[Kenshoo] Hacking Amazon Advertising: How Brands and Agencies Are Getting Around Amazon’s Limitations

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • The limitations of Amazon’s attribution tool
  • Kevin Weiss shares his hacks for capturing customer information from Amazon
  • How to keep your ads flowing when you lose the buy box or Amazon stops serving you
  • Kevin’s best practices for positioning products to beat competition
  • How to work around Amazon to boost the performance of your listings and ad campaigns
  • Kevin explains how to use conquest strategies to attract customers from a competitor’s listing
  • Kevin’s advice to brands with a small advertising budget
  • Why brands should embrace sponsored display advertising and Amazon DSP, and how to go about it
  • How to use coupons to hack Amazon advertising

In this episode…

Although the Amazon marketplace offers great opportunities for millions of sellers, its fierce competition makes it hard for brands to stand out and expand their businesses. For these brands, it is not enough to rely on organic searches alone. Paid advertising and expert strategy are crucial for attracting leads and converting them into customers.

However, there are many limitations to the advertising tools available on Amazon. In order to acquire customer data and outperform competitors, savvy sellers are finding ways to work around these limitations.

In this episode of the Buy Box Experts Podcast, host Eric Stopper is joined by Kevin Weiss, VP of Client Success for Ecommerce at Kenshoo, to talk about how brands can hack Amazon advertising to increase conversion rates and boost sales. Kevin discusses the limitations of the Amazon marketplace, his top strategies for better positioning your listings, and how brands with small advertising budgets can beat the competition. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace. 

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload. 

Buy Box prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management

Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:09
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast. We bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

Eric Stopper 0:18
Hey, welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast This is Eric Stopper. This episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. We’ve got a team of consultants that will identify key low hanging fruit for some of your best seller selling aces on Amazon. So if you’re an Amazon seller or vendor and you want to make more revenue, go to buyboxexperts.com and click on the free analysis button. It’s completely free, no strings attached. We’ve got a limited time that we’re going to be offering this so go and take advantage of it as soon as you can.

This episode is a part of a 10-part series we’re doing with the geniuses at Kenshoo. We thought it would be a good idea to bring together our collective knowledge in a way that was fun and educated, indispensable. Today I’m joined by Kevin Weiss, VP of Client Success for e-commerce. And we’re talking about hacking, Amazon advertising, how brands and agencies are getting around Amazon’s limitations. Kevin, welcome.

Kevin Weiss 1:14
Thanks so much. We’re gonna be back.

Eric Stopper 1:16
So a quick disclaimer from my side. I have mentioned on this podcast a dozen or so times that when somebody suggests a strategy to me, I have a listing that I try on all of the if it’s black, gray, white hat, flaming, devilish hat doesn’t matter. I will try it out. Because I want to see, and I want to see if some of the claims that people are making are true to date, that one hasn’t been shut down. But in no way am I recommending that you do the same thing that I’m doing with your listings because you do run the potential risk that Amazon will shut it down. So that’s that’s on the Buy Box Experts side. I can’t speak for Kenshoo though.

Kevin Weiss 1:57
Yeah, yeah. Well, we certainly get into some questions. cases, you know, big company breeding at scale, you’re going to get some different categories that people want to advertise. And so we do have those conversations with Amazon, they tend to be on a case by case. But yeah, good good works in the wise out there that you threw out always have a sandbox, know what’s out there. But be careful and make sure that you’ve got some insulation so that you can keep on selling.

Eric Stopper 2:21
So let’s, let’s get right to the meat of this. Amazon has evolved tremendously over the past, you know, 15-20 years or so. Let’s talk about some of the limitations that Amazon has one thing that comes to mind is I was talking with Sean Marder at Kenshoo and he was remarking on the attribution tool recently that that Amazon has been using, it’s not super it’s not super great, right. So that would be a limitation that I see an Amazon is not being able to actually track the demographic or the click-through or lack Touch first touch attribution to the to your sellers because it doesn’t give you very many insights. So that’s, that’s kind of one that I’ll throw into the ring as we started off.

