion rate. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter, it’s just not that important when it comes to sponsored ads. It’s a huge factor when it comes to organic ranking.

Campaign Throttling and Management

How is the spend divided over the day? For example, if you set a budget of $240, does Amazon aim to spend $10/hr or does it all go at once?

Amazon doesn’t have the throttling tools that you can find with Adwords. It is likely that Amazon will implement this into sponsored products in the next couple years. Amazon doesn’t have the infrastructure to support active, real-time data like Adwords doesn’t. Adwords has the ability to throttle budgets throughout the day. Adwords can target specific times of the day. Amazon can’t support that because they’re not working on real-time data. This is something that Amazon has talked about and they are working on trying to implement in sponsored products.

There is an advanced sponsored products technique that Brian teaches called a waterfall campaign. That is intentionally scheduling ads so that they run out of budget but they drop to the next campaign. Throughout the day campaign one runs out of budget, then two runs out, then three. They’re hitting at different bid ranges so they’re tiering down. It doesn’t give you complete control, but it gives you your own throttling schedule. It’s a very specialized technique that almost no one will need to use it but you might need a very specific competitive reason for doing that.

Is it worth it to get a VA to turn your campaigns on and off throughout the day?

It’s something worth testing. Amazon has a 48-72 hours delay when it comes to data, so it might be difficult to figure it out. If you find, in your specific situation, where that makes a difference, go for it. It’s a feature that they are looking into at PPC Scope but there’s not enough demand at the time. If it is something you would like, let them know.

Getting More

If you want to get the details and the step by step, structured learning environment, then you will definitely want to check out the launch of Sponsored Products Academy 2.0. They start with the basic foundational concepts for those that aren’t familiar with sponsored products. Then they go through intermediate and advanced techniques. They will teach you how to get the most from you ad campaign so that every click is profitable.

The training goes beyond sponsored products. They talk about copywriting, external lead generation, and influencer marketing. If you can master advertising, it will give you a major advantage over your competition.

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