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Julia Nelson
Julia Nelson is the Director of Ecomm Expert Services & Enablement at Kenshoo, a technology platform that helps brands plan, activate, and measure effective marketing across all of the most engaging digital channels. Julia earned her degree in Arts, Marketing from the Carson College of Business at Washington State University. Prior to joining Kenshoo, she was the Director of Enterprise Ecommerce Marketing at content26, LLC.

Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips is the Sales Director of Ecommerce at Kenshoo, where he oversees the development and expansion of strategic e-commerce accounts that use Kenshoo to manage their Amazon campaigns. Peter has a background in e-commerce services, software business development, client management, campaign optimization, and more. Before Kenshoo, Peter was the Director of Business Development at Marketplace Ignition.



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

  • Julia Nelson talks about Kenshoo’s Share of Voice Insights and the benefits of appearing at the top of search results
  • Peter Phillips discusses the differences between paying for shelf space in traditional retail stores and selling on Amazon
  • Can brands include upsells or product placements on the Amazon marketplace?
  • Why you should bid and advertise for your own brand names on Amazon
  • Kenshoo’s philosophies on how to achieve top of search using ad campaigns
  • How to know if you’re on the right track with your Amazon advertising strategies
  • The top metrics to look at when making advertising decisions
  • Julia and Peter’s strategies for creating optimized Amazon listings that stand out from the competition

In this episode…

The growth of online marketplaces—especially Amazon—means that there is now more competition among brands to appear on the first page of search results. Achieving the top spot on that page is an added advantage, as this is the biggest driver when it comes to returns and general revenue.

However, for brands to get a coveted slot on the first page of Amazon, they must have a savvy advertising strategy. That’s where Kenshoo comes in. Kenshoo is designed to help brands create optimized listings by providing the in-depth insights they need on everything from Share of Voice data to the performance of different ad campaigns.

In this week’s episode of Buy Box Experts, host Eric Stopper interviews Julia Nelson and Peter Phillips from Kenshoo about how to create Amazon ads that put brands at the top of search results. They discuss why businesses should advertise for their own brand names, which metrics to pay attention to when making advertising decisions, and how to optimize your listings for Amazon’s algorithm. 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 Experts 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

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:09  

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s ecommerce world.

Eric Stopper  0:18  

And welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast This is Eric Stopper. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. And listen, I know you’re stressed. I know that the senior management at your company doesn’t understand the marketing tactics that you want to employ. They don’t understand that you need more budget, they don’t get it. Come and talk to me and let’s get on the phone call with them and I’ll just show them the numbers. Go to click on the free analysis button you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team and we will help you out. There’s no reason to stress on Amazon. This is supposed to be fun. We’re making money. 

This episode is part of a 10-part series that we’re doing With the geniuses at Kenshoo, we thought to bring together our collective knowledge in a way that was fun and educationally indispensable. Today, I’m joined by Julia Nelson, Director of Ecomm Expert Services and Enablement. And Peter Phillips, Sales Director for Ecommerce at Kenshoo. Guys, welcome to the show.

Peter Phillips  1:19  

Here, good to be here. Thank you.

Eric Stopper  1:22  

So today we’re talking about Amazon share. And more specifically, we’re talking about the anatomy of Amazon’s first page when it comes to advertising so you know, you guys are representing Kenshoo can choose an advertising first platform, but we’re going to talk about the differences between organic and paid and then how these things are arrayed on the page and then how you can utilize them in order to help your brand perform as as well as as possible on Amazon. And so, one of the first questions that I have for you is inside of the Kenshoo tool, there is something that gives Share of Voice. And it tells you like, of the people that are advertising around you. How many of the clicks go your way? How many of the sales go your way, kind of explain that part of the tool so that everyone gets a good understanding of what that does?

Julia Nelson  2:20  

Yeah, I can start with that. So it’s called brand insights. And essentially, for a given advertising account or given brand, you would select a certain amount of keywords that you want to focus on. And from there, we’ll start to track overall share voice for those given keywords over time. So then you can start to slice and dice all that data for a given keyword, what is paid and what is organic, and how you measure up to your competitors. So you can see your sharing, or maybe your overdriving on organic and then you have 20% towards paid. And you can compare that relative to the other competitors for that given search term, to see how your investment measures up.

Eric Stopper  2:58  

And that’s like how often Am I appearing at the top how often my appearing next to a competitor, will it tell me that like adjacency to other people, and

Julia Nelson  3:08  

stuff like that, you can look at the whole page cumulatively, and then you can also break it down by the first five positions. So I am nuanced with those first five positions and it’s gonna be a bit different depending on your category. So those first three positions could be paid, or the first four could be paid. And then the fifth is typically always organic, but that is kind of varying, and something that Amazon has been testing out as far as how many positions are, that are paid at the top of search results?

Eric Stopper  3:34  

And then how I mean this, this is a conversation I’ve had a bunch of different times, but how many of those positions actually matter to the customer? Yeah, I mean, are people scrolling past the first five products? I know for a fact I’ve been on the second and third pages of searches, but that might just be because I’m in this space. How important is it to be at the top?

Julia Nelson  3:55  

So top of search is typically very important. And you can look at that from a few different angles. You can, you know, look at your organic placement. So if you’re nowhere on the first page organically then paid top of search is very important because of that visibility. And then also you can compare your advertising metrics. So typically top of search is your top performing placement compared to other or product detail pages within sponsored products. So it can be really costly, but it’s also the biggest driver from a return standpoint, as well as just general revenue.

Eric Stopper  4:24  

That makes a lot of sense. So I’m trying to think of an analogy that you guys brought up prior to our recording where when I walked through an aisle at a traditional brick and mortar retail spot, I look around right and I have general ideas of what’s in that aisle. Sometimes I look at the titles of some of the foods that are in that aisle, but mostly like, if I look over and I see some brown sugar like I’m in the baking aisle, you know what I mean? I’m a simple consumer at my eye level. Those brands have paid Be there, right? In a grocery store? Like how does that work on the retail side? ignoring amazon for a second?

Peter Phillips  5:08  

Yeah, I mean, I’ve always enjoyed the analogy between brick and mortar operations and what you see in the digital world, you know, for traditional retail, shoppers may not realize, but brands have these shopper marketing budgets that they are investing with retailers, and they’re buying the end cap the placements on the end of the aisle, or they’re buying the shelf space that’s at eye level, as you mentioned, so that they are more visible and they can get more sales. You know, they have to pay a premium for that placement. And you talk to brands that are looking at Amazon looking at, you know, sponsored products, and maybe they’ve been selling on Amazon for a few years, maybe not. And they start to think why do I have to pay for a sale where I would have shown up at the top of the search results anyway. And the answer is If you’re not paying for it, if coke doesn’t buy that eye level placement on iOS seven, then Pepsi’s gonna get it though, you know, it is a necessary part of a successful program to you know, try to grab those paid placements in addition to boosting your organic rank and showing up in those organic placements as well.

Eric Stopper  6:23  

And