Kevin Weiss 3:09
Yeah, well for a while advertisers and brands have been trying to figure out what’s driving success on my listings, and we haven’t had Google Analytics for Amazon in the same way that we have for Google, obviously. So with the Amazon attribution beta, which is now open for both vendors and sellers, there’s some new light that’s being shed on what’s happening. But largely, you know, Amazon attribution, it’s for tagging your media outside of Amazon, and seeing what happens when they come back to buying on Amazon. For those of you that have been trying to figure out this equation for a while, you’ve been doing things like the affiliate links and checking things through Amazon affiliate. And you’ve also been using the stores where you can send traffic to a store page And that storefront area and get the metrics from tagging media and then seeing how that flows through. So, you know, there’s a lot of ways that brands and advertisers have been trying to work around that and see what that conversion path is. I think, to date, they’re all kind of half baked, where you can’t totally piece it together exactly how you’d like. But I do know that there’s some tools out there. Just you and I were talking about a LandingCube the other day. This is one of the ways to connect the dots was to get that email address, get that promo code, something we didn’t talk about out there using those product inserts, which Amazon did come out and actually say this is okay with some limitation, which again, disclaimer, you should check. But these are sort of the ways that the brands have been trying to get around it is one of these different areas. So there’s a lot that we could dig into today for sure.

Eric Stopper 4:53
Yeah, I think in regards to those, those product inserts, there’s a lot of really cool stuff that you can do within their terms of service. They provide us with that QR code that gets you right to your recent purchases, and it’s customer dependent. I think that’s a great legal hack: my cards for one of my brands, say text, the name of the brand to a number, and you’ll get a free gift or you’ll be able to register your warranty. It kind of depends on what I want from that. But when they text me, I have their phone number. And that I can use that for demographic tracking through Facebook and Google. And so that’s one that I have been waiting for Amazon to say something to me about it right like I’ve been really deliberate about not trying to hide it and they still haven’t they haven’t said anything. I’ve pushed thousands of units through that. And so that’s one thing that’s helped me kind of track my own own demographics, do my own outside targeting. What are some of the hacks that come to mind for you as we start this topic, off

Kevin Weiss 6:00
Yeah, well, so many that I think capturing that customer information that’s such a great area. And it’s because Amazon wants to own the customer, right? They’re the customer obsession company, that’s the number one trusted customer satisfaction brand in the United States for like nine years in a row or something. And they want to own that customer. Now, the brand, they advertise, you want to own the customer too. And so you want to add value to them, like you sound like a free gift, or maybe like a warranty, some type of value add, maybe it’s like a recipe book, or it’s some kind of additional instructions, you want to provide that value add in, the only way you can do that is by getting that customer information. So that is really the best workaround if you’re trying to connect the dots and see what’s happening. Like, how does somebody show up on Amazon, if I’m running a promotion, you want to get an email list that you can run or you want to get some type of customer information that you can then Plug in and build an audience around it like you described. I mean, those are still the best ways today to get around this. But there are a growing number of different tools and approaches that brands are using to get that work right to connect the dots. Ultimately, I don’t think there’s a perfect solution on driving traffic off Amazon to Amazon today. And I don’t think there’s a perfect solution for getting that window of attribution. But certainly, the most innovative brands are using some combo, the product inserts attribution, sending traffic to stores and just that testing, learning mindset, which is so important in this space.

Eric Stopper 7:38
So at the end of the day, right, like agility is going to help you hack Amazon the most because they’re changing so often that even if you find some golden nugget, it might be gone. The next week, so you got to be agile. So, buy box, that’s like our whole thing, right? There is a lot that impacts your advertising based off of whether or not you occupied the buy box for a product. And for brands that want to sell directly, that can be a huge sticking point, right? Like, some random distributor will start selling their products, they lose the buy box. And their advertisements aren’t showing up. I mean, there’s probably a dozen different examples of when and how this can happen. And, Kevin, you were telling me a little bit about this strategy before we started the episode here. Can you kind of expound on that and give us the background?

