A simple guide to effective targeting, with Sponsored Products

Tips to help you drive sales through targeting, with Sponsored Products

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Sponsored Products targeting overview

What is targeting, and why is it important?

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Chapter 1

An introduction to Sponsored Products targeting

Strong targeting is crucial to build a solid foundation for your Sponsored Products campaigns, and can help to match shopper intent to your products.

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What is targeting?

Targeting is the way you define the context in which you want your ads to appear.

That can be done in multiple ways. The most common is the use of keywords that match your ad with the shopping queries customers use when looking for something online.

This guide will explore everything you need to know about Sponsored Products targeting with Amazon Ads. Keep reading to learn all about:

  • the targeting options for your Sponsored Products advertising campaigns
  • how Sponsored Products targeting can be used to engage relevant shoppers on Amazon
  • achieving your advertising objectives through targeting

Targeting options, with Sponsored Products

Advertise your products in the most relevant contexts

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Chapter 2

Let’s explore your targeting options

In this chapter you will discover the key differences between the targeting options for Sponsored Product campaigns.

First off, before we dive into targeting options, here are two important definitions:

  • Customer shopping queries: words and phrases that Amazon customers use to look for products in Amazon’s store
  • Keywords: word combinations that you bid on in manual campaigns to match customer shopping queries
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With Sponsored Products, you have three targeting options –

  • automatic targeting
  • manual targeting
  • negative targeting

Let’s look at these options a bit closer.

Automatic targeting

With automatic targeting your ad is automatically matched with keywords and products that are similar to the product you’re advertising. It’s based on previous shopping queries and your product information.

If you’re new to Sponsored Products, this targeting option can help you easily and quickly launch a new campaign. If you’re a seasoned advertiser, it can help you understand search trends and serve as a source of keyword discovery for your manual campaigns.

Manual targeting

With manual targeting, you can manually select which keywords or products you want to target. This targeting option gives you the flexibility to choose your own targets and manage performance at the target level.

Negative targeting

Negative targeting helps you exclude the keywords, products or brands you don’t want your ads associated with, to help optimize your campaign’s performance and spend. It can be used in both automatic and manual campaigns. You can add negative targets either:

  • when you’re setting up the campaign (in the ‘Create campaign’ window, scroll down to ‘Negative keyword targeting’ or ‘Negative product targeting’)
  • or, add them later by clicking on your campaign name in the ad console and navigating to the ‘Negative keywords’ tab on the left
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Deciding which targeting strategy

You can select your targeting strategy when you’re creating a new campaign in the ad console. Once the campaign is live, you will not be able to change the campaign targeting, so if you decide to change your targeting strategy, you will need to set up a new campaign.

Automatic targeting, with Sponsored Products

How to use automatic targeting to achieve your Sponsored Products campaign objectives

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Chapter 3

A closer look at automatic targeting

Automatic targeting is a quick and easy way to get started.

Amazon Ads does the work of matching your ads to shopper search queries and products, saving you time and providing you with important insights. With automatic targeting, your ads will be eligible to appear on Amazon shopping results pages, as well as product detail pages, based on multiple default strategies that we use on your behalf to match your ad to relevant customers’ shopping queries.

There are four automatic targeting strategies:

  • Close match
  • Loose match
  • Substitutes
  • Complements
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Let’s look at these options a bit closer.

Close match: we may show your ad to shoppers who use search terms closely related to your products. If your product is "Kitchen Smart – Large Espresso Stainless Steel Maker” we'll show an ad when shoppers use search terms like “large espresso maker" and "stainless steel espresso machine"

Loose match: we may show your ad to shoppers who use search terms loosely related to your products. If your product is “Kitchen Smart – Large Espresso Stainless Steel Maker”, we may show an ad when shoppers use search terms like "coffee machine" and "large silver espresso machine”

Substitutes: we may show your ad to shoppers browsing detail pages of products similar to yours. If your product is " Kitchen Smart - Espresso Maker, Stainless Steel, Metallic", we'll show an ad on detail pages that include "ground coffee" and "espresso mugs"

Complements: we may show your ad to shoppers who view the detail pages of products that complement your product. If your product is " Kitchen Smart - Espresso Maker, Stainless Steel, Metallic," we'll show an ad on detail pages that include "queen comforter" and "feather pillows"

Remember this.

