Organizing Your Account
Sponsored Products accounts can quickly grow into complex and unmanageable beasts with just a few products. If you set up your account methodically, it will be easier to optimize later. Let’s look at exactly how to do that.
Grouping Your Products
If you didn’t care about ad performance then you could simply put all your products in one auto campaign and call it a day, but I’m going to guess you’re not here for that. Here are some guidelines for grouping your products to get the most out of your ads:
- Budget Control
- Budgets are controlled at the campaign level so if you want control over how much money you spend on a product, then make sure to give each product its own campaign and ad group.
- Keyword similarity
- Keywords are set at the ad group level, so make sure all of the products in an ad group are similar. Remember that Amazon won’t consider your ad if they deem the keyword not relevant to the product.
- Precise reporting
- Data reporting is done at the ad group level so for the best understanding of your ad performance, put each product in its own ad group.
We highly recommend that each SKU group has its own set of campaigns and that each SKU group contains either one SKU or variations of one product. If you have close variations (like size or color), grouping the variations can make your account more manageable. You can still put each SKU into its own ad group to gather more precise data.
From now on we will refer to a product group as a SKU group. We recommend organizing your SKU groups first in your notes, then putting each SKU group into its own campaign set in Amazon.
The structure you pick for the campaign set will vary based on how much effort you want to spend on managing them and to what extent you want to optimize your account. More groups mean more control and better results, but also more time managing.
Getting your campaign structure correct at the beginning is important because changing the structure means starting brand new campaigns. Without all that history, those campaigns will not perform as well and you will lose money catching up.
It’s a good idea to pick descriptive names for your SKU groups. Naming campaigns with the SKU or ASIN makes it difficult to find the campaign later if you are managing your campaigns in Seller Central.
- Good Names
- Yoga Mat - Auto
- Yoga Mat - Manual
- Yoga Mat - Broad
- Bad names
- A3-J39E-CI9O manual
- First campaign
The different types of campaign we’ve learned about so far are helpful at different points in the advertising process. Here is our recommended flow
- Auto campaign validation. First start with an auto campaign using the process laid out below. This will help validate that Amazon understands your listing. It will also help surface profitable keywords.
- Start the manual campaigns. Once your product is validated, start the manual campaigns with one ad group.
- Add additional ad groups. Once you have a campaign you can optionally create more ad groups in the campaign manager.
- Set the default bid in each ad group. Look back at your auto campaign data. What was the average CPC? A good starting default bid is between 1x to 1.5x that number. We’ll optimize this later. If the avg CPC was $0.50, then a default bid could be $0.50-$0.75.
- Set up the keywords. Seed each ad group in the manual campaigns with keywords from the auto campaign and add more from your own keyword list.
- Monitor and adjust bids. As your campaign collects data, you’ll adjust the bids to hit your goals.
- Transfer in or test new keywords over time. If new search terms start performing in the auto campaign or you think of new keywords add them to the manual campaigns.
Validating a Listing with an Auto Campaign
Auto campaigns serve a wonderful purpose beyond just advertising: they help validate whether Amazon understands your product listing. If you see search terms that aren’t related to your product getting a lot of impressions, you probably need some work on your listing.
How to Set Up an Auto Campaign to Test if Amazon Understands Your Listing.
- Go to the Campaign Manager in Seller central and click “Create Campaign”.
- Name your campaign and pick a daily budget. The higher your budget, the faster you will be able to draw a conclusion from your data. Don’t budget less than $10 per day. $20 is usually enough to get good results within a week. Set the default bid to $1.
- Click ”Continue to next step”. Name your ad group and pick the products you’ll be advertising. It’s critical that the SKU group contains either one SKU or closely related SKUs, like color or size variations of a product. Otherwise it will be difficult to draw conclusions from the data.
- Click “Save and Finish”.
- From the Campaign Manager, click on the new campaign and then then new ad group.
