Amazon PPC Basics: How to Get Started

As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon is the best place to promote your brand and sell to a wide audience. But it’s also the most competitive; in 2018 alone, more than one million sellers have joined the site.

One way to make your product stand out from the crowd is through advertising, and many sellers choose pay-per-click (PPC) adverts to get their stock noticed.
But not all of these sellers set up their PPC campaigns in a way that drives the best results.

Whether you’re new to selling on Amazon, or you want to increase clicks on your established products, if it’s done right, PPC boosts your search rankings and helps you to sell more.

The challenge is knowing how to set it up without it becoming an expensive drain on your time and resources.

To get you on the right track, here’s our introduction to Amazon PPC advertising, and how to create campaigns that generate sales without needing a massive marketing budget.

What is pay-per-click advertising – and why do you need it?

Pay-per-click advertising does exactly what it says on the tin: enables your business to launch campaigns where you only pay for the adverts that customers click on.

It’s a cost-effective way to raise your business profile because there’s no up-front fee, and you’re not wasting money on adverts that aren’t generating interest.

Today, nearly half of all consumers start their online search on Amazon, so PPC is a great way to promote your products at the point when shoppers are deciding which make, model or brand to purchase.

It also means you don’t have to rely on your stock just naturally appearing in consumers’ search results – you can give certain items an extra push when needed.

There are lots of examples where PPC campaigns can be used to boost the visibility of certain products and encourage shoppers to click through to your listing. These include:

  • Seasonal stock – such as weather-dependent items or products for special occasions like Christmas and Easter

  • Low-view products – items that are struggling to appear on the first page of results when potential customers search for an item

  • Highly competitive items – ensuring that your products appear alongside your biggest rivals in a highly competitive marketplace

  • Product launches – high visibility and immediate impact for items that are new to your online store


What types of PPC advertisement can I run on Amazon?

Amazon runs many different types of advertising opportunity, and its three most popular pay-per-click options are:

  1. Headline search — banner adverts that appear above customers’ search results

  2. Sponsored products – paid-for adverts that appear within customers’ search results, based on what they searched for

  3. Product display — adverts that appear on the pages of related products, for example competitor product pages

If you’re new to Amazon PPC, the best route forward is to keep it simple and focus on sponsored product campaigns initially.

This approach will blend your adverts in with the organic results so you’re right at the heart of Amazon’s search results – the only way you can tell the two apart is that the word ‘sponsored’ will appear by the description of advertised products.

How do I choose when my advert appears?

All of Amazon’s PPC advertising is based on what customers search for when visiting its site.

Amazon will analyze what shoppers type in before displaying what it believes are the best-fit products, based on the ‘keywords’ they are searching for. More on keywords in a moment.

Some of these search results will be organic; items appear because they are frequently clicked on or purchased by people who have searched for that particular keyword or phrase.

However, some of the results will be adverts, picked out because the keywords in those ads match the search words that the customer put in.

If you’re wondering how Amazon finds those keywords, it’s all to do with the way in which you create your product listing.
In the video below, Hans and I are sharing the key compontents of an optimized listing.



It will scroll through the following information, and create a list of what it believes are the most relevant keywords based on what you’ve written or tagged:

  1. Title
  2. Bullet points
  3. Product description
  4. Category ID

It’s worth reading our ultimate beginner’s guide to selling on Amazon for more information about your product listing.

So, returning to keywords, let’s say the title of your listing is ‘waterproof black pocket torch’. Amazon will identify that torch, black torch, waterproof torch and pocket torch are all relevant keywords.

For the most basic sponsored product campaigns, after Amazon has analyzed the listing for the product you want to feature, it will then automatically pull together a list of keywords that you should advertise against in order to run a campaign.

Do I have to let Amazon choose my PPC keywords?

In short, no.

There are two ways to approach sponsored products: the first is automatic targeting, which we’ve already mentioned. In this is the case, all you need to do is get your product listings ready and you can start creating your first PPC campaign.

This can be a simpler way to start out if you’re new to PPC advertising, but it’s not always the best way to work, because you don’t control exactly what Amazon is searching for – or how much those keywords will cost you per click.

As clever as Amazon is, sometimes it gets its analysis wrong, so you could be paying a considerable amount of money to appear on search results pages that aren’t relevant to what you’re selling.

The second approach is a manual campaign, where you decide what keywords you wish to search for. There are a number of things you must consider when choosing your keyword, including

1. Relevance 

Think logically about what you’d type into Amazon in order to find your product. This will help you to formulate a list of relevant keywords. The more specific or detailed you are, the fewer competitors you are likely to have for that search term.

For example, if you want to promote your new range of head torches, a large number of companies are likely to be running a PPC campaign for the word torch, but fewer will be creating a campaign for the term head torch.
Think about the use cases for your product too – fewer still will be running PPC ads for searches matching the phrase head torch for running, for instance.

The challenge is not to come up with the perfect keyword to describe your product, but to identify tens, hundreds or even thousands of keywords that people might search for and end up on your product page. 

It’s also important to note that you can start off with an automatic campaign and let Amazon choose your keywords for you, but then manually take over and delete any that aren’t relevant or add new keywords that you think it has missed.
Just be careful not to end up in a situation where you’re accidentally duplicating PPC advertising by having the same keyword in both an automatic and a manual campaign.

2. Price

When you start a PPC campaign, you’ll be asked to set two budgets.

The first is the overall amount you are willing to spend on advertising each day.
The second is the amount you’re willing to pay per click on each of your keywords, when someone sees and selects your product link. 

Sellers are invited to bid on the keywords you want to feature in their campaigns, in an auction-style system.

The more common or popular the keyword, the higher the price is likely to be: the average cost per click is $2.14 but this can increase dramatically when there is stiff competition for a keyword.

To go back to our earlier example, because more people have the keyword torch on their list, the maximum price for a click when searching with that keyword is going to be higher. However, the volume of people searching for the word torch is going to be higher than a more specific search term, so you may feel it’s worth the price.

Specific or obscure keywords tend to be cheaper because fewer people want to bid on them, and fewer people are clicking on them. This doesn’t make them less worthy, though; those that do search for that keyword tend to know exactly what they want, and so are more likely to click and convert.

When it comes to price, one thing to note is that Amazon will do its best to spend your total budget every day, using as many keywords as it needs to empty the pot.

So, you may want to be careful about the maximum price of each keyword – because if Amazon keeps finding people who are searching for your most expensive search term first, rather than trying harder to find cheaper keywords, the campaign is not likely to generate a huge volume of clicks each day. 

How do I set up an Amazon PPC campaign?

For Amazon vendors, the website has a self-service hub – called Amazon Marketing Services - through which you can manage pay-per-click campaigns.

Here, you can choose whether you want to set up an automatic campaign in which Amazon chooses your keywords, or a manual campaign where you’re in full control.

Launching an Amazon PPC campaign is a multi-step process, so we’re going to walk you through it in detail in an upcoming blog post.

Where can I get help with launching my Amazon PPC campaigns?

Amazon has some good information to help you get started with your sponsored product campaigns, but many sellers don’t have the time or knowledge to manage their PPC activities effectively.

That is why most of Amazon sellers turn to an Amazon PPC software. 

JudoPPC- a new AI powered PPC management tool that is launching soon not only helps you to set up a PPC campaign; our sophisticated technology can analyze your products and keywords to make sure that your advertising spend is driving as many relevant clicks as possible.

Join our waiting list for early access to JudoPPC’s Amazon Seller service, and we’ll help you to increase sales without PPC advertising draining your profits.

What's your experience with Amazon PPC? Let us know in the comments below.

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