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Amazon PPC - A How To Guide For Amazon Sponsored Products Ads

edited January 16 in General
Hey everyone, I'm Travis Jamison, the original founder of AMZ Tracker. Although I have since passed the torch of AMZ Tracker on to its new owners, I am now investing and partnering with companies selling on Amazon via and growing them as Smash Digital, and know just how much of an impact properly utilizing Amazon's Sponsored Products (PPC) can have on a brand.

In fact, one of the first things that our partners do when sitting down with a new Amazon business is look how we can improve PPC campaigns. This is the quickest way to boost up revenue in 9/10 cases. I urge you to take advantage of this yourself to see if it can work for your brand.

So without further delay, I give you...

The Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Setting Up Amazon PPC

Admin Update For 2018: There is now a badass Amazon PPC Management Software that has now been released. We recommend checking it out to simplify, optimize and improve your Amazon PPC campaign management. They also have a much better guide than is offered here.

Amazon is obviously an amazing platform for moving massive amounts of product.

But let’s level with each other here: if you just slap a bunch of SKUs into a seller account and wait for the Bezos Fairy to bring you internet dollars, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Amazon Sponsored Products

That’s why you’re here, though - to learn more about how Amazon Sponsored Products can fast track you to getting more sales. In my opinion, Amazon PPC is a goldmine right now. The ROI can be absolutely incredible for certain products (but certainly not all). I think you’re absolutely crazy if you’re not at least trying out the ads on your products.

Look at the ROI on a couple of my own products.
ROI of Amazon PPC

Simply incredible.
Now for me, normal organic Amazon rankings are just so much more lucrative compared to the PPC (much more volume comes from organic), but PPC still ends up basically being free money. Just waiting to be taken if you find a successful campaign.

So in this post, I’m going to walk you through the nuts and bolts of how to launch your first Amazon Sponsored Products campaign in just minutes.

Before we go any further though, I want to tell you that I’m not the super-incredible-talented (and handsome) Amazon PPC expert here. My specialty lies in organic Amazon SEO rankings as you all very well know. What I’m showing you here just happens to be what works well for me. So please throw in your own tips and experiences to improve this thread.

To get us started, here is the lovely little video Amazon prepared to show off it’s ad platform:


Let’s get started:

Step 1. Preparing Your Listing

The first thing you need to do here is get your actual product listing in shape. You don’t want to be sending a bunch of paid traffic to a crappy looking page. Make your page look awesome! Do all of the things you should be doing anyway.

You should invest in high quality images, you should include really great product descriptions, you should aim to actually sell your visitors with your text (aka copywriting). And last but not least, I always recommend getting some reviews first.

The reason for the reviews is that Amazon users are much more hesitant to buy a product if it doesn’t have any established reviews first. The Amazon ecosystem has become so dependent on these “trust factors” that your conversion rate will greatly decrease without them. I always make sure to have at least 10-15 good reviews on a product before I turn on the PPC, as conversion rate is very important here.

Last but not least, make sure and put all of your main keywords that you will be targeting somewhere on your listing. Title, bullet points, product description, etc. If you’re following our Amazon SEO Guide to optimize for AMZ Tracker, then you should probably have most of it taken care of already. This will up the relevancy of the page.

2. Choosing the Right Kind of Ads

This can be confusing. You can choose between two different kinds of advertising within Amazon: one that sends visitors to your website (called “Amazon Product Ads”), and one that sends them to your product within Amazon (called “Amazon Sponsored Products”). You would think they could come up with some more unique names to stop confusion huh? le sigh.

In this post, we’re only going over “Sponsored Product Ads”. These are the ones sending the traffic to your listings on Amazon, and frankly the only ones that I have a foggy clue about. (*update* Amazon has now discontinued the other kind of ads, so the only kind still relevant is the one we are talking about here.).

Anyway… these highlight your product in Amazon’s internal search results for keywords your products might not be ranking for, so if you’re selling a surfboard rack, you’ll pay to appear on the search results for keywords like surfboard racks, surfboard rack for suvs, etc. If you already are ranking organically for these terms, you now get twice the exposure.

Eventually, you’ll be able to rank your organically using AMZ Tracker, but Amazon Sponsored Products offer a great boost getting off the ground when your product is new, help you test the interest in new SKUs, and can actually help boost your organic rankings - we'll talk more about that in a bit. Not to mention, not using Amazon PPC is just leaving money on the table.

