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Great news: if you’ve mastered optimizing your listing for organic search on Amazon, you can continue to use those keyword skills as you move into paid search. 

But like other types of content on Amazon, health and wellness brands must toe a careful line to remain compliant with Amazon policies. Many of the categories that fall into the “wellness” industry are also restricted categories. 

For example, you may need to cautiously craft ad copy. Beauty brands can’t directly address the buyer in their ads by saying something like, “Are you unhappy with your skin?”

So - be sure you fully understand Amazon’s restrictions and guidelines for advertising your product. And once you do, you’ll have seemingly limitless options to put your products front-and-center among a motivated buying audience.

Types of Amazon Advertising

There are three primary types of advertising campaigns to understand on Amazon. Sometimes called PPC (pay-per-click), Amazon advertising can bring you huge value - but also a huge cost if you dive in without doing some research. Let’s start by taking a look at the three campaign types.

Sponsored Products

Sponsored Products ads are the most popular campaign type. Especially if you’re just learning how to advertise on Amazon, you’ll start here. Sponsored Product ads:

  • Use keywords (like we discussed in the SEO section of this guide)
  • Show up in search results
  • Show up on product detail pages (like competitor products!)
  • Are easy to use to promote a single product

Sponsored Brands

These types of ads are sometimes called “headline search ads” because of the way they appear with a custom headline. Sponsored Brand ads:

  • Use keywords (like we discussed in the SEO section of this guide)
  • Show up above or below the search results, or to the left
  • Show consumers a custom headline, logo, and your selected products
  • Great to use to promote your entire brand and a product carousel to new buyers

Sponsored Display

Sponsored Display ads extend your advertising reach automatically as Amazon generates display ads to buyers with relevant shopping behavior. Sponsored Display ads:

  • Use Amazon’s audience demographics data to target people automatically
  • Show up on product detail pages
  • Show up on other websites (off Amazon)
  • Best used to capture interest through retargeting people who may need a nudge to buy - or a reason to buy your product over a competitor

Getting Started with Advertising on Amazon

The easiest way to get started with Amazon advertising is to create Sponsored Product ads. There are loads of guides and resources that will dig deeply into how to do this, so we’ll cover some of the basics for health and wellness brands.

Establish a testing budget

We generally see brands spend between 7-12 percent of their revenue on marketing, which includes paid advertising. If you’re just starting with Amazon Pay Per Click advertising, or PPC, take a close look at your overall marketing budget. Ensure that you set aside a portion of that budget to test. Here are a few best practices to consider:

  • Never test advertising for less than a two week period. Commit to a budget amount or percentage for at least that amount of time before you make changes.
  • Start with a fixed budget, which you can manage by the day or month. Then as you learn, grow into a percentage budget to give yourself flexibility.
  • If you’re unsure about how much to spend, start with 10% of your monthly marketing budget. Once you’ve had a month of testing, you’ll be ready to optimize - and be equipped to set a true budget.

Start with a clean campaign structure

Next, make sure you plot out a structure for your campaigns. Most Amazon advertising experts recommend that you create campaigns by product category. That means you group your individual products into your own categories where you will treat them as their own group. For example, if you sell beauty products, you may group all of your facial products for women into a single category. Then, you can create one or more campaigns for each of the products in that category.

When you create a campaign, you’ll target specific keywords. Fortunately, you’ve mastered keyword research already for your products! Continue to build on that success by using those keywords in your campaigns.

Let’s keep with the women’s facial products example and look at a sample structure.

With a manageable campaign structure established, you need to choose a bidding strategy. 

Choose fixed bids if: you want to run your campaign by choosing your own price per click. This means that Amazon will only use this bid on a keyword, and it won’t adjust. 

Choose dynamic bidding if: you want to allow Amazon’s algorithm to change your bid based on the current market at any given time. There are two versions of this, which are:

  • Down only - Amazon will lower bids in real time when conversion is less likely
  • Up and down - Amazon will both lower and raise your bids, depending on the predicted performance

Once you’ve begun to create Sponsored Products ads, combine them with Sponsored Display using retargeting. This approach will allow visual ads to “follow” anyone who clicks on your ads to keep your product top of mind (to encourage the eventual conversion).

Ways to Improve Amazon Advertising Performance

There are some definite best practices for consumer health brands who want to succeed with Amazon advertising. Here are a few of our best recommendations.

Learn the Lingo

While you don’t need to become an advertising guru to make advertising work for you, you should learn some of the most important terms, and what they mean for you. When you master what they mean, understanding the performance of your campaigns will be much easier. Terms you need to learn include:

  • CoGS (Cost of Goods Sold)
  • ACoS (Amazon Cost of Sale - or the cost efficiency of what you’re spending)
  • RoAS (Return on Ad Spend)

Then, to master the nomenclature of the day-to-day advertising adjustments you’ll need to make, you’ll need to know these terms:

  • Exact Match - A search has to match your keyword verbatim
  • Broad Match - A search simply has to include the words in your targeted keyword
  • Phrase Match - A search has to include your keyword somewhere, but can include other words
  • Negative Keywords - Words that will prevent your ad from being served to buyers using that keyword (even if they combine it with your targeted keyword)

The keyword match types in particular can become pretty confusing, so let’s take a look at a sample to see how this could work for our women’s facial products.