Kevin Weiss 8:27
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Well, there’s, there’s all kinds of different errors or problems that can throw wrenches into your advertising strategy. So for example, you have a thing that you want to advertise and you’re going to spend a certain amount of budget on that. It’s driving a lot of the sales that you’re doing. And so it’s really important for you that you can spend your advertising like your sponsored ad campaigns driving to that ATM, but sometimes, you either lose the buy box or Amazon will actually stop serving your ad due to one of a number of different ineligibilities. Serving errors like your ad will not serve because it’s not in the buy box or it won’t serve. Like if you’re a vendor, you might see an error that says, your ad has been paused due to profitability. And this can, again, really throw a wrench into your plans, and in many cases, to the revenue that you’re driving from these products. So one of the workarounds that we do is we take the same as them, if you have an error code that you’ve gotten your product at has been paused in profitability. We just take that ascent and we add it to a new ad group or a new campaign for the same keywords and just start running that new ad campaign. And you can instantly start getting served again, and you can play this tactic to keep the ads flowing, it takes a little bit of time for Amazon’s algorithms to catch up and then pause that next campaign down. So this is one of the workarounds. If you have gotten that, that error message that you’ve been positive profitability, you don’t immediately have to go talk to a better match or change your pricing or something like that. Now, you can actually do that work around. And for other brands, if you aren’t winning buy box, you want to create your own unique ascent that you’re going to be able to command that buy box from command the buy box for and have that continuity, serving your ads. So there’s different use cases of your seller or reseller or you’ve got from private label product, different if you’re a vendor, but definitely just creating a new campaign or creating some slightly different variation of that same Ace and that you can sell under the same shirt on the same parent and then launch that new ad campaigns one of the best workarounds to keep that ad campaign rolling.

Eric Stopper 11:02

So you mentioned a few things. And I’m sure that there’s there’s folks who have paused right and are just going and fixing the issue right now because I mean, I’ve gotten those notifications. They’re, they’re a bummer. Now, one of the limitations of Amazon, to me, is also a strength right there: the number of products that appear when you search for a keyword and the similarities between those products, right? So you search for like, go and go and try this out. Search for lighters on Amazon. Or even like electric lighters, it’s, they’re all the same. They’re all exactly the same, maybe slight color differences. One thing that I’ve heard about people doing and I haven’t done with my own accounts is bundling your products together, but also bundling other brands products with your products, talk to me. A little bit about that. What are your thoughts there?

Kevin Weiss 12:02
Yeah, well, there’s, there’s no doubt that the way that you position your product relative to the competition can make a huge difference if you’re using that main image properly. And if you’re using some of the science of e-commerce, which is everybody wants the free gift, everyone wants the bonus item, you see it on the commercials. And so if you can position your product to have something more, something extra that the other products don’t, you’re going to command some attention and some click through, even if it’s a newer product that normally would have trouble ranking organically. But if you put at the top of the search results with that ad, you’re going to be able to get a lot of attention and a click through rate in terms of how you like to bundle whether you want to bundle your product with another one of your products or your product with another brand. There’s going to be some limitation there. There’s going to be some potential risks there on selling an unauthorized variation. But generally, you know, the best practice would be selling it as a gift or an additional item that’s, that’s yours that you can reflect in the main image in the the title, you’re going to get a lot of attention, we’ll be able to use advertising to get very quickly to the top and see what organic keywords you can start ranking for.

Eric Stopper 13:23
Yeah, and, and when it comes to positioning, right, like you were talking literally about shelf space, but it’s the scroll of your phone. It’s kind of this new dynamic thing that we don’t, we don’t talk about a lot like people. They’re looking and they’re evaluating products, but it’s very heuristic, right? Like they’re scrolling through and just seeing very small differences between the listings that piqued their interest. I saw this brand that had one of their variations said you know, the color of the product plus a free ebook, like the actual little variation tab that you can click on said that and then inherently made me think, Wow, I’m getting I’m getting more value for the same amount of money that I’d spent on somebody else. My first question on that front is, is that okay? To put that plus in there, like, they reserved that for colors, and even when you’re creating the variation, it’s like color size. What else are a few other ones? Is that allowed? And would you suggest it?