3. Creating Your First Campaign

To set up your first campaign, go to the advertising tab in Seller Central, then click on the Campaign Manager option in the drop-down menu.
Amazon campaign manager

Then hit the big Create Campaign button to get started.
Create Campaign Button

The main choices for you here are to name your campaign and set a daily budget. Be specific with your names - if you're serious about optimizing your campaign or have a wide range of products, you're going to end up with a lot of different campaigns sooner than later, and deciding on a naming convention from the start will save you a lot of time and confusion later.

For daily budget, I always just put in $50. Do what you want here of course. I’ve found it almost impossible to spend that much when starting out, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Your conversions on products often start low, then pick up over time. When that happens, Amazon will naturally start to lower your CPC because you’re selling a quality product (you are selling quality products, right?) so there’s very little downside to setting it insanely high in the beginning IMO.

4. Select a targeting type

In general, I always go with “Manual Targeting” and I suggest the same for you if you even semi-understand this keyword stuff.
Manual targeting Amazon ads

Automatic Targeting can be really bad at generating profitable ads for many, but it can be a cool way to find new keywords by letting Amazon “pick a whole bunch” of keywords for you. Many of them will overlap with data you’ve already pulled from AMZ tracker, but on occasion you can find some real gems for $50-100 bucks, and find some keywords that you never even thought to target.

A lot of people use ads just for that one purpose - finding out what keywords they should be targeting. That generally doesn’t apply as much to people using AMZ Tracker, but it can still be a great way to rapidly test which keywords are going to convert the best for you. Naturally, we’d suggest investing in ads and then ranking organically for the keywords that bring you the most sales per dollar when you’re starting out to build up your cash flow, then chase less profitable second-tier keywords once you already have a profitable campaign.

For your ongoing ads, though, you have to make sure you stick with Manual targeting - the automatic targeting will just blow your budget on crappy keywords if you leave it active. If you want to use it to discover new keywords, fine, but it's generally a losing bet in the long run.

So… go ahead and click “continue to the next step” and we’ll get your first ad up and running.

5. Your First Ad

On the next page, we’re actually going to build the ad that Amazon is going to show for your product.

Start by naming your Ad Group. PPC nerds are always very particular about the naming of campaigns, so pick some sort of very descriptive naming system and stick with it. You want it to be scalable.

Next up is deciding on your default bid - like Facebook and Adwords, Amazon’s pay-per-click ads are set up as an auction for ad space, so the default bid is the maximum you’re willing to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Initially, I recommend setting this number as high as $5 dollars per click. Don't worry - Amazon's never going to actually charge you that much in my experience thus far.

At this stage of the game, you're trying to collect as much data about the advertising market in your vertical as possible, and if your default bid is too low, your ads will only get shown sporadically and it'll be difficult to trust the data you've collected. Starting with a bold default CPC will help you so you want to make sure to outbid the competition at first.

Next up, is choosing the keywords you want to advertise for. Amazon’s going to show you a whole list of suggested keywords - don’t just blindly trust these, those are there to make Amazon money, not you. Make sure they perfectly fit your product offer or ignore them.

Then, click on the “Provide Your Own Keywords” link, plug in the keywords that you’ve picked out in your keyword research, then hit the button that says “Add these keywords.”

To find these keywords I personally use a combination of the built in AMZ Tracker keyword tool feature, Merchant Words, and the free versions and (both are specifically for Google, but they still help you find ideas).

After you drop your keywords into the box scroll up to give the campaign a quick review, making sure you’ve got the right budget, that there’s no end date on the date range, and that the text in your ads looks right, then save the settings and Amazon will take you to the dashboard for your new campaign.

Bear in mind: this campaign is officially running, which means Amazon’s going to be hitting your credit card soon. If there’s any reason why you’re not ready to run the ads or deliver the products yet, make sure to pause the campaign fast.

6. Patience = Profit

Now for a bit of a reality check:

Very few campaigns are going to be instantly profitable in their first few days, or even their first month.

But because Amazon PPC seems to influence organic rankings, lowers the cost per click over time, and because conversion rates tend to increase over time, you can’t give a campaign the thumbs-down on their platform as quickly as you might on Adwords or Facebook.

While some campaigns might be instant big winners, many more start out as losers, then pick up after the first few weeks to make month two or three pleasantly profitable.

We haven’t found a reliable metric yet that can predict which campaigns will take off, but the point is this: Amazon Sponsored Products reward patience.

