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I know I’ve spoke about Amazon Sponsored Products before. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is Amazon’s Pay Per Click (PPC) channel.

In my post about trialling PPC Entourage I mentioned that you can do a lot of it yourself, by downloading the reports and applying filters.

This may not be that sophisticated and it can be time consuming – particularly if you’re selling multiple products in multiple marketplaces – but, it is free and you can do much of what you can do on paid software.

I’m not going to go into the details of how to set up campaigns, ad-groups, match-types, etc.  I’ll assume you know this already. This Jungle Scout article also explains it really well if you do want an overview.

So, let’s get started

1. Advertising reports have just changed.  

They’re still found in the same place (Reports > Advertising), but they now look a bit different.

You now have the option to choose your report type, period (date range) and whether you want to see total data for the date range you select, or whether you want it broken down by day.

Amazon screenshot  Amazon Seller Central screenshot

So far, I have only looked at search terms and I’m going to focus on that here.  Once I get more time to look into the others, I’ll share if I find anything useful.

A few more things to note before we go any further:

  • I can’t get the new reports to show up in Safari on my Mac.  (I have to use Chrome.) Hopefully this is a bug, which will get fixed soon.
  • The reports now download in .xlxs, rather than .txt.  This is great, as previously you had to download them as text files, open in Exel and re-save as a new file type.
  • Reports now generate pretty much instantly (rather than waiting for 5-10 minutes as we did previously).

You can also choose the name of your report – which is handy if you’re downloading reports for multiple countries.

2. Once you have your downloaded report, open it up.

You will see this contains data for all of your campaigns.

What I do, to keep it simple, is copy the headings across to new tabs, then paste in the data for each product / ad group – so I end up with a tab per product or group of products.

You can do this per campaign if you wish. I just like to see how my products are doing across all campaigns.

This helps keep it simpler, as once you start filtering, you’re looking at one campaign at a time.

3. You will see a lot of columns.  

Some of these I ignore / hide. The ones to focus on are:

  • Keyword – these are the keywords you chose for your campaign (assuming you’re looking at a manual campaign).
  • Customer Search Term – this is what the customer actually typed into the Amazon search bar, to bring up your ad.  If you’re running automatic campaigns, you can use these to select keywords to then set up a manual campaign.
  • Impressions – how many times your ad was seen (for that search term).
  • Clicks – number of clicks
  • Click-thru-rate – just what it says!
  • Spend – the total amount you’ve spent on that search term, for the time period you selected when you generated the report.  NOTE: This is only if you’ve selected the search term report, as I have.  If you want to look at total spend per keyword, make sure you select this.
  • 7 Day Total Sales – amount of sales that can be attributed to each keyword. (If a buyer clicks on your ad, doesn’t purchase there and then, but does buy your product within 7 days this is included.)

4. Next, add a filter.

You now have the option to filter your campaign data in a number of ways.

  • By Impressions (descending).  This will show you which keywords (and search terms) gave you the most impressions.
  • By Clicks (descending).  This will show you which got the most clicks.  
  • By Spend (descending). I look at how much I’ve spent on a search term (and a keyword, as you can see which one it triggered) and how much revenue it’s generated. If you’ve spent a lot and not generated any (or many) sales, you can consider adding it to your campaign as a ‘negative exact’. This will stop you wasting any more money on an unprofitable keyword.  It will often show you if it’s a search term that’s triggering your keyword – and you can add that in too. Just as a little note, you can also do this inside your campaigns, by looking at Spend and Sales for a period you choose. I often do this to ‘cull’ unprofitable keywords!
  • By 7 Day Total Sales (descending).  This can be a good way of identifying search terms that you can add to your campaigns as keywords – either to add to an existing campaign, or to set up a manual campaign if you’ve been doing automatic targeting so far.  It’s particularly good for identifying long-tail keywords – as these often cost you less per click. (Make sure you enter them as phrase or exact match in your campaign though.)

This is all I do, for every campaign, in every marketplace.  I try and do it once a month – and always leave at least 2 weeks each time, so I can gather enough data to make it worthwhile.

You find that the longer a campaign is running, the less useful it becomes, as you find your profitable keywords.

It’s probably most useful early on, or when you’re looking to move from an automatic to a manual campaign.

If you then want to find more keywords, I recommend using a tool like Keyword Inspector.  You can get a whole list here, set up a ‘test’ campaign to see which ones work and then move them over into another campaign if you wish.

Using this strategy in International marketplaces

I’ve found this VERY useful in marketplaces where I don’t speak (or always understand!) the language.

In those cases, I set up an automatic campaign and leave it to run for 2-3 weeks.  I then run the report, see which search terms are getting sales and add those to a manual campaign.  I repeat every few weeks, eventually turning off the automatic campaign (I run both for a while) once the ACOS for the manual campaign is profitable.

It’s also a good way of finding search terms that are triggering your keywords, but don’t necessarily make sense.  If you see words with a high number of impressions, but few clicks, or words that are costing you a lot but not getting any sales, put them into Google translate and see what they mean.  You can then add them as a negative keyword.

If you find you have really high-performing keywords, be sure these are included in the back-end of your listing too. This will help with your organic ranking.

You can also remove any that you now know aren’t relevant.

I’m not going to pretend this is particularly sophisticated – but all it will cost you is time.  Or, if you have a Virtual Assistant, this is definitely something they could do.

Do you have any other hints and tricks for managing your PPC? Please share below if so!