Kevin Weiss 14:22
Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, not every, not every GL. Not every category within Amazon allows for multiple variation types. But if you are in a category that does allow for multiple variation types, you’re probably familiar or at least you should be familiar with how to use one of them to convey to the customer what you’re offering, and some type of better customer experience. So whoever had that, hopefully you’re listening. Whoever had that free ebook was like a color or style variation or size variation or something. Good for you. That’s working the catalog. And you know a lot, a lot of other sellers and other brands, especially like larger brands, they just don’t take advantage of some of those loopholes. Like, they’re not going to take the time to list in one category, get the variation types of moving over to another category, we have dual listing, they’re not going to be thinking about those things that they’re generally just like doing things by the book. So you should definitely be using those different variation types. And the naming convention of that to you to your full advantage. Kudos to that.

Eric Stopper 15:31
That’s awesome. I think that also brings up an important concept, right? A lot of people think that the advertising hacks that you’re going to apply have to do with just the bids or just the campaigns and the ad groups, the structure, the timing, all that kind of stuff, just exclusive to the advertising platform inside of Amazon. What a lot of people forget about is this shelf space idea, right that you have to optimize how many people are interested in clicking on your listing, you got to do a good job. Your title has to have product market fit, your image has to be more than bright everybody else. Are there any other hacks in this kind of realm that you would suggest to the folks listening?

Kevin Weiss 16:21
Well, I mean, it’s a good question. We’re on the topic of like, how do you work around Amazon to get better performance of your ad campaigns. And that opens like the the, you know, full list of things that you should be doing as either best practice or pushing the envelope in terms of getting the most compelling the most compelling products to click on in terms of you know, workarounds for this stuff it I would have to say, for for advertisers that are not, you know, thinking about how their customers are interacting with their ads. a goat search for the Words that you’re bidding on, and look at the other products that show up in the search results. And don’t just write copy for keyword stuffing, don’t just write copy for, you know, the keyword research that you did. But think about how the customer is actually going to perceive this in that virtual shelf. And take the time to think about how you need to position a little differently. If you’re not doing that, and you’re just hoping that you’re going to capture it from some bidding out crazy or something right that you are insane. Yeah, so it’s like, yeah, it’s it’s so important to get those fundamentals right. And a lot of people just skip right past because they think they can take care of all of it just with a really slick algorithm doing the bidding for him.

Eric Stopper 17:42
I mean, there’s a reason that in all the shows you see like the two gas station owners like glaring at each other across the street and making price changes and adding, you know, new snacks and stuff like rip off and redesign new ideas basically died with the internet. So like you might as well get inspiration from your competitors, and put your At best foot forward. Now I want to talk about something that is referred to as a conquest campaign by some folks, a godfather campaign by others, a domination strategy. I’ve heard it called a bunch of different things where you own the top sponsored brands and bought one of the first sponsored product spots typically like the second like middle of the page sponsored product shot spot. And the first one or two organic listings right like you just totally just saturate people’s minds. I’m sure you’ve heard about this talk to me a little bit about what you understand about these guys.

Kevin Weiss 18:40
Yeah, yeah, we call it conquest Sting, for sure from my other things, and it’s an on brand tactic that is very effective at capturing the intent to buy your competitor’s product. A lot of times A customer is going to search on Amazon for a branded keyword, meaning, they’ve already got an idea. And that’s the intent, like they have an intent to purchase from a specific brand. And it’s your job as the advertiser to get into the consideration set. Make the customer consider your product, in addition to your competitors product. And when you do come questing, the best way to do conquest is to start by looking at the products that your competitor has, and finding your strongest competitive advantages around price and reviews. Right. So start there, that’s going to be your sweet spot where if you’ve got a lower price, and more, or a higher review count, that’s going to be right for conquest. And from there, look at the keywords that that product ranks for. There’s some tools out there that you can do reverse Aysen search And start looking at different ways that the product may be showing up in organic search, start looking at the keywords that you want to get coverage for. And then you want to build your campaign so that not only are you targeting those specific keywords as a conquest thing, but you’re also doing the product targeting. And you’re going to make sure that your ads are showing on their product detail page, or potentially doing this as well on sponsored brands as well as sponsored products. And then the other piece, if you’re really going for the full conquest, in effect, is if you are using Amazon DSP, you can actually do your own targeted audiences just from visitors who have visited your competitor pages. And this is the kind of the full gamut of things that you can do to conquer and make sure that your competitor’s customer who has intended to buy their product is definitely going to see your product so That’s like the total package is super valuable. And a lot of ways to measure this, which we’ll get to, but I’ll pause there, just to make sure that that’s, that’s perfect. That’s perfect man. So