You can set a single “default bid” in your automatic campaign, or set bids by targeting group - closest match, loose match, substitutes, and complements - to manage campaign performance. We recommend using dynamic bidding up and down to help maximize performance, or, if you are looking to optimize based on ROAS, then try a dynamic down only strategy.

When to choose automatic targeting.

  • You want to get started with Sponsored Products but you’re not sure where to start
  • You don’t have time to optimize your campaigns on a regular basis and want a campaign that will dynamically adapt to changing trends and seasonality
  • You want to expand reach and find more customers
  • You’re launching a new product in a different category and want to discover insights on shopping searches
  • You want to identify new keywords that drive clicks and sales that you can to add to your manual campaigns

Head to the campaign builder in your account to launch an automatic targeting campaign.

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Just getting started with Sponsored Products?

We suggest you begin with an automatic targeting campaign. With this option, Amazon Ads chooses keywords for you, so you can learn how your product is being discovered in Amazon’s store. We recommend that you let your automatic campaign run for about two weeks before creating a manual campaign.

Already have active manual campaigns?

Automatic targeting is a great supplement to manual campaigns, and advertisers often find success running both. By using metrics from the automatic campaign search term report, you can gain insight on the best keywords or products to target for your manual targeting campaign.

Using both automatic and manual targeting, together, has several benefits. Running automatic campaigns can help you can stay abreast of the latest shopping trends, which can in turn inform your targeting strategy for your manual campaigns. Adding the top performing targets you identified to your manual campaigns, to bid more competitively on the keywords and products, can help you to meet your campaign objectives.

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Learn more about automatic targeting via our help page.

Manual targeting (keywords), with Sponsored Products

When, where and why you should use keyword targeting in your Sponsored Products campaign

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Chapter 4: Part 1

A closer look at keyword targeting

Keyword targeting allows you to choose specific keywords to add to your campaign. This can help your products appear in shopping results and on product detail pages.

When creating or updating a keyword campaign, you can choose from our list of recommended keywords, enter your own keywords, or use a combination of both.

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Keyword research can be a time-consuming activity, so to help you with keyword selection, we provide keyword recommendations, along with suggested bids. We tailor these recommendations just for you, so you can focus on making business decisions, instead of conducting keyword research.

By blending relevant insights from across our store, these recommendations are created in a few ways.

  • Firstly, we assess which keywords performed well for you in the past, as well as those which performed well across Amazon more broadly.
  • Secondly, we look at what customers are searching for on Amazon, and how often these searches translate into sales.

More about match types.

Match types are used as a way to control your targeting, helping to fine-tune which search terms your ads will be eligible to show against. The three match types for keyword targeting are:

  • Broad match
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match
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Let’s look at these options a bit closer.

Broad Match: This match type offers your ad broad exposure to customer shopping queries. A shopping query can contain the keyword terms in any order. It may include singulars, plurals, variations, synonyms, and related terms as determined by the meaning of the keyword and the context of the advertised products. The keyword itself may not be contained in the customer shopping query.

For example, the keyword “sneakers” may match customer shopping queries such as “canvas sneakers,” “sneaker,” “basketball shoes,” “athletic shoes,” “cleats,” “trainers,” or “foam runners.”

Phrase Match: This match type is more restrictive than broad match and will generally result in more relevant placements for your ad. It offers a balance between broad exposure you can gain by using broad match and highly precise targeting that can be achieved with exact match. The search terms matched will contain all components of the targeted keyword in the same order. Phrase match also includes the plural form of the keyword.

For example, if you’re advertising a “Doppler cotton sheet set”, the phrase match will appear against shopping queries such as “Doppler cotton sheet set blue”, “Doppler cotton sheet sets”, and “King doppler cotton sheet set”

Exact Match: This match is the most restrictive match type, but can be even more relevant to a search and tends to result in the highest conversion rates. The search terms are matched word for word (same words and in the same order) with the targeted keyword. Exact match also includes the plural form of the keyword.

For example, if you’re advertising a “Doppler cotton sheet set”, the exact match will appear against shopping queries such as “Doppler cotton sheet set” and “Doppler cotton sheet sets”

Remember this.

