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October 8, 2019

Amazon PPC Management with Brian Johnson of Canopy Management

Amazon PPC Management can get very messy. Learn the basic skills to increase product performance and overall leveraging your business.


Brian Johnson of Canopy Management 

Affectionately known as the “Brain in the Jar”, not only has Brian achieved success as an online seller, but he has become the Leading Strategist in Amazon Pay-Per-Click Advertising.

Over the course of his career, Brian has founded: the Amazon PPC Troubleshooting community, Amazon PPC Consulting Association, PPC Scope ad management software, Sponsored Products Academy training course, and Canopy Management advertising agency for million-dollar brands.

Methodology for basic campaign structure

What is the overall framework?

This has evolved over the years.

  • Bear in mind: New manual campaigns take a few weeks to “warm-up” for Amazon to trust them.
  • Always have an Auto -discovery campaign for Amazon PPC Management.
  • Brian used to do 1 auto and 1 manual campaign
  • Now does 3 manual campaigns

What manual campaigns to have?

Most people assume campaigns are set up by match type. That’s not what Brian teaches or does.

1st campaign – ASIN targeting (run ads on someone else’ listing)

2nd campaign:  research campaign 

Test to see which different match types perform best at Amazon PPC Management.

Those that do convert get into the protected campaign.

3rd campaign “protected campaign”

AKA:  “profitable”/“converting”/“Winner” campaigns

You focus ads to where you get the highest ROI on spend

Then you’re into more advanced campaigns.

What is ASIN targetting? 

Like AMS – product display.

You can choose headline targeting or ASIN targeting.

You can build those to run on weaker competitors’ listings.

If you have a new product and no social proof, you have a little conversion.

So get a foothold first before you attack others in Amazon PPC Management.

Then have your ads run on other listings that don’t have such good products.

It’s basically about stealing market share.

It works best if you run these ads on a competitor listing with low social proof, value, price.

Be THE alternative.

If Conversion Rate is not close to the top 3, you’ll struggle to do ASIN targeting.

How do you pick weak competitors? 

Way 1: if your product is better on price or review count.

Way 2: brand analytics analysis – how well do top products convert?

Automatic campaign use

It’s NOT for keyword research.

it’s easier to set up

Plus you get instant results

Manual research campaigns

You do your OWN list of keywords.

So you can tell Amazon here’s where I want my ad to be shown.

You’re looking to get your ad in front of your audience.

You don’t necessarily if you’re getting in front of the RIGHT audience.

You might dump 1000s of keywords into your keyword campaign.

How many keywords to have in a manual campaign? And how to organize?

From his data – the number of keywords amazon shows for a given product, probably 150-200 keywords. Amazon won’t care about the camp structure.

Some might be 500; some 10!

150 keywords typically get impressions.

75-100 keywords typically get clicks.

30-50 keywords typically get conversions.

Campaign structure doesn’t affect this!

Amazon wants relevance! They want us to go for a niche audience

They want to focus on the finite size of the audience. You’ll focus on the terms in the content and the ad.

Automatic campaign structure 

One ad group per variation or product.

Manual research Campaign structure 

one ad group per product and per match type

Usually all 3 match types

Broad match ad group for each ASIN

Phrase match ad group for each ASIN

NO exact match ad group

Phrase match will get you the most traffic and data.

You do also have a protected campaign to do the exact match.

Set bid same or phrase match a few cents higher.

“Protected” campaign 

Include Phrase and exact

Phrase match ad group for each ASIN

Exact match ad group for each ASIN

If someone has a specific outcome – separate into a specific ad group for organic keyword ranking.

So in day to day doing optimisation, cutting costs or growing sales – Brian sets aside the “ranking” campaign ad group because you’re going to be more aggressive.

How do you choose “ranking “ keywords 

It’s not all about the highest sales keywords.

It’s about WINNABLE ones.

It’s easy to over-focus on one keyword. You might find 20 smaller keywords are more important.

Set a foundation then aim to let them grow organically at the same time.

The ultimate outcome is to go for the ultra competition

How do you choose what mid and long term keywords to target?

Brand analytics will give you click-through and conversion rates.

Top 3

  • Highly searched terms

What are the top ranking competitors for a keyword I already convert on?

I might have a conversion rate of 10%

Use Brand analytics – top 3 competitors are 20%, 10%, 5% conversion rate

It will be hard to overtake the top 2 based on conversion rate –

If your conversion rates aren’t in line with the top of page one. You won’t “stick the landing” if you use a launch service.

There is more speculation and estimation about the bottom of page one as they are not included in Brand Analytics.

Is the keyword too generic for you to take on now?

Eg: Ballpoint pen – maybe “medium tip ballpoint pen”

  • Lower competition
  • Higher conversion rates

How does the ranking on page 1 or 2 work?

Page 2 is more frequent than page 10!

If people buy grey medium tip ballpoint pen after looking for “ballpoint pen”, you’re more likely to get organic sales.

There are a lot of organic sales on page 1.

Some sellers may not be tracking longer-tail keywords

  • They track sales  from top 5 keywords
  • But often don’t track 20 keywords  page 2
  • 50 keywords  page 3
  • 200 keywords  page 4

You can use brute force to rank a product for a keyword.

