FAQs – Answers to Popular Amazon PPC Questions


I get asked a lot for advice on managing PPC campaigns.  I thought I would put some of the most popular questions on my website to help more people.  Here they are in no particular order.  Thanks once again for looking.


How Do I Negative Match an ASIN?


Unless you are using software to help you manage your PPC, the only way to block ads for a poor-performing competitor ASIN is to place the competitor’s brand name in Negative Phrase Match.  This will stop some of the wasted spend.


Why Should I Not Simply Target Exact Match Keywords?


For around 12-18 months Amazon’s PPC algorithm has been considering buyer intent before matching their search to a keyword in your ad campaigns. 


It is generally accepted that the algorithm sends approximately 20% of search enquiries to Exact campaigns.  This percentage is based on buying intent.  It considers, amongst other things, other items they have bought, what days they tend to order or window shop, and what the search term is like.  If it believes that they are likely to buy, it will look to the Exact campaign for closely matching keywords.


If your strategy is to only use Exact Match campaigns, you could be missing out on 80% of searches.  It is best to have keywords in each of the match types, at the same CPC until the data shows you which match type performs best for which keywords.  


What Should Look for if My Campaigns Suddenly Perform Poorly?

I would first check the following:

IF LOW CVR – if your conversion rate is low it can be because of a few reasons; poor product value against competitors, a lack of social proof e.g., few ratings, poor keyword relevance, or something about your listing is confusing buyers.

IF LOW CTR – if the clickthrough rate is below 0.20% this indicates poor keyword targeting.  Either the shoppers are seeing your ads but not clicking them because they think that there is a poor match for your keyword, or their is a disconnect between what you think is relevant and what the algorithm thinks; therefore your ads could be appearing for irrelevant search terms – check out your ad reports.

IF HIGH CPC – this would indicate that there is heavy competition.  It could be better for your listing to focus on long-tail keywords with fewer competitors and also that incorporate the higher-searched seed keywords. If Amazon does not have a CPC value when first adding keywords to an ad group, it can be that it does not place value on that keyword because it does not have supporting data.  This would potentially indicate a worthless target.  You need a balance somewhere in between.

FEW IMPRESSIONS – this shows that the algorithm does not have trust that your ads will receive clicks for a given keyword.  This might be because of being in the wrong category, or your title is confusing the algorithm and doesn’t quite know where to place your ad, or your bids/budget are not high enough.

LOW DENSITY – Look through an ad group and consider how many keywords are showing impressions in relation to the total number of keywords in your ad group (per SKU).  If the majority of keywords have no impressions after 2-3 months of being live then you need to do more keyword research, and consider which keywords are recommended by Amazon for your product, and where do you rank for those?  Helium 10 can help with this data.  

You will often have a minority of keywords in an ad group that outperform the rest, however, you should have a decent number of impressions across the other keywords.  Those that are not getting impressions might improve if they are removed from that campaign and placed in a new one.  It might be that your budget is being eaten up by the performing keywords leaving no money to activate ads for the other keywords.


Should I Keep My Auto Campaigns Running?




It depends on your strategy.  Auto campaigns are normally used to discover keywords that the algorithm thinks are suitable for your product.  So, this is important data to have but you don’t want to do nothing with that information.  Migrate the successful keywords from Auto into manual campaigns for further research.  Block the keyword from Auto campaigns only once it has begun to perform well in a manual ad group.  Increase the CPC for the manual, so that is more than that of the Auto.



Auto campaigns can be useful for identifying competitor ASINs that are either making or costing you money.





What’s the Best Strategy to Rank a Product for Specific Keywords? 

You need to focus on search terms that have the highest conversion rate for the lowest competition, and you need to be able to beat the competitor products that appear either on your listing, or around where your ad appears.  It is better (subject to the maturity of your campaigns) to narrow your focus on winning search terms and then aggressively bid on them via Exact, and Phrase Match only.

Then if your budget allows it, increase the percentage for top of the page positioning for the best of those keywords.  Then split test different search terms, and different percentages over a 4-6 week period to see which perform the most profitably.  Ensure that those keywords are also positioned in your product description and backend keywords, while being aware that there will also be high-performing organic keywords in your listing that you don’t want to affect.  A reverse ASIN report for your product might help build a good strategy.

What’s the Difference Between Negative Targeting, & Negative Keywords? 