  • Keywords aren't case-sensitive, so we will match uppercase or lowercase letters in search terms.
  • There is a maximum limit of 10 words per keyword and 80 characters.
  • Keywords can contain letters, numbers, or spaces.
  • Other special characters such as a question mark, slash, double quote, ampersand or backlash are not permitted.

Head to the campaign builder in your account to launch a manual (keyword) targeting campaign. Select ‘Manual targeting’ under ‘Targeting’ and scroll down to select ‘Keyword targeting’ in the ‘Targeting section’.

Top tips.

  • Test all three match types, with different bids, to help maximize your campaign performance. For example, if one of your keywords is “Doppler cotton sheet set”, add it in broad, phrase and exact match and use suggested bids for each one. If you manage bids at the ad group level, rather than individual keyword level, we recommend using dynamic bid up and down to help maximize performance.
  • When setting manual bids, we recommend setting the highest bid on the exact match, a lower on the phrase match, and the lowest bid on the broad match. Test different match types for at least 1-2 weeks to gather enough data before pausing any keywords. And don’t worry, you won’t be bidding against yourself by adding different match types on the same keyword.
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Chapter 4: Part 2

Keyword types

You may have heard of different terms related to keyword types, including branded keywords and category keywords.

Let’s look at these options a bit closer.

Branded keywords are directly associated with your brand or a brand you sell. They include just the brand name (e.g., KitchenSmart) as well as any combination of the brand name and other words (e.g., KitchenSmart espresso machine). Consider bidding on your branded keyword as a brand defense strategy since your competitors may be bidding on your branded keywords, too.

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Category keywords are non-branded (generic) keywords that relate to any product or category. They can be short-tail (i.e., 1-3 words such as “women’s running shoes”) or long-tail (word combinations, usually three or more words, used when looking for a specific product, such as a product’s full name). To drive awareness, focus on building a breadth of short-tail category keywords. To drive consideration and conversion, focus on more specific, longer-tail keywords. Additionally, if you have multiple campaigns where you’re bidding on category keywords that are relevant to multiple advertised products, set bids based on your priority for each product; this will give your top priority product the best opportunity to get top ad placements, while still giving your lower priority product(s) a chance to also appear on the search results page.

Do your research.

It can be helpful to research the descriptive words used in similar product’s detail pages, and explore how other brands, within your product’s category, are describing their products. Use this insight to inspire your own keyword selection. This can also help customers who may be familiar with other brands in your category, but not your own, discover your products.

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To note, for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors and book vendors.

We recommend choosing a range of keywords, from broad to specific, in their campaigns. Choose broad terms to describe your book and overall category (example: eBook Best Sellers, Great Authors), relevant genres (example: Women Authors, Classics), similar authors or publishers (example: Charlotte Brontë, Penguin Classics), and terms, themes, or ASINs that are relevant to your books (example: Heathcliff, ASIN 0141439556).

Head to the ‘Campaigns overview’ in your account and select the campaign which you would like to add more keywords to. If you would like to launch a new manual (keyword) targeting campaign, head to campaign builder in your account.

Choose keyword targeting when:

  • You know what keywords you want to target
  • You want to have greater control over your targeting and spend
  • You want to be able to identify specific keywords for your ads to appear against, and optimize bids to get the most from your best-performing keywords
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Learn more about keyword targeting via our help page.

Manual targeting (product), with Sponsored Products

Everything you need to know about product targeting in your Sponsored Products campaign

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Chapter 5

A closer look at product targeting

Product targeting is a type of manual targeting that allows you to target specific products, categories, brands, or other product features that are relevant to your advertised item. You can target either individual products, or entire categories (e.g. “women’s running shoes”). Further refine category targets by product attributes, such as brand, price range, ratings, Prime shipping eligibility, and more.

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When targeting a product, your ad will be eligible for impressions on its product detail page, as well as search result pages where the targeted product appears among the top search results.

There are several ways to get started with product targeting:

  • Use metrics from auto targeting campaigns
  • Use “suggested” targets
  • Start with category targeting

Let’s look at these options a bit closer.