If your product is a hydrating face wash, you would obviously target that combination of words. But how you do it can make a big difference in your results.

If a customer searches:

  • Hydrating face wash - Broad, Phrase, & Exact
  • Foaming hydrating face wash - Broad & Phrase only
  • Hydrating face wash men - Broad & Phrase only
  • Face wash hydrating - Broad only
  • Hydrating acne face wash - Broad only
  • Moisturizing face cleanser - Broad only

As you can see, a broad match can cast a much wider net - but you could wind up wasting ad budget on searches that are too broad, like advertising your women’s face wash to someone looking for a men’s product.

And an exact match may be very specific and narrow, but could yield either highly optimized results - or no results, if the search term is 

Start by understanding these examples, and then begin by testing to learn what works for your products. One of the best ways to begin testing is through using automatic campaigns.

Harvest Data with Automatic Campaigns First

Don’t go with your gut and choose the products you want to advertise. Instead, discover customer search behavior through Amazon’s automatic campaigns. When you use automatic campaigns, Amazon will serve your ads to all relevant customer searches based on your product information. Then, you can see what keywords are converting, which will give you the information you need to optimize better and convert more efficiently.

Write Amazon Ads that Drive Clicks

Writing ads looks simple on the surface, but it’s harder than it looks. Remember, the ads you’re paying to display have to stand out from the thousands of similar products that buyers see.

When you’re writing ad copy, remember that the ad itself has one job: get the shopper to click. The job of your product listing is to get the conversion. So in your ad, don’t focus on selling them on every detail, but write a concise ad that is compelling and original. Be specific about your product’s special value - and test different versions to see what generates the most interest.

Bid on Your Competitors

It is completely compliant to bid on competitor names and keywords in your ad campaigns. You can include the name of your competitor’s brand or product in your campaign, and potentially convert their customer base. However, make sure you remain compliant and don’t make claims about their brand or products. Avoid direct comparisons like, “Superior formula to [Brand X]” or “Improved fine lines 50% better than Brand X.” 

Stay Compliant

As we mentioned before, products in wellness categories have special requirements to meet. One specific area is claims, of course. Amazon makes it clear that claims you make in your ads need proof - that consumers can easily find on the product detail page, or packaging, with the date and evidence. The last thing you want is for Amazon to shut your ads - or your product listings down. But - including proof can only help improve your conversion rate - because once buyers see what your product can do, they’ll be sure to convert!

Adjust Your Budget as You Learn

Once you’ve been advertising for at least a couple of weeks, you should have enough information to develop your ideal Amazon PPC budget. 

If you’re advertising profitably, spend more gradually. If not, do some more keyword research and test new campaigns. 

Never stop researching, adjusting, and optimizing your Amazon advertising campaigns. Sometimes it takes time to become profitable, but once you find campaigns that grow your business - invest more and scale.

Advanced Amazon Ad Products 

Now if you’ve mastered all of the Amazon advertising basics, and you’re ready to move on to some of the newer products - great! There are a lot of them, and understand that not every product will work for every category.

Amazon Live

If you’ve ever wanted your own home shopping episode, here’s your chance. This livestream advertising tool lets you directly engage with shoppers. Amazon Live:

  • Allows you to produce a shoppable video yourself directly via an app.
  • Is only available to brands on Amazon Brand Registry in the US marketplace.
  • Is totally free to use (but if you want to maximize views, you should pay to boost it - just like on social media).

Some of the best done Amazon live sessions combine multiple products in an ongoing, engaging conversation. Do you have a few products that work well together? Consider doing a :30 minute demo on the best way to use or layer those products.

Do you have products for men, women, and children? Consider having an influencer or one of your team bring their family together for a group demo. 

These videos, though live when recorded, can also be viewed later - and will serve as an engaging, evergreen piece of content on Amazon.

Audio Ads (beta)

If your target customer is likely to be a heavy user of Amazon Music or Alexa-enabled products, this is a platform you should consider. Amazon will serve audio ads to anyone relying on free streaming. Plan to script an ad for this format that’s between 10-30 seconds. 

Amazon Posts (still in beta)

If you’re already in the habit of sharing rich content on social media, using Amazon Posts will feel familiar. You’ll curate your feed, and post images and a caption. However - Amazon will control where your content appears and automatically tags it and displays it. 

Even though you can’t fully control where your post appears, the great news is that using Amazon Posts is free - and unlimited - at least for now. 

Video Ads

Amazon Video Ads can be served through streaming TV or online videos. Available across devices and Amazon-affiliated sites (like IMDB and Twitch), you have access to a huge and ever-growing audience. 

When to Outsource Your Advertising

If all of these options are exhausting you, there are countless Amazon expert agencies ready to step in and help you build your plan. You can use their services to build your customer experience across all of Amazon’s advertising products.

Like any partnership, though, you should interview a few agencies to find the right partner for you. We’ve worked with some of the best - with deep experience in health and wellness products. The Intrinsic team can give you some great recommendations to kick off your search for the right Amazon advertising agency.