So don’t rush to turn off a campaign before you’ve given it ample time to prove whether it’s going to be a winner for you or not.

7. Organic Ranking Bonus!

Now, as I mentioned before, there's some evidence to suggest your products will actually rank better organically while you’re running ads - it seems like the increase in visitors and sales can bump your organic rankings in Amazon search up a few spots, which is worth a lot more than what the ads will cost you. Test after test from myself as well as others seems to show this being true.

It’s a double bonus with the PPC.

Hope this helps! Post your Amazon PPC tips and thoughts below!

P.S. Thanks to Brent who manages PPC clients at Pathfinder for help with some questions in putting this together.


  • @Travis_Jamison, nice beginner guide... You say run ads at $5 bid... Do you lower it eventually? How long do you run it at the high bid price? I get similar ROI... the longer the campaign, the the lower the ACOS... Also noticed that several campaigns even if they include some of the same items seem to add up to a higher total result...
  • following...
  • edited September 2015
    @constantine thanks man. I'll usually end up lowering it, but haven't always. It lowers itself usually IMO. I've had a couple of products that I had to lower (and a couple that I had to turn off completely).
  • What is the meaning of IMO?
  • hahahaha.... thanks a lot Travis!!!
  • Hi @Travis_Jamison, Perhaps you can share some light on this. I tried the approach you suggested for setting the manual campaign keyword bid for $5 per key word and I ran it for a day. I put the daily budget on $150.

    I was a bit shocked with the outcome and stopped it for now. With estimated 1st page bids between $0.48 and $0.99, my cost per click were between $2.22 and $4.38 (see screenshot attached). I had never expected that CPC could be far higher than the 1st page bid. Do you know how this is possible?
  • @flow I wish I did for sure, but I'm not really an expert at Amazon PPC (only Amazon SEO). I just posted what works for me and how to get started.

    Thoughts though:
    • Amazon PPC takes some time as I mentioned in the post. The CPC will probably drop significantly over time, it always does.
    • You haven't really had enough data yet to get a good understanding.
    • I really don't have a clue about the different bids for each position, but if it's anything like Google then the "est page 1 bid" may be quite different from the "#1 spot bid". Just like in Google PPC, being at the top 2 spots is more expensive than the sidebar spots.
    @sammy You're a PPC pro, have any insight to this?
  • Hi @flow... the same happeed to me so I bid just a some cents more than the recommended bid from amazon.
  • SammySammy ✭✭
    edited October 2015
    Agree you don't really have any meaningful data yet though - 6 clicks tells you almost nothing.
    I wouldn't expect it to be profitable straight way - but you gotta be prepared to spend some money on it to see what works. If it was me I'd lower the bids to $1- $2 and see what happens.

    The estimated page one bids given by Amazon are never correct from what I can gather - they are either complete nonsense or simply 2 years out of date.. I'm not sure there.

    I don't know what category your bidding in, but I've never had CPC's approach anywhere near that - either you're bidding for super high value products, or it's just an incredibly competitive niche where everyone is bidding $5+.

    It depends on your product value though. I dont know what you're selling, but If you're selling a $100 product with $40 profit then those bids might be completely standard ... assuming a 10% conversion rate you'd be making money.

    At the end of the day though - all that matters with Amazon PPC is does it get you sales without losing money. (I was happy losing money at the beginning just to get sales)
    Obviously you want it to be profitable eventually, but breaking even on PPC is fine as it has other benefits like increasing ranking (indirectly), gets you more sales and reviews, further increasing conversion rate etc.

    Here's a podcast on Amazon PPC that I found useful when starting out.
  • Hi Guys, I didn't get notifications on this post, so sorry for the late reply. Meanwhile, I have lowered my bids and cost are going down to acceptable levels. I had first sales on my ppc (after reaching 23 reviews) so I will need more time to get valuable data. Thanks for your help.
  • Yeah I'm actually really glad you mentioned it, as I hadn't checked some of my sponsored product ads in a while and some were definitely too high. Fixed all the Amazon PPC bids and all is well in ROI land now.
  • Hi
    I have continued an Amazon ppc campaign after I had to stop it for 3 weeks, and the ads show up rarely. Daily budget is 50$, I use maybe 5$. How do I boost it?
  • just 5 bucks?? that is weird.