- Go to Ad Group Settings. Beneath the Default Bid box you will see Amazon’s suggested bid range. This might be a large range since it includes all of the keywords that Amazon thinks are relevant to your products. Since you want to know about all of those keywords, make sure your default bid is at least the maximum suggested bid.
- If you are on a tight budget, set your bid to the maximum of the bid range.
- If you are after the most complete data and fastest results, set the bid to 1.5x the maximum of the bid range.
- If you aren’t, check that the campaign is properly set up and that your products are eligible for advertising. (See Amazon's documentation for eligibility requirements)
- If you are getting impressions, do nothing.
- If most of the search terms are related to your product, you’re done! Congratulations on validating that Amazon understands your listing.
- If many of the search terms are not related to your product, then check that the listing category, back end keywords, title, bullet points, and description properly describe your product. If you find something that isn’t related to your product, change it and then check again next week whether the keywords that got impressions are more in line with your product.
Now that you’ve confirmed that Amazon understands your listing and you have an auto campaign running, you’ll need to create manual campaigns. These will let you get the most out of your ads. Before we cover the various ways to use manual campaigns, let’s look at a full Amazon Sponsored Ads setup to get a feel for the basic structure and how manual campaigns fit in.
The set of campaigns below is for an example SKU group with two similar products, a pink T-shirt and a blue one.
- The SKU group contains these two products because they are variations of the same product. Keeping variations within the same set of campaigns reduces the number of campaigns to manage
- Each SKU has its own ad group so that we can collect the most precise data and optimize the keywords and bids to each color.
- There are five campaigns.
- The auto campaign is the one that was used to validate the listings
- The keyword test campaign is used to see if new keywords perform
- Three other campaigns, one for each match type. Match types can perform substantially differently so this structure allows for budget control over each one. This allows you to spend more money on the match type that performs well.
This isn’t the only way to set up campaigns for a SKU group. Next we’ll look at several other methods along with the pros and cons of each, starting with the most simple.
One Campaign with One Ad Group
The bare bones structure for a SKU group is one campaign with one ad group. This makes it easy to setup and manage your campaigns, but is extremely difficult to optimize.
Auto + One Manual Campaign with One Ad Group
- Easy to set up
- Low maintenance
- Limited Performance
- Hard to optimize
Auto + One Manual Campaign with Ad Groups for Each Match Type
- Well balanced structure is easy to navigate in Seller Central
- Can’t control budget per ad group.
- New keywords need to be tested in the same manual campaign which might hurt performance history.
Auto + One Manual with Match Type Ad Groups + Keyword Test Campaign
- Easy to navigate in Seller Central
- Can be optimized to a high level
- Research campaign can be used to explore new keywords without negatively impacting the main manual campaign
- Can’t control budget per ad group.
Auto + Match Type Campaigns + Keyword Test Campaign
- Full control over budget for each match type
- Can be optimized to a high level
- Can be unwieldy if managing campaigns through Seller Central rather than through bulk uploads.
How Complex Can You Go?
The most control you can possibly have in Amazon Sponsored Products is to have one campaign for each of the three match types for every keyword, and for every product. It’s possible to manage this if you use the bulk tools and are good with Excel but if you have many keywords and products you quickly come up against the limit of 10,000 campaigns per account. Campaign click history also plays a role in a keyword’s auction performance and it’s hard to establish a compelling click history with just one keyword if the keyword is not high volume.
A Note on Special Campaigns
If you have a promotional variation of a product or a seasonal event then it makes sense to set up a new campaign to advertise for them, especially if you’re not sure how these new keywords will perform and you don’t want to bring down your existing campaign’s performance. Keywords that have a limited life span will need to be tracked and turned off after the event is over if you put them in an existing campaign or can all be paused at once if they’re in a new campaign.
You probably have a long list of keywords from when you set up your listing. If you want to expand that list, here are a few tools we recommend:
Amazon allows each ad group to have 1,000 keywords so be generous. Test out lots of keywords and see which ones are profitable.