Amazon Sponsored Products campaigns with automatic alignment should only be run for a short time and only in addition to campaigns with manual alignment. In this article, I will explain to you why automatically aligned ads primarily bring in money for Amazon and when they can still make sense.

Sponsored Products with automatic targeting – how does it work?

Setting up a Sponsored Products campaign with automatic targeting is very easy and can be done in just a few minutes. This seductive lightness may lead to automatic campaigns running longer than is actually reasonable. But first, let’s look at how to launch an auto-targeted campaign.

The process is almost identical to setting up a Sponsored Products campaign with manual alignment , which I have already described in detail and will therefore be brief here.

In Sellercentral you can go to your Advertising Central via “Manage advertising/campaigns”, which you can alternatively reach via this link . Here you click on the “Create new campaign” button and then select “Sponsored Products” from the three options.

In the next step, you specify a name, the start and end date of the campaign, if applicable, and the daily budget. Also select the “Automatic alignment” option here.

Set bid strategies

Next, you can set a bid strategy and choose one of the following three strategies:

  • Dynamic bids – lower only
  • Dynamic bids – raise and lower
  • Fixed bids

With a dynamic adjustment of your bids, you largely leave the field to Amazon’s artificial intelligence. Personally, I always choose the first option “just lower” – with “raise and lower” you take the risk of significantly increased advertising costs, even if these are supposed to be accompanied by an increased probability of a sale.

There is also the option of setting increased bids for particularly attractive advertising spaces such as the top positions on the first search results page.

Create ad group

In the next step you have to create an ad group with the articles to be advertised. You give the ad group a name and look for the items in your inventory that you want to advertise. In general, you should only choose one article per ad group. Many sellers even create a separate campaign for each item. However, if it is a matter of variants of an article, for example, you can also create an ad group for each variant and advertise them in a campaign.

Sponsored Products with automatic targeting – limited targeting

The nature of the auto-targeting campaign is that Amazon largely does the targeting for your campaign. Unlike with manual targeting, you cannot specify your own keywords for which your ads should be displayed, and you cannot choose whether the campaign is targeting keywords or products. Instead, your ads will be displayed for both keywords and related products. You can’t change this in an automatic campaign either.

What you can change, however, are keywords that your ads don’t matchshould be played out. So you can create a blacklist with terms that do not describe your article. You can choose between the match types PHRASE or EXACT. You will quickly notice that your ads are played out for all sorts of keywords that don’t make any sense to you at all.

This is exactly the main problem with automatically aligned Sponsored Products campaigns. An algorithm must first learn which key terms best describe your article and search for it accordingly. This learning phase takes a while and sometimes costs you a lot of money for completely pointless clicks. At the beginning of a campaign, you should therefore more often create a report with the search terms and blacklist search terms that definitely do not lead to a sale.

Issues with Sponsored Products with auto targeting

A few examples: If you’re selling an inexpensive no-name item, showing your ad about a premium vendor’s brand name in your category probably won’t lead to sales. Anyone looking for a Deuter trekking backpack will not buy your 35 dollar backpack. So a term for negative targeting could be interpreter for you. This prevents searches for Deuter backpacks from being answered with your ad and you from spending money on clicks that are unlikely to lead to sales (because people are looking for Deuter backpacks).

Another problem is that the algorithm is apparently not fed exclusively from the keywords in the article name, but is apparently also very category-based. So it can happen to you with your Deuter trekking backpack that your ads for search queries for all kinds of backpacks are played out. Accordingly, it can make sense to blacklist other search terms from the “backpack” field that have nothing to do with trekking backpacks. If you are looking for a daypack or a school backpack, for example, you will not buy your Deuter trekking backpack.

The word backpack is also far too unspecific as a search term to achieve a high conversion rate, because it is completely unclear whether the person who is looking for a backpack wants a trekking backpack, a daypack, a school backpack or who knows what. So I would also blacklist the keyword “backpack” in the EXACT match type. Caution: If her backpack was blacklisted in the PHRASE match type, you would no longer be matched to combos like Trekking Backpack either. So only blacklist the exact keyword.

Of course, it would be easier if you could do positive targeting, i.e. enter search terms for which you want to be displayed. But that doesn’t work for ads with automatic alignment, only for manual alignment – and that’s one of the main reasons why you should switch from automatic to manual alignment very quickly or let them run side by side for a while.

Campaigns with automatic targeting can produce both positive and negative keywords, which you can then use in a much more targeted manner in a manual campaign.

How useful is product targeting in the automatic campaign?

As mentioned above, while Sponsored Products manual targeting campaigns allow you to choose whether to target by keyword or product, with auto-targeting campaigns you always have both. What sounds like an advantage is a prime money hog. At least in the categories I sell in, automatic product targeting has a lousy conversion rate. Virtually no sales result from the clicks on my ads that are displayed on product pages.

While you can sharpen the keyword targeting a bit with the negative list, you don’t have this option with product targeting. You can also put products on the negative list, but then Amazon simply displays your ads for other products. Product targeting cannot be switched off.

If any of you have had positive experiences with product targeting in automatic ads, please let me know in the comments.

Why Auto-Target Sponsored Products?

Many of you who have read the article up to this point may be wondering why even run auto-targeting campaigns when conversion is poor and customization options are few.

The answer is, because with the auto-targeted campaign, you identify the keywords that are doing well and leading to a lot of sales. If you were to only set up a manual targeting campaign to begin with, you would only use the keywords that you think are converting well. It’s possible that keywords that perform particularly well will slip through your fingers here because you don’t even have them on the slip of paper. The automatic campaign, on the other hand, provides you with valid results. You can see how many impressions a certain keyword had, how many clicks, what the clicks cost and how much revenue you made with it.

With this database, you can always sharpen your manually aligned campaign, adjust the bids for individual keywords, put keywords that convert poorly or not at all on the negative list and thus optimize your Acos, i.e. the ratio between advertising costs used and sales achieved.

Amazon Sponsored Products campaign with automatic targeting – conclusion

Sponsored Products Auto-Target campaigns are valuable keyword suppliers early on because you can see in the reports exactly how many clicks on which keywords resulted in how many sales. In this way, you can run a second, manually aligned campaign based on solid data and reduce the advertising costs used.

You can read everything about Ebay and Amazon in my book “ Selling Successfully on Ebay, Amazon & Co ”, which I would like to recommend to every beginner. The book is a comprehensive guide not only for selling on Amazon but also for getting started with online business. From business registration, funding opportunities and tax issues to purchasing goods, packaging, shipping and payment solutions to marketing, search engine optimization and rounded off with lots of legal tips on consumer protection, trade and trademark law, this is the ultimate reader for beginners and advanced users in the world from Ebay & Amazon.


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