Sponsored Products ads have become an increasingly important factor in driving sales on Amazon. Last year, the number of sellers using Sponsored Products grew by over 100 percent, with the number of clicks on Sponsored Products ads up by over 150 percent.
The end of incentivized product reviews in October 2016 has no doubt played a part in this, as sellers have had to find new ways to promote their products. But it’s not the only factor. Amazon is more competitive than ever, and changes to search result pages have given more and more prominence to Sponsored Products. The ads now account for at least the top three results in the majority of searches. If you aren’t using them, you’re less visible to buyers than ever before.
Now Seller Labs, the company behind leading Amazon seller tools Feedback Genius, Scope and Quantify, have released Ignite. It’s a complete system for Sponsored Products ads, replacing the need to use Seller Central, and adding innovative features to help sellers select the most effective keywords, analyze their performance and optimize their ad spend.
Contrary to popular belief, Sponsored Products ads are of value to all sellers – not only those who “own” their own listing such as private labelers. The ads are only shown when the seller is winning the Buy Box, or is one of the sellers in the Buy Box rotation. So, sellers who aren’t winning the Buy Box consistently can still use Sponsored Products, and buyers who click their ad will see a customized product listing where the advertiser is the only seller. In summary, if you pay for the click, you will get the sale.
In this post I’ll look at three key challenges for sellers using Amazon Sponsored Products: keyword selection, reporting and optimization. I’ll explain how sellers handle those challenges right now, and how Ignite helps turn them to your advantage.
Challenge #1: Keyword selection
The method adopted by most sellers to identify keywords is to run automatically targeted campaigns. With automatic campaigns, Amazon will choose all your keywords for you and get your ads running quickly. That generates a search term report, which can be used to create manually targeted campaigns with the best performing keywords.
This can be an effective process, but it has two major drawbacks. The first is that it takes between seven and thirty days to receive any actionable data, depending on how you set your budget and bids.
The second is that an automatically targeted campaign tends to advertise on a vast number of keywords, most of which will end up being irrelevant. By casting a wide net to try and identify which keywords work, you will often waste hundreds of dollars.
Keyword selection with Ignite
Using Ignite to find keywords can save both time and money. Using real data, it generates a list of keywords for which your product already ranks organically on Amazon, including the search position for each keyword. So, if my product was a gnome it might rank second for “lawn ornament” but twentieth for “collectible figurine”.
By avoiding the need to use automatic campaigns, Ignite saves the money wasted on irrelevant keywords and can get an effective campaign started a lot sooner.
Ignite will also automatically deselect keywords which are very similar in meaning, so likely to match the same search terms. For example, “wood” and “wooden” do not both need to be included. Overlapping keywords like that spread your budget out and reduce the amount of data available for each one, making it difficult to analyze their effectiveness. Ignite helps avoid that problem and get better data to optimize your campaigns.
Challenge #2: Reporting
Getting data from Seller Central on your campaigns can be frustrating, as the reporting features are fairly basic. Here are some of the areas where it is lacking:
- The data only covers the last 60 days
- No charts to see campaign performance at a glance
- Reports have to be requested then downloaded later when they are ready
- You need to be proficient with Excel to interpret the data
There are other third-party tools which improve on the reporting in Seller Central, but they don’t allow you to directly take action based on the data. Instead, you have to copy-and-paste from the reporting tool back into Seller Central, which can be time-consuming and easily go wrong.
Reporting with Ignite
Ignite is unique among Sponsored Products tools, as it combines reporting and the ability to take action on Amazon.
Practically everything you can do in Seller Central you can do in Ignite. If you decide to make a change after viewing data in Ignite, you simply hit the “action” button and the change will be made immediately on Amazon.
The interface is easier to use than Seller Central, as charts make it simple to view the success of campaigns over time. You can also see the impact of any changes you make to a campaign, such as changing bids or adding keywords.
You can see your data without having to download reports, and there is no need to use Excel. Pre-built filters allow you to easily find unprofitable keywords and your best performers, for example.
Sellers also benefit from a richer set of data. When you sign up to Ignite, it immediately starts building on the 60 days of data available from Amazon. Historic data is never deleted, so it continues to grow as long as you use the tool. So, for example, on day one you will have 60 days of historic data and on day 100 you will have 160 days of data.
Challenge #3: Optimization
However you access your Sponsored Products data, it requires a depth of knowledge to use it to make the right decisions.
For example, it can be hard to decipher from your data when to bid more on a keyword, how much you should bid, and when to add negative keywords. It’s easy to waste time and money by making the wrong decisions.
Optimization with Ignite
This is where Ignite’s suggestions come in. Based on industry best practices and in-depth discussions with experts, the suggestions allow sellers to run a campaign without being highly skilled with Sponsored Products.
So for example, if a keyword had 22 clicks in the last 148 days at a cost of $5.34, but no conversions, Ignite would suggest making it a negative keyword, so you would not bid on it anymore. You can then accept or reject the suggested change. If you accept, you are asked for confirmation then the change is automatically made – without needing to visit Seller Central.
Ignite can make around 12 different types of suggestions, including:
- Adding negative keywords, as described above
- Changing keywords from broad to exact matches
- Lowering bids for keywords that are costing too much
- Raising bids for cost-effective keywords to generate more sales
Suggestions are based on your advertising cost of sale (ACoS) targets, and are given a score for statistical confidence and importance. The score helps you determine which suggestions to accept.
The long-term goal with Ignite is for sellers to check their performance once a week, and simply accept or reject the suggestions that have been generated.
It’s important to note that there will always be a need for a basic level of education to manage and use Sponsored Products, and Seller Labs is creating videos and other reference materials to address that need. What Ignite does is make it much more accessible, efficient and cost effective to use this important form of advertising on the Amazon marketplace.
Seller Labs offers a free 30-day trial of Ignite, after which there are five different paid plans. Each plan has a maximum number of Ignite Managed Campaigns, which come with the whole range of Ignite’s features. Over that maximum, an unlimited number of standard campaigns can be managed in Ignite, with functionality in line with Seller Central.
So, if you have ad campaigns that are stable and effective, you don’t have to pay extra to manage them in Ignite and instead can concentrate on campaigns that are not currently cost-effective, or are for new products. However, Ignite can manage current Sponsored Products campaigns, as well as set up new campaigns, if you choose to use it for that.
Ignite really takes Amazon Sponsored Products to a new level, providing vital keyword selection, reporting and optimization features to help you create cost-effective campaigns that drive additional sales.
This post was sponsored by Seller Labs.