But if you don’t have a conversion rate, it will slide.

Amazon will rank you for a more competitive keyword by ranking for mid-ranking keywords.

So the key is usually to build a base of multiple longer- and medium-tail keywords to rank for shorter-tail, more competitive keywords.

What long-tail keywords should I target?

The issue is shopper behaviour.

If they start off with “ballpoint pen”, they don’t know what they want.

Then they look at results and mentally refine.

They start clicking through and find what they’re visually looking for.

That is what happens with “natural” “organic” “recycled” – that’s what drives the conversion.

Ultimately, you need to be able to run ads and have content (Images or titles etc. ) directly relevant to the keywords.

But it’s going to be hard to find a specific audience.

You can’t get away with not having a generic term. But you have to go for specific keywords.

As you start proving yourself, Amazon will give you more leeway.

Gaming the system vs. Measuring carefully

A lot of the time, Amazon sellers are looking for ways to game system, leapfrog ahead of competitors.

You can try lots of methods to jump ahead temporarily – if you have a good conversion rate relative to competitors – and unit sales velocity – you’ll stay higher in rank.

That comes at a cost – you need to see if you get that back over time.

As sellers what we see is “what I’m doing here is driving the ranking”

Instead of seeing the “groundswell” foundation build.

Track everything!

Track, not just the top 5 keywords.

The best ability to “stick the landing” and support other keywords

– look at the Click-Through Rate of that keyword (not a product!)

  • look at the conversion rate of that keyword

“Current score” is what Brian call it internally in the agency.

Conversion rate and Click-Through Rate combo is critical

**Generally keywords  with high conversion rate and Click-Through Rate combo have a more lasting impact on ranking and sales**

Amazon Ad SEO is NOT the same as Google SEO

Usually,  you can’t just bring Google SEO over to Amazon SEO and succeed. They are very different platforms.

And be very wary of agencies that are Google SEO agencies trying to work with you to rank a product on the Amazon platform.

Amazon support is not going to be slick!

However, Amazon is developing new technologies. Brian speaks to teams at Amazon once a week.

We have this perception that all these departments work seamlessly at Amazon and are huge. They aren’t either!

Brian’s support team is bigger than Amazon’s ad team support team. Amazon’s ad support team had 2 people – now they have 3! Clearly they have not matched support to the scale of the platform yet.

How does Brand analytics tie with PPC?

It’s narrow in scope – only top 1 million search terms. And top 3 searched products.

They have added in new features

  • Shopping cart metrics
  • Demographics

Why did Amazon start Brand Analytics?

They exposed top brand analytics to mitigate some of the black hat reporting eg people buying insider info – to make it less lucrative for the backhand reporting.

They show only the top 1.2M top searched terms on Amazon.

You can break down by week, month, quarter.

You can start judging how your product compares to the competition.

We are likely to be getting traffic for a competitive keyword because of ads.

But it may not be worth trying to compete on p. 1

The competition may have national TV ads and a great brand – and better images.

If you look at brand analytics if you see something that obviously black hat – if it has 10% of the impressions but only 0.1% convert!

So they may not get the sales just by being there.

Confused shoppers lose sales

The shoppers know when something doesn’t feel right.

You lose shoppers from your listing if they are confused or they have doubts.

If some piece of info is missing or contradictory, they will leave.

Part of the listing optimisation is – have other people read it:

“Is there anything on this listing that is causing you doubt or confusion?”

Manually check Keywords 

You need to make sure you check relevance.

Most sellers don’t take the time to search on Amazon for a specific keyword.

A lot of the results are irrelevant

Technical vs. Contextual analysis

Technical analysis – what do the numbers tell me?

Contextual analysis – Should I be bidding on this keyword?

Would a shopper be interested in my product using this keyword? What is their buying INTENT?

A lot of the time, we are not passionate about a product or a user – so we don’t know the context of search terms. So we have to learn this from our data.

So you need to do some googling to find out the context.

You can take top conversing keywords for an ASIN and look at conversion rate on own product.

You can look up top competitors for search term conversion rate – how do top 3 listings convert cf mine?

You’ve got to convert the conversion rate

Unit session percentage % is an overall conversion rate

Then ad conversion rate  for a keyword

Typically USP is about 3 X the ad car Eg 30% USP – need at least 10% ad conversion rate


Brand analytics demographics CAN be useful if the analytics are useful.

The advertising is not set up to target specific ages or genders – you can’t split test. They are working on these kinds of things – next 3-6 months.

If people want to get more detail/paid help

Sponsored Products Academy 3.0 being launched mid-October (this is an update of an existing course)

Introductory videos

How do people get more training or help from you?

Training course


Dense course – launching in October  – 15-16 hours of video.


Amazon Ads Management Software

For those who are just starting out with Ads -PPC Scope is ad management software with free trial



Free Community

FaceBook community with 16,000 members

“Amazon PPC Troubleshooting”



Canopy.management is the agency site – work with established brands. Phenomenal hands-on team. 36 staff on team!

Apply here if you want to discuss working with Brian’s team:


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