    I would suggest to add more of the suggested keywords (as much as you can but only if they make any sense) and maybe bid a little bit more than the suggested bid amount.
  • Hey Guys! I have had Amazon PPC running since before Christmas. I had to tweak my sales copy a bit but I hit gold and was converting at 10 to 20% on any given day and my AcoS was like 25% - which was profitable. My CPC was trending down for a while, then I hit a series of road blocks and hicups, ran out of inventory that kinda s**t! now - without changing my listing, my conversion rate has fallen to 3 to 5% and AcoS is like over 100%?!?!?! HELP!!! Hahah I am still running it to keep some sales coming in, I have google ppc going to the listing as well, and its conversion rate has also fallen. I understand I may be in a low point in my annual sales cycle - i have tweaked my listing a bit for more organic keyword exposure, i am launching some other sales funnels as well to warm traffic and do some list building. So I guess where I am going here is @sammy lets get that advanced Amazon PPC training going! hahah need it!

    I have single keyword ad groups set up - but I know my ads show for multiple but targeted keywords.

    Would you recomend doing several ad groups in the campaign with different variations of the keyword phrase??

    Discuss = )

    Thanks boys! Loving AMZ Tracker so far.

  • SammySammy ✭✭
    @Dugan I've got no idea with the info you've given - what is your sample size in those numbers given?
    It could simply be variance.
    If you're high conversion % was around xmas when everyones spending $$ then that alone could explain those numbers and the current drop.
    But again - to get any useful answer you need to give exact traffic numbers on the conversion %.
    It could be anything, more competition, better competition, but variance due to a tiny sample size would be my guess..
    You're conversion rate % should go up if anything over time due to more reviews IF you actually have a decent product.
    Also are you taking into account reviews and giveaways with your conversion rates?
    Did you run any giveaways to get the initial high conversion?

    Re: Amazon PPC Ad groups:
    I wrote a post in another thread about someone who wasn't using up their entire PPC budget, but it answers your question re using different ad groups. Here's that discusion on amazon ppc
  • Sweeeeeeeet! Thanks @sammy!
  • What if there are multiple sellers for my product, so I'm not the only one. When I pay the click for the ad, will some other seller will be shown in the "buy this product from ..."-box? Or will some other guy get my traffic on the product, which would be quite bad for my ROI, right?
  • I set up some campaign for my products, throw in many keywords( 400 keywords) about 90% show zero impression and remaining 10% have really low impression. They are relevant to my product. Any suggestion or tips?
  • yes! I am experience, it is SUPER HARD to have 400 keywords that are REALLY RELEVANT to any of my products.... Maybe for you me they sound relevant, but in fact they are not for most of the customers.

    If you have very low impressions in the MAIN KEYWORDS then you may have a problem going on (maybe your pictures, title or listing are not very tempting for the customers... or maybe you are bidding too low... I always bid 30 to 50 cents more than the recommended bid amount.

    It is also important that the MAIN KEYWORDS (usually they are not more than 10 or so) are in your TITLE or SEARCH TERMS.

    keep us posted!
  • SammySammy ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    There will rarely be 400 keywords with significant search volume that are relevant to your product.
    Even if there were... naturally 10% will be getting most of the impressions anyway..

    But Low impressions could also be:
    -your bids are far too low...
    -your expectations are too high...
    -there's no search volume for those keywords
    -Amazon isn't showing your ad as it doesn't deem it 'relevant'
    - You haven't given it enough time - Amazon PPC updates the info infrequently

    Are ALL the keywords you're bidding on in your bullets and description? If not, Amazon often will stop showing your ads, and won't give you any notice.
  • Amen!!
  • Thank you guys, I will go back to remove all the keywords that dont isnt good and increase the bid.

    Will get back to you guys about this.

    My 400 keywords look something like this.

    1) stylus pen
    2) stylus pen blue
    3) stylus pen fine tip

    All the keyword word starts with "stylus pen" .
  • How many keywords get the most number of impressions?
  • SammySammy ✭✭
    edited October 2015
    @azure293 I wouldn't remove the keywords - there's no reason to.
    They might just have low search volume. have you checkedd the search volume for all these keywords using ?
    If no ones looking for them then that could be why there's no impressions - but you will get the occasional searcher so it's still better to bid on them as it's not costing you any money anyway
  • Hi guys... I was just thinking about split testing the automatic and manual keyword functions to compare results... that is running two campaigns at the same time for the same product and just splitting my daily budget between the two. Is there any reason I shouldn't do this?
  • Thanks @Sammy, that url is so useful. I just searched up my keywords on, they are really low search volume. No wonder there is no impression.
  • coyacoya
    edited October 2015
    enjoy this beautiful discount that I have just found and I am already enjoying :)