Eric Stopper 21:14
I would use Amazon as a pretty great product recommendation engine. One of the complaints that I get though is that there’s a company who will say I’ve, you know, I’ve maxed out my budget, right? Like I’ve said that I’m willing to spend 10, $20,000 on this on this keyword. And then their spend doesn’t, doesn’t go they didn’t they don’t reach their max level and they and they wonder why.

Kevin Weiss 21:45
So, yeah, well, there’s a lot of reasons why you may not be able to spend the budget. I think, if we’re still talking about conquests on this one, sometimes there can be relevancy challenges where your product is not getting enough of a click through. It’s not getting a strong enough conversion rate where you can try to serve these ads and you’ll be limited. And you won’t be able to spend the budget that you had. But if you start with the research and you recognize where you have that competitive advantage, it shouldn’t be as big of an issue. What I’ve seen is in terms of spending the budgets on a conquest type of activity, you definitely want to loop in DSP as well. That’s a great way to do it. You want to test your bids, you may need to start new ad groups or new campaigns similar to what we were talking about before. Sometimes you’ll see like a campaign that it gets that traction, right, it starts getting impressions and starts building up momentum. And then you have other campaigns where like some keywords just don’t take off. So you might need to retool that campaign, change the bid price. relaunch that campaign again, or just tried different accommodations. keywords. So there’s a little bit of like that you have to keep rinsing and repeating until you get that momentum going. But those are a couple of things that may line up with that particular use case.

Eric Stopper 23:12
And what about those that have a small budget? Right? They’re limited by the fact that they can’t really push the boulder high enough up the field in order to get it to start rolling. What do you say to those guys? What’s that? What’s a hack that they can use to get around that limitation?

Kevin Weiss 23:30
Well, you have to think about your advantages. I built this stack around a David versus Goliath type of webinar presentation and in person presentation. And if you haven’t read the book, Malcolm Gladwell, if you haven’t really familiarized yourself with the story, go check it out. But basically, it starts with assessing your weaknesses, assessing your competitors strengths, and assessing your strengths. And what you’ll most often find is if you have a small budget One of the things that you do have the advantage of is the focus and attention to that detail. Because while the big budget vendors out there are looking at the big picture, and how am I doing this channel, how am I doing relative to brick and mortar? You know, how am I doing it my distribution channel, and all these other business challenges that larger players like the Goliath have, you don’t have some of those challenges. So, your advantage is more often than not going to be your ability to focus and have attention in time, you can actually build a product specifically for the Amazon audience. And you can do very granular research to say, I crushed the head to head on this particular competitor, a set or set of basins and you know, just have that focus and that attention to detail and, and recognize that maybe you don’t have the money but if you don’t have the money, you probably have the time. And so that’s that’s what you need to lean in on and you’ll take them down, go make them work for it.

Eric Stopper 24:56
So are there some more limitations that you’d have found some hacks for that, that we can that we can hear about from the master.

