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AMS Now Has Negative Keyword Support for Auto Campaigns

November 2019

Targeting the right keywords in your sponsored ad campaigns is a successful strategy to get shoppers to your product on Amazon. But it’s just as important to avoid keywords that are not relevant to your campaigns. Negative keywords help you achieve more efficient targeting and consequently increase your return on ad investment.

Historically, adding negative keywords to Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) was a manual and clunky process that could only happen through Amazon’s API. However, Amazon has recently announced that it now has negative keyword support in its UI on advertising.amazon.com.

This blog will explore what negative keywords are, why they are an important part of your Amazon strategy, and how to navigate this important feature now that Amazon supports it in AMS for Auto Campaigns.

What Are Negative Keywords?

Negative keywords on Amazon work the same way as they do with Google and Bing ads. They prevent your ad from showing up on the Amazon results page when someone searches for a term you have specified as a negative keyword. For example, if you are a kitchenware retailer that sells stemless wine glasses, you may want to bid on the broad search term “glasses”. But a consumer may come along and type “glasses” into the search bar looking for reading glasses. If the reading glasses consumer clicks on your ad for wine glasses, they probably aren’t very likely to purchase and it can drive up costs.

By preventing your ad from showing up on irrelevant searches, you not only decrease costs associated with shoppers clicking on your ad, but you increase the relevancy of your ads as well. Relevant ads get more clicks, and more purchases, which in turn allows your ads to get served more and perform better.

There are two types of negative keyword match types on Amazon:

  • Phrase match negative keyword: prevents your ad from showing when the search content contains the same phrase or close variation (e.g., plural, misspelling) of your search term
  • Exact match negative keyword: prevents your ad from showing when any search term precisely matches your negative keyword

Why Are Negative Keywords on Amazon Important?

According to Amazon, 70% of visitors will start their visit to Amazon.com with a search. Broad match keywords will provide you with traffic from a wide-range of searches that are broadly related. Negative keywords help narrow down your targeting and ensure that you only show up for relevant searches. You should use negative keywords in your Amazon campaigns because:

  • They reduce costs from irrelevant or unwanted clicks
  • They will prevent you from paying for clicks that don’t turn into conversions
  • They can increase click-thru-rate, allowing you to have your ads shown more frequently
  • They can lower your ACoS (advertising cost of sales) which is calculated by ad spend divided by revenue

How to Correctly Add Negative Keywords on Amazon Advertising

There are many ways to add negative keywords on Amazon ad campaigns. The first way to add them is when creating or updating your Auto-targeted Sponsored Product campaigns. Auto campaigns are useful for broadly targeting keywords and ASINs (i.e., products). But if you aren’t careful, your Auto campaigns will also target your brand keywords and therefore inflate your performance. Add negative phrase match keywords of your branded terms (or negative exact match if your branded terms are highly generic in nature) and your ASINs for all of your Non-brand Auto campaigns. You can run an Auto-targeted brand campaign, but we recommend sticking with only Manual-targeted branded campaigns so you can really control those more tightly and ultimately maximize your efficiency.

NOTE: It is very important to separate your campaigns for brand keywords versus non-brand keywords. Branded keywords include your brand name or your branded product name (e.g., Airpods, iPhone, etc if your brand is Apple). Non-brand keywords do not include a brand name or branded product name, and are sometimes referred to as category keywords. If a keyword includes your competitors’ brand name or branded product name, it is technically a non-brand keyword and we refer to it as competitor keywords or “conquesting” keywords. Your Return on Ad Sales (ROAS) will be much higher for branded keywords than non-branded keywords because branded keywords indicate that the end-consumer already knows your brand, whereas non-branded keywords indicate that the end-consumer likely does not already have intent to purchase from your brand.

 

If you’re already up and running with Auto campaigns, Customer Search Term reports should be your primary resource when building up negative keyword lists. This report will show you each of the actual search terms the customer searched for on Amazon that triggered one of your ads to show. Remember that each customer searches a little differently, and because campaigns can include broad and phrase match keywords, the actual search term the customer searched for will deviate slightly or vastly from the actual keywords you’re targeting. In these reports, you will also be able to view the ACoS, conversion rate, spend and sales associated with the particular customer search term. This report is found under the ‘Advertising Reports’ tab in the Amazon Advertising interface.

It’s important to note that once you have selected your date range and are ready to download this report, you will only be able to view data from up to three months of historical data. Fortunately, Amazon will save past reports that you have manually downloaded, so you can refer to past search term reports at anytime.

Generally, you want to add Customer Search Terms with high spend and few or zero sales as negative keywords. Taking unprofitable customer search terms and adding them as negative keywords should improve your brand’s profit margins. However, if your brand’s primary objective is to maximize sales instead of profitability, this will heavily influence which customer search terms should be added as negative keywords.

For example, if your brand has identified “strategic keywords”, or important keywords relevant to your brand, then it may be beneficial to bid on these terms, despite how unprofitable it may be. Over time, you could see an improvement in organic ranking for these keywords, which will likely lead to significant lift in the long term. This would be a situation where adding negative keywords should only be reserved for truly irrelevant customer search terms; not search terms that are just not profitable. Therefore, be sure to consider your brand’s overall objectives before adding your negative keywords.

When you have finally selected which customer search terms you want to add as negative keywords, simply go into one of your campaigns and click on the ‘Negative Keywords’ tab.

Negative keywords are an important part of your Amazon advertising strategy. We have been leveraging negative keywords in AMS for Auto campaigns for years thanks to our Amazon Advertising API partner, Prestozon, but now it’s easier than ever to manage this on Amazon for us and you as well.

How are you ensuring that you are managing your advertising cost of sales? Interested in learning more? Contact Amplio Digital today.

 

Topics: Amazon AMS Keywords

Kevin Weiss
Written by Kevin Weiss

Kevin is the VP of Growth & Strategy for Amplio Digital and has been with the company since 2014. Kevin drives growth for Amplio and Amazon strategy for its clients. His team manages over $250MM in annual GMV on Amazon for brand manufacturers across North America and EMEA.

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