Gears icon and text reading: Amazon ad strategy: manual and automatic targeting

Amazon Ad Strategies: Manual & Automatic Targeting

One of our favorite Amazon ad targeting strategies is running two versions of the exact same Sponsored Listing: one with Manual keyword targeting, and the other with Automatic keyword targeting. This may initially seem like a strange way to spend your marketing budget, but there’s a method to the madness! Amazon’s advertising system actually makes this one of the best ways to increase ad-based revenue, organic conversion, and overall sales. Here’s how:

What’s the difference between Manual and Automatic targeting, anyway?

When a customer types in a phrase to search for a product, Amazon decides whether to display your ad in search results based on whether the keywords associated with your ad fit their search terms (among other factors). The difference in targeting is simply the keywords being used:

  • Manual uses only keywords that you add into the campaign, and no other terms.
  • Automatic uses a dynamic set of keywords “created” by Amazon, drawn from your listing’s content (bullets, title, description, additional fields, backend keywords, etc.).

While you don’t get data on the Automatic campaign keywords Amazon used, you do get the terms the shopper used to find your product. And that is one of the most powerful pieces of information you can get: real time data on how customers are searching for your products.

So why does this mean we should run two identical campaigns?

  • Better keywords mean better conversions.
    • No matter how extensive your research was when you made your Manual targeted campaign’s keyword list, it’s still missing data from your most relevant demographic: Amazon shoppers looking for your item. You can use Auto targeted campaigns to find terms shoppers are using to discover your item – and analyze how well those terms convert to sales. This allows you to dramatically improve the efficiency of your Manual targeted campaigns by adding in more relevant keywords. It’s like overseeding a lawn: no matter how well you tend your yard, there will be places you missed when you originally rolled out that sod, and thin spots that need extra coverage.
  • Your Auto campaign’s bidding is limited.
    • Automatic campaign CPC bids are set at the campaign level. This means you can’t get good data on where to set that bid for maximum efficiency. But you can use the data from your Manual campaign – and especially from the performance of keywords you imported from the Auto campaign data – to improve performance and keep ACoS low.
  • It’s not a waste of money.
    • You can get powerful data from running duplicate campaigns, and use it to further optimize them and improve your ROI. You can also use that data to improve your product listings. Worried about the campaigns competing against each other? Don’t be – Amazon’s algorithms automatically prevent infighting between ads in the same account. Thinking of running alternating Auto and Manual campaigns to save money? You’ll actually hobble your ad performance since Amazon favors campaigns that have been running for longer periods of time. In nearly every case, simultaneous ads will give you more bang for your buck.

There is, of course, a catch. Listing optimization is paramount. The Automatic version of Amazon ad targeting primarily uses your listing’s copy and keywords to match an ad to a customer’s search terms. This means that your listing quality plays a large role in your Automatic campaign’s success. To maximize your sales and conversions, make sure your Amazon listings are optimized.

The takeaway? Capitalizing on data generated from strategic Amazon ad targeting is a key component of ongoing optimization. It’s one of the ways Digital Brandworks leverages e-commerce marketplace data to continuously improve your sales and revenue. Curious about what else we can do? Give us a shout.

Tiger Paton

Tiger Paton was the Creative Lead at Digital Brandworks, a digital consultancy that provides customized solutions for improving marketplace performance on Amazon and beyond.

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