Kevin Weiss 25:04
Sure thing. Well, back in the day, I mean, the one of the oldest hacks around advertising was signing up for Vendor Express, right using it to get access to AWS. So for those of you who remember product display ads not that long ago, but it used to only be available to two vendors, unless you use that hack that workaround where you would sign up for a Vendor Express account. You’d submit some really basic in some cases, not to legitimate purchase order and to get access, then you would use an MS start running proc display ads, and even use headline search ads, which was called back in the day before sponsored brands, right. So that was kind of like the big hack for advertising for sellers. These days, Amazon closed Vendor Express. They’ve closed some of the workarounds around review, building and other things that would make your ad campaigns perform much better. So these days, you know, one of the one of the best ways to work around is to combine the different tactics that you’re using. A lot of times, advertisers are looking at things in these separate buckets. They’re looking at their sponsored ad campaigns and their search terms. And then they’re looking at their sponsored brand campaigns, and they’re looking at their organic keywords. But really, like the best workaround for the ways that Amazon makes it difficult for you in some areas, is that you can have concerted focused efforts where you’re going to target on this keyword was sponsored products with sponsored brand, and you’re really going to go deep, kind of like I was talking about with the conquest strategy. So you just have to worry a little bit harder to get really tight about what you’re targeting, and continue to stick with it. Stick with it until you get that momentum. And then before you know you’re going to start ranking organically for that keyword, and you’re going to be having a lot easier time bridging out into other keywords, sponsored ads that maybe you weren’t as profitable for like your ad costs were really high. But now because you’ve got this, like this base and this momentum going and stuff, you can start bridging out into more and more aggressive, more competitive keywords that normally you get crushed on. But because you did the work and you tie it all together, you build that momentum and you build it out. Yeah,

Eric Stopper 27:27
that makes sense. I’ve always given the like the trade show marketplace analogy when describing Amazon to folks and the instances to that, to that marketplace are the keywords that people are searching for, right? And if you’re going to like not put your best foot forward on any product that you advertise, right, like you don’t get to be the first booth, you’re not going to be the best selling booth with that little trade show. I think a lot of people forget about that. So just combining all of those strategies together and singling in and using them all in conjunction That’s so true.

Kevin Weiss 28:01
And one thing I will say on the seller side, a lot of folks are testing with sponsored display, right is that new AD AD type that came out to basically replace product display outs, you know, it is a stepping stone towards running with Amazon DSP. And this is a really powerful type of targeting with Amazon DSP, where it takes the some of the same concepts of sponsor display, which is basically remarketing, where it goes and follows the user around the internet with ads for your product brings them back to Amazon, trying to get them to convert or buy again, potentially, Amazon DSP is way more robust at doing this. And while you may not be able to do a deal with Amazon advertising, to do like a deal where Amazon manages it, maybe some of you’ve heard of like Amazon requires a minimum of like $35,000 or $50,000 or 15 Does not write that like scare people off from doing display advertising, and they just started using sponsored displays. Instead, I’d recommend that you work with a partner, an expert that can get you into Amazon DSP with smaller minimums. Because when you do that you have a lot more control, not only can you do remarketing on your products, but like I said, on the conquest inside, you can actually remarket your competitors customers, you can build audiences to do that. So that’s something that I haven’t seen a lot of sellers really getting into. It’s almost like they’re kind of intimidated or they don’t know how to get into display yet. But the most sophisticated sellers and the ones that are growing real fast and have made that ascent from small to, you know, 10 million a year on Amazon or more, they’re using display and they’re using Amazon DSP to do this. So that’s an area worth testing for sure.

Eric Stopper 29:52
I’ve seen two things in regards to DSP ads. And I and I talked to Sizmek as well which was involved in providing the ad space to their ad servers. So if you get a chance Sizmek, go go look at those guys. They’ve got some amazing machine learning protocols that they’ve built. They’ve got all these cool research papers and stuff really cool company. But with DSP, my understanding is that the return on ad spend is typically pretty low, you’re spending maybe 50/50 cents to get $1 of revenue sometimes if you if you’re really poor at it and your customers aren’t great at clicking through but what I’ve found as well is that brands that have used the DSP have seen an increase in searches for their brand name and and lower funnel keywords. And so the you know, there’s there’s kind of there’s there’s good things and there’s bad things about the DSP, but what’s kind of the secret sauce of really running these things the right way so that you can yield them high ROI and then also track the impact that it has on other parts of your business to think.