Use metrics from auto targeting campaigns. Check the search term report for auto targeting campaigns. Targeted ASINs that generate clicks or conversions show up in the “search term” column. An ASIN is always 10 characters long, and either entirely numeric (e.g. 0015366456) or starts with a “B” (e.g. “B00JPFUVUU”). These can be added to product targeting campaigns as targets

Use “suggested” targets. When creating a product targeting campaign, check the “suggested” tab for targeting recommendations. These products are identified based on shoppers’ interactions, such as items they frequently view, click and purchase together with your advertised item

Start with category targeting. The “suggested” tab under the category targeting option recommends relevant categories to target. The search terms report will then show the individual ASINs under this category that generated specific clicks and conversions. This information can be used to refine targeting to individual ASINs

Head to the campaign builder in your account to launch a manual (product) targeting campaign. Select ‘Manual targeting’ under ‘Targeting’ and scroll down to select ‘Product targeting’ in the ‘Targeting’ section.

Remember this.

Keep in mind your advertising objectives when setting up a product targeting campaign. If you’re aiming to drive awareness, target a broad range of categories and ASINs. If the goal is to increase product consideration, narrow category and ASIN targeting to similar categories/ASINs. If you’re looking to maximize conversions, limit usage of category targeting and focus more on ASIN targeting for items with high star ratings.

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Choose product targeting when:

  • You know what products or categories you want to target and are looking for broad reach, rather than targeting specific product-related keywords
  • You’re launching a campaign in a foreign marketplace and don’t want to rely on translations to do keyword research

US advertisers who use both keyword and product targeting in their Sponsored Products campaigns see 14.38% more impressions, 15% more clicks, and 11% more conversions compared to advertisers who use keyword targeting only.

Amazon internal data, US, June 2021

Learn more about product targeting via our help page.

Negative targeting, with Sponsored Products

Optimize your campaigns by adding negative targets in your Sponsored Products campaign

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Chapter 6

A closer look at negative targeting

Negative keywords help prevent ads appearing on shopping results pages that do not meet your campaign objectives.

This extra level of control can help improve your ad performance metrics, such as click-through rate (CTR), return on ad spend (ROAS) and cost per click (CPC).

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Here’s an example.

You’re running an ad for a camera lens. Your campaign objective is for your ad to appear on complementary products, but you find it appearing next to a non-compatible camera. By adding this camera as a negative ASIN, you can stop your ad from appearing there and help prevent paying for placements that are not relevant to your product.

With product targeting, you can add a negative list of products to prevent ads from displaying on an ASIN's product page.

Consider adding the following as negative keywords.

Keyword targeting:

  • Low-performing keywords
  • Shopping terms you don’t want your ads to appear against

Product targeting:

  • Low-performing ASINs
  • ASINs you don’t want your ads to show against
  • Non-complementary ASINs in an ad group

We recommend using phrase or exact match with negative keywords:

  • Negative phrase: ads won't show on shopping queries that contain the complete phrase or close variations.
  • Negative exact: ads won't show on shopping queries that contain the exact phrase or close variation

Head to the ‘Campaigns overview’ in your account, and click on the name of the campaign which you would like to add negative keywords to. Go to the ‘Negative keywords’ tab to apply negative keywords to your campaigns.

Note: You can add negative keywords either for the entire campaign or select ad groups. If you would like to add negative keywords to a specific ad group, click the ad group name and go to the ‘Negative targeting tab’.

Remember this.

You can add negative targets both when creating a new campaign and when editing an existing campaign, by going to the ‘Negative targeting’ tab. Before deciding to add a keyword as a negative target, we recommend evaluating its performance after it has received at least 20 clicks. Remember, adding negative targets is not a permanent action, you can always remove them. However, let your negative keywords run for two weeks or more, before making any changes to your strategy.

Setting up strategic targeting for Sponsored Products campaigns

How to anchor your campaign structure on your advertising objectives

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Chapter 7

How to be strategic.

When launching a new Sponsored Products campaign, you may have a variety of objectives. For example, you may be supporting a product launch with advertising, making sure your new product is gaining visibility. You may also be looking to increase sales for your existing products, or help boost your deals and coupons. Or, you may be looking to amplify your reach and help your brand engage with more shoppers in Amazon’s store.

Start by defining your business goals.

