Manually Optimizing Your Sponsored Products Ads

Advertising on Amazon Seller Central is a powerful way to drive additional traffic to your listings. But making the most of your advertising dollars is important to every Amazon Seller. The Amazon platform has sellers of all different sizes – from one-person businesses to multinational corporations – and all of them are competing for the same advertising keywords. How can the advertising budgets of small Amazon Sellers compete with those of large corporations? Through optimizing your Sponsored Ads on Seller Central.

There are many powerful tools available to Amazon Sellers to automate their campaign optimization, like Efficient Era's Ads tool. It is also important to know how to manually optimize your campaigns as well and identify opportunities for you to compete with the huge brands on Amazon. That’s why our team at AMZ Advisers put together this step-by-step optimization guide, and wants to share our best tips for manually optimizing your Amazon advertising campaigns.

Getting your first ads up and running on Seller Central is an exciting experience! But starting small will help you maximize your advertising budget. Here is how we recommend getting your Amazon advertising campaigns optimized:

1. Start out advertising with auto campaigns

We believe that starting with automatic campaigns is the first step to having optimized advertising campaigns. Auto campaigns allow Amazon to select what search results to show your product for based on the category, content and keywords you have in your listing. They will look for relevant products to yours and test how the product does when it shows up in a search result for a specific keyword.

Auto campaigns utilize a Broad match type on Amazon by default. This means that any customer search that contains one of the keywords Amazon is testing can give your product an impression. This can however lead to your auto campaigns spending money on a super competitive keyword or irrelevant keyword unnecessarily.

For example, think of the keyword ‘nail’. If you are selling nail beauty products, your ad will be showing up for the hardware supply – and the chances of getting some one shopping for hardware to buy a beauty product is slim to none. Look at your Search Term Reports and see if there are words that you have a high spend on but no or low conversions. You should add those as negative keywords with an exact match type to prevent you spending on that keyword, but not prevent you showing up for something like ‘nail polish’ in broad search. Negative phrase match will prevent any keyword with ‘nail’ from getting impressions.

Start with a small advertising budget on an automatic campaign, but make sure your bids are high enough to get impressions. We recommend letting these campaigns run for a few weeks to really allow you to build a better keyword data set.

2. Build out manual campaigns with your best performing keywords

Download your search term reports and start looking through the data for which keywords are performing the best. We always start searching by for the keywords with the highest sales and lowest ACOS. Start making a list of these keywords so you can add them into the manual campaign.

Have you ever noticed that your Search Term Reports contain a large amount of ASINs and wondered what that means? It means that Amazon has been displaying your product on the ASIN’s product detail page because it believes it is relevant to what customers visiting that listing are interested in. Using an ASIN as a search term is not going to help you in a manual campaign however. What you could consider doing if you have ASINs that your product converts well on is using a keyword research tool to see what keywords those ASINs are indexed for. Add those keywords to your list as well.

You should also consider looking for long tail keywords. These types of keywords are much less competitive, and can provide a nice added return to your advertising campaigns. There are many different products that can help you identify long tail keywords. You can also just go to the Amazon home page and start entering different keyword combinations to see what pops up!

Now that we have a list of keywords to target we need to create the manual campaign. Add these keywords to your campaign as a Phrase match type. This will help optimize your campaign to focus more on the terms you are entering. Set up your campaign with a higher budget than your automatic campaigns, and adjust your bids to be competitive in the suggested range. Bidding over the range is going to cause you to run out of budget early in the day. We recommend being towards the top of the range, but not the highest bidder.

We believe you should also keep your auto campaigns running to continue to do additional keyword research. Lower the bids to prevent under necessary spending. You should check your Search Term reports on a regular basis to see if other keywords start performing will for you product and add them to your manual campaigns.

3. Managing your manual campaigns on an ongoing basis

This is where the majority of the optimization work will occur – and it will require continued testing of keywords and bids. Amazon’s advertising sales data also has a two-day lag, so you will need to be patient to view the data. A keyword could have a high spend initially and not reflect any sales until after two days. We typically look at adjusting or optimizing keyword bids twice a week. This allows us to get a better view of how the changes we make effect the campaign.

You may find that the main keywords related to your product have an incredibly high bid. This may not provide the best return on your advertising dollars. Keyword bids on Amazon have increased dramatically over time and we only expect that the cost will continue to increase. Spending $5 per click on the keyword ‘cat toy’ may not provide the same return as a long tail keyword like ‘cat toy for older cats.’ The bidding competition can be lower which will improve the overall ACOS of your campaigns.

If you are spending high amounts on main keywords such as ‘cat toy,’ not seeing a good return on the ad spend, and burning through your daily budgets early, you need to consider adding that as negative keyword with an exact match type to prevent continually wasting your money.

You could also find that certain keywords are providing a great return at a low cost. Increasing the bid could be the right move, but we believe it depends on the bid range and the price of your product. When the range is less than 10% of your sales price positioning yourself slightly below the highest bidder initially could help further increase your sales. If that seller burns through their budget early in the day then you are in a great position for your ads to reach more shoppers later in the day – where our research shows that more than 60% of purchases occur.

The final thing you need to consider doing is introducing exact match types for your best performing keywords. An exact match means that your keyword will only show up when a shopper enters that exact search term. The spend on exact match keywords is typically lower – unless you are going after main keywords like ‘cat toy’ in our previous example. However, that lower spend can also lead to a great ACOS when your ad does convert.

Following all the steps detailed above can help you to create incredibly optimized advertising campaigns. Competing with every other Amazon Seller is tough and you need whatever advantage you can to get ahead. If an advertising optimization program is not an option for you at the moment, you really need to thoroughly review your campaigns to improve them. Dedicating the time and effort required to manually optimize your sponsored ads on Amazon Seller Central will help you maximize your advertising dollars. Make the most of your budgets and take our guide above and continue to test new things to see how they work for you!

Once you start growing your product catalog on Amazon, managing your sponsored products campaigns with thousands of keywords manually will no longer be a good use of your time. At that point, taking the help of PPC agencies like AMZ Advisers, or automation tools like Efficient Era are both great ways to achieve sustainable growth on Amazon.

About the Author

Mike Begg is the co-founder of AMZ Advisers, AMZ Lens and Precisely. Mike and his team have been able to achieve incredible growth on the Amazon platform for their clients by optimizing and managing their accounts, creating in-depth content marketing strategies and running effective off-platform marketing campaigns.

We are now PPC Ninja!
PPC Ninja offers PPC Tools and Consulting Services to Amazon Sellers. Visit us at
Subscribe To the PPC Ninja Blog


* indicates required