Kevin Weiss 31:06
Well, first of all, but yeah, I mean, there’s Amazon. I’m pretty sure that hit the news acquired seismic or is acquiring that. I feel like they closed it. But yeah, so there’s plenty of reasons why if you’re new to the space or you haven’t checked them out, there’s a whole world within our tech of people buying out other people and stuff moving quickly. But Amazon DSP, their capability has definitely improved through a lot of deliberate efforts. And I think there’s, there’s right ways to use it, there’s wrong ways to use it. And I’ll frame it this way. Like if you’re used to seeing a, an a cost of like 10% and you think comfort in in a click, and then you see a conversion and you can connect the two like really seen Mostly, DSP is gonna require you to think a little bit differently. It’s gonna require you to maybe look at success a little bit differently in a more holistic way. And one of the ways that you can look at it is through a cost per impression, or CPM cost per thousand impressions. And what you can do is you can actually do the math like this is something you can, you’re listening right now you got an ad campaign. Take the number of impressions that you’re getting in your sponsored ad campaign, divided by the cost. You can do the math, you can calculate your cost per thousand impressions. And like, go Google is there we’ll throw in the show notes. calculate your cost per thousand impressions or your CPM and your sponsored ad campaigns and your sponsored brand campaigns. You may find that the cost per thousand impressions is anywhere from a couple bucks to maybe as high as like $50. And if you compare the Cost basically, of just getting somebody to see your ad. And then you compare that to what you can get on Amazon DSP, you can actually in many cases get a much lower cost for getting those same eyeballs, and very, very good placements. So like, if you have to look at a little bit differently, I guess that is kind of the message there. But you can calculate the CPM. And then you can compare that to the cost of reaching that same audience, that same customer. And in many cases, it’s a lot cheaper through DSP. So you don’t necessarily just want to look at the cost that you got or the return on assets, you want to look at. How much does it cost me to reach my target audience?

Eric Stopper 33:40
And, yeah, yeah, I think one thing that’s really important here, too, is that when you’re crafting an ad for outside of Amazon, not everybody is just going to click through on that. And so I would take the messaging inside of the ad, right, like both the literal messaging whatever words you put in there, and Also the perceptual, you know, kind of ways that someone would describe the product that you showed them. And make sure that you are ranking for the keywords that are relevant in your ad, right that you have a sponsored brand and sponsored product campaigns that are also advertising for the messaging inside of your DSP campaigns. Otherwise, right, like you’re filling the top of a funnel that goes to your competitors. Yeah, yeah, you’ve generated leads, you’ve built a category, but you haven’t built your brand, make sure you’ve got things set up on both ends of that.

Kevin Weiss 34:33
Yeah. And I mean, the part that dovetails from what you’re saying there is, most brands I’ve seen advertised on the DSP, they don’t actually put a whole lot of time and energy into the creative, which is like, they add a lot of them, they do the easy button thing, which is called dynamic e-commerce ads. And it basically just takes all of the existing assets from the list that would grant them that that can work. It’s an easy button, and I’ve seen you return on sales from that. So really, really strong performance through the DSP, just doing those ads. But I’ve also seen a lot stronger performance when you start doing like, like bad banner ads, like static banner ads, where you create a specific ad in different ad sizes. So those normal ad formats that you get, and those have, in many cases, much better performance than the dynamic e-commerce ads. In other cases, I’ve seen a dynamic ad like a video ad or html5 ad, just absolutely crushed the performance of a dynamic e-commerce ad or a static banner ad. So when you start reaching customers just like you said, or you do have to think about how the customer is going to see your ad see your product. But if you have time and not a lot of budget, like the scenario that you described, you can spend time creating those banners creating those ads and then getting really targeted. Hitting the right customer and you can get a huge, huge lift on there where you’re not limited the same way that you are with keyword advertising, you just may have to look at it differently. And the things that you’re doing and spending time on just might look a little different than some of the things when you’re when you’re going and doing search advertising with sponsored product sponsored brands. So this is an area that I think the smartest, like the smartest and savviest sellers and vendors alike have been innovating and testing around and they’re citing it as some of the main growth drivers for the business. So if you get it right, and you’re getting the good results, it’s huge. You can scale it’s really really effective.

Eric Stopper 36:39
Yeah, it typically looks different on the outside to when someone is really a pro these days. You can tell you know they’ve got a good setup where they show up everywhere that they should man I swear there’s some there’s some like email marketing campaigns that I’ve been in for like a year. But I don’t unsubscribe because they’re doing it right. You know, I think it’s kind of the same. idea here.