When creating a campaign, defining your main objective can help you choose your targeting method and the products that are best suited to help you achieve that goal. Think about identifying the business goals that you want to pursue for each product you sell. Take pricing, availability, and the category into account, so you can group your products logically within your campaigns.

Next, choose your campaign strategy.

Depending on your primary advertising objective, choose the strategy that meets your objective best:

  • Expand: focus on high-traffic category keywords and products
  • Promote: create a specific campaign to drive sales of products with coupons
  • Protect: focus on branded keywords and targeting
  • Conquest: target competitors’ products
  • Upsell: use keywords geared towards higher-priced items, such as larger sizes of the product you’re advertising
  • Cross-sell: target products in adjacent categories
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6 tips to remember

  • Campaign creation: Create as many campaigns as needed and structure them in a way that makes it easier for you to monitor performance. For example, if you’re looking to optimize for ROAS for one of your products, but want to drive awareness and focus on impressions for another product, we recommend setting up either two separate ad groups within the same campaign, or setting up two separate campaigns.
  • Ad group name: Assign an ad group name that is descriptive and meaningful to you. Ad group names must be unique within a campaign, however, you can use the same name in different campaigns.
  • Products: Choose products that are closely related to each other to group together in an ad group. Keywords, product/category targeting, and bids will apply to all products within an ad group. You can add a maximum 1,000 products per ad group. If you have just a few ASINs, we recommend having one ASIN per campaign and setting a budget that you’re willing to spend on a given ASIN.
  • Campaign editing: You can add new products to an ad group at any time. You can also add more ad groups to a campaign after saving it.
  • Targeting strategy: We recommend that you avoid mixing different targeting strategies within the same campaign and ad group. This is how you ensure alignment between the advertising tactic and your KPI for measurement. For example, consideration tactics can be measured by impressions or click-through rate. But, conversion tactics might be measured based on sales.
  • Performance optimization: Optimize your campaigns regularly by applying learnings from your reports. You should establish benchmarks based on your goals and the historical performance of your campaigns. Then, measure your performance against these to determine if your strategy is meeting your objectives. Remember to set up weekly or monthly scheduled reports to be emailed to you and check your performance in campaign manager regularly. Whenever you edit your campaigns in campaign manager, you will see recommended campaign settings changes that you can add to your campaigns with just a few clicks.

Here’s an example of a campaign and ad group structure:

Example of a campaign and ad group structure

How campaign structure can impact advertising performance

Here’s an example.

You are running a Sponsored Products campaign for a product sold in multiple pack sizes. After a month, you notice the smallest pack size is receiving almost 100% of the impressions in the campaign. You’re satisfied with ROAS on the campaign, but you’d like to boost visibility for the larger pack sizes.

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Here’s what you could do.

In this case, we recommend segmenting your campaign into multiple keyword ad groups or campaigns to target the different pack sizes, and aligning your keywords to the different pack sizes.

Head to the ‘Campaigns overview’ in your account to launch a new campaign, or optimize your existing campaigns.

Sponsored Products targeting checklist

Tips for getting started with Sponsored Products targeting

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Chapter 8

Optimize your Sponsored Products campaigns with these strategies

We hope you found this comprehensive guide useful, and feel prepared to optimize your Sponsored Products campaigns through targeting.

To continue learning about targeting, join one of our targeting webinars.

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Here are some of the top tips to remember when optimizing your campaigns:

  • Take an always-on approach. Consider having “evergreen” campaigns to always allow your ads to have a chance to be seen by shoppers, whenever they are looking for products similar to what you’re advertising.
  • Start small. Depending on your level of familiarity with digital advertising in general, and Sponsored Products in particular, consider starting with one targeting type – automatic or manual. Automatic campaigns are quick and easy to launch. Manual (keyword or product) campaigns give you greater control over campaign performance.
  • Test and learn. After launching your first campaign and seeing initial results, launch another campaign with a different targeting type to test what works best for you. Test all match types in your keyword targeting campaigns. Build on your learnings, add more products to maximize your sales, and optimize your campaigns.
  • Review optimization recommendations regularly. Log into the advertising console and review campaign optimization recommendations, including new keywords and bids.
  • Consider adding negative keywords. Manage your campaign performance better by excluding keywords which are related to products you don’t want your ads to appear.

Thank you for reading

A simple guide to effective targeting, with Sponsored Products