    just $9 per month FOREVER! (instead of 30 bucks per month)
  • We re advised to try different key words for Amazon sponsored ads, then to get rid of ones that are just wasting your money. How are we supposed to judge which key words are good and which aren't? Is it by the number of impressions or by the number or clicks, or by the ratio of clicks to impressions? I don't see how we could be wasting our money on key words that don't work, because we pay only for clicks. Maybe it's sales that we should be looking at?
  • SammySammy ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    @DonL Amazon tells you exactly which ones are making money.

    Look at a manual campaign and it gives you a stat called ACOS - 'Actual Cost of Sales'

    This is a given in a % of how much $$ you are spending for the $$ return.

    For example:
    You've sourced a product for $10 and sell it on Amazon for $30
    You run ads and have a 33% ACOS which is an ok start.
    This means you are spending $10 in Ad Spend to make $30 in revenue.
  • How many keywords is acceptable? I think to find 400 keywords would be quite difficult?
  • Thanks for your response, Sammy. So far, after running a campaign for about a week, only two of the keywords have resulted in any sales, and both of those have cost much more than the amount of sales. I think I have to run this a bit longer to get a better picture, but assuming no change, do I dump the whole campaign (which so far is costing me quite a bit) or do I just eliminate the keywords that are producing no sales (and which are not costing me, because of no clicks)?
  • I have paused this ad. Spent $400, got sales of $143. 150 clicks and 16 sales. I am redoing my images and will try to make my Amazon description more attractive.
  • The biggest downside of the ads is they dont offer an API for it. If they did we would be listing most of our 300k+ parent items. Impossible to manage without an API though.
  • Hey folks... just getting my head around Automatic vs Manual Keyword targeting....

    I read the blog about Manual being preferred, however, I was thinking that Automatic would be pretty good on the basis that it would cover all the relevant keywords plus some other crappy ones... but then isn't it better to get as many impressions as possible regardless if they are appearing on irrelevant keyword searches... basically because a click through is sparked by a customers sense of interest which could turn to a sale... so what does it matter if that click came from a crappy keyword?

    This is unless we are saying Automatic targeting will just plainly miss out some good relevant keywords and you'll just miss out on impressions on theses?

  • Thank you guys for your great info here.
    I would like to ask, would anyone suggest putting in a keyword for an item I'm considering selling , in a current campaign (I'm running for a different item, obviously) so that I can see the # of impr's ,and see if it's worth getting into that item?
    Is it against Amazon TOS?
  • SammySammy ✭✭
    edited August 2015
    @Yitzy if I understand you correctly - you want to put keywords for an item you're not selling?

    You need a relevant ad (product listing) to send the traffic to - amazon won't give you any impressions if you're selling protein powder and are adding keywords that are for a completely different product like adult diapers or something.

    You need the product to be relevant to your keywords in your campaign - otherwise it wont show due to Amazon's algorithm. And if it does show by mistake, no one will click it and Amazon will stop showing it anyway as no one is clicking on that ad for the product its going to.

    Amazon's goal is to make money (apparently).
    They want the most relevant ads so more people click (they make money on the click) that will hopefully lead to a purchase (they make money on the sale). Having irrelevant ads is bad for amazon and for the consumer.
  • Do the 'sessions' in business reports include those driven through the ads? I was told by an amazon rep that they do not but this seems a little odd to me.
  • I'm wondering how to get the ad spot at the top of the page instead of on the side or bottom. There's one seller who always has the very top row on page one all to himself with a clickable arrow that says Shop Now➡️. Underneath the rectangular box of the ad in small letters it says 'ad feedback.' What kind of ad is that? That's what I want!

    Thanks Travis! (Maybe that's your ad.)
  • Hey @Sandra-Brooks-Bryant it's through Amazon Marketing Services -
  • Thanks Sammy!!
  • Is there a way to EXCLUDE keywords from Amazon's Automatic campaign?
  • nop
  • Hey, any suggestions on ads for variation listings ? Does the bid of each child listing affect the bid of other listings in the variation ?
  • Shay Luba said:

    Is there a way to EXCLUDE keywords from Amazon's Automatic campaign?

    There is now, in the auto campaign > ad group > keywords > add keywords > negative match

    PPCScope helps me to read campaign reports
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