Unknown Speaker 37:00
Yeah, appreciate the craft,

Eric Stopper 37:01
right? Yeah. Yeah. So to me, you know, yeah, this I got this big brain I figured out. Oh, man. So um, what about coupons? I’m looking like, right like there’s an advertising tab on Seller Central. And there’s a campaign manager plus Content Manager, early reviewer program like, though, the A plus manager and early reviewer those don’t even seem like advertising products, but I guess Amazon views them as such. And right here, I see coupons. So how can you use coupons to hack your Amazon advertising?

Kevin Weiss 37:35
Well, good question. Anything that you can do to get an additional batch or additional sense of urgency for the customer to buy is going to improve the click through rates and the conversion rate from your ads. So I don’t have all the Data Prep with me. This would have been a good one to have actually, like in increased performance on your ad campaigns when you’re running ads. Active coupon and if without the percentage off or dollar off, but you definitely see the increased performance on it. For sure.

Eric Stopper 38:06
I’ve got some numbers to back Kevin up to. So we’ve seen increases of 60 to 240%. On click through rates for listings that have a coupon, as opposed to not having a coupon, it adds an additional layer of value. It’s also green, right? Like you’re basically putting a little green light on your listing and us us you know, we’re all monkey shoppers right? We’re using shortcuts to make our decisions. Well, you know, we want to tap more to touch the green thing right. I want to go catch the little dragon fly.

Kevin Weiss 38:42
Yeah, e-commerce is a science right and and and so this is one of the reasons why Amazon has all these badges they work right. So if you’re the number one new release, or if you’re the bestseller, you’re Amazon’s choice, you’re on coupon if you’re a lightning deal, daily deal. I mean, there’s there’s all these different badges and if you can activate one of them you will get better performance in your ad campaign be smart about that I like to recommend that you build a little bit of margin into your your pricing so that you can run discount like you can run on promotion and not feel like you’re losing money but build that in like build that cost in there for promotion so that you can run it and it’s going to give you better performance both with your ad campaigns and it’s going to push more dollars to the bottom line if you’re building that into your your cost model when you go to market with a product

Eric Stopper 39:29
there are miles and miles of marketing research to support these ideas right like if you just just showing the strike through on a price shows this inherent inherent deal that people are getting and they click on it more often right like the numbers are in and these and these are the tactics that work

Unknown Speaker 39:50
for sure.

Eric Stopper 39:52
What else do we do we have what are the what are the limitations can we fill in the gaps with with some Amazon advertising hacks

Kevin Weiss 40:00
Yeah, well, without a doubt the Amazon native UI, it’s taking its fair share of flack and criticism for being really basic and, and, you know, currently Amazon, they’ve made it a little bit better. And they’ve done a lot of work on the back end, to build for scale and to make it better faster. But there’s still no doubt about it. There’s things that you should and need to be doing as an advertiser that you simply cannot do in the Amazon native UI. So if you’re going to advertising on amazon.com, or if you’re going to Seller Central, you’re now getting the campaign manager and you’re managing your campaigns through there, you’re missing out on low hanging fruit and performance that you can get through some different tools. And so obviously, you know, I’ve got plenty of bias in this regard. We’ve got a ton of different features and functionality that take advantage of automation, machine learning, AI, and other rule and also rule based optimization that just packed the way that Amazon normally allows you to run advertising. So if you’re not using that platform, or if you’re not working with a partner that is using ad tech, to take advantage of automation, you are missing out, you need to change that. And hopefully you’ll take a look at us, and also the other experts out there. They’re using it.

Eric Stopper 41:19
That’s perfect. Kevin, thank you so much for coming on.

Kevin Weiss
Thanks for having me here.

Eric Stopper
To finish today’s podcast, I want to share some final thoughts for third party sellers. To be successful on Amazon. You’ve got to get reviews. We at Buy Box Experts are really big fans of the team over at eComEngine. And it’s tools that help Amazon sellers simplify the process of soliciting reviews from customers who purchase their products. For more information, go to ecomengine.com. Thanks for joining us today.

Outtro 41:47
Thanks for listening to the Buy Box Experts podcast. Be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web, and we’ll see you next time.

Meet the Speakers

Kevin Weiss

VP of Client Success for Ecommerce at Kenshoo

Buy Box Experts
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