Negative Targeting blocks the ads from showing on other brands/listings, while Negative Keywords block ads on search terms that are within your ad groups and campaigns.

Negative Exact Match is best for long-tail keywords.  Negative Phrase Match is best for one-two word phrases.

I had a Good-Performing Keyword with Low ACoS but when I Increased the Budget without Altering the Bids the Performance Drops.  What is Happening? 

An increase budget will increase your daily ad presence and as a consequence it might place you against different competitors, or bump up your sponsored ranking for a keyword as other sellers run out of budget.  This changing of ad placement might position it against better competition.  You need to check who your ads appear against for your target keywords and make sure that your offer is better, or more convincing.

If a Keyword does Well/Bad, will Giving it More Time Equate to Better Results? 

Not necessarily.  The algorithm presents your ads differently for each ad type and for each shopper.  This is affected by the buying intent of the audience, the matching of their search term to whichever keyword it chooses, and the quality score of your campaigns.  As these are fluid metrics your keyword performance is also likely to fluctuate.

By reviewing the search terms in your ad reports and observing which keywords they are channeled through, and whether or not there are more relevant keywords in your ad group that should have been activated, will tell you whether good keyword “juice” is being funneled through the keywords you are targeting.  If there are bad search terms dragging down the effectiveness of a keyword, doing nothing at all will only likely exacerbate the problem.

Why is My Ad Hardly Showing for Search Terms? 


There can be several reasons.  Your ads are new and the algorithm needs to build up trust that they will get clicks for the keywords within them.  Another reason might be that your keywords are duplicated across the front and back end content fields within a listing, or those content fields have exceeded their character limits.  If you are selling in a niche, you might have keywords blocked that are considered sensitive.  Your bids are too low and competitors are taking all the ad space for the common keywords.  And finally, your negative matched keywords might be applied too liberally causing friction between the phrases your ads should appear/be blocked for.





What is the Campaign Quality Score Based On? 

At the time of writing this post, the main metrics are Campaign Age, Total Clicks, and Average Clickthrough Rates per Ad Group/Campaigns.

Are My Ads Competing with Each Other? 

I get asked this a lot.  No, your ad bids will not compete with themselves and drive the cost per click up.  Amazon is considering how compelling your product is for a given set of keywords, and there is a high interest i.e., high clicks in ratio to the number of ad impressions, then it will trust that your product will continue to get clicks, and consequently, over time, your CPC will reduce for the higher ranking positions.  

If for example, a competitor has exactly the same keywords at precisely the same cost per click, your ad will appear above those if your Campaign Quality Score (see above) is better.

What Should I do with My Campaigns if I am Running Out of Stock? 

I would recommend that you focus your ads only on high-converting search terms that maintain or improve your organic keyword ranking.

If the product does run out of stock, you might want to consider closing your listing (not deleting, but “closing”).  This will slow down the drop in BSR while out of stock, however, it is meant as a short-term strategy of around two weeks.

My Ads are Not on Top but My Bid is Super-High, why? 

It is because your Campaign Quality Score is lower than other sellers.  The key metrics affecting this will be a) your current and historical clickthrough rate, and b) your conversion rate.  If this is happening, until you can improve those metrics, you might want to consider targeting other keywords until your metrics improve.  This does not mean to stop targeting the current keywords, but perhaps reduce their daily spend while increasing spend on phrases that will secure you the top positions.

Research* shows how the top ranked positioned ads do not get the lion’s share of clicks as expected.  The clickthrough quantity varies throughout the whole of the first page of search results, which are quite consistent throughout.  Clickthrough rates improve dramatically once a buyer searches using the Amazon search bar.  This might seem like a strange comment, however, the majority of buyers arrive at an Amazon page via a Google search and they do not always continue to manually search further, when they do, the chances of them buying increases significantly.

The take-home point here is to also research Google keywords for your product type and match the best keywords into your title and URL so that your product will appear high in Google’s search results.  This means that once a shopper discovers your item they will either buy it, or leave Amazon.  This means that you will severely limit competition to only those that appear alongside your product on the product sales page.

You might want to incorporate Google keywords into your ad campaigns as it is likely that a shopper will use the identical search phrase in Amazon that they did in Google.   

So, I hope you found those answers of interest.  I will be adding more questions to this page as I get them.  If you want to stay on top of the “knowledge” then simply fill out the form below and you will get an email whenever a blog is updated or posted.

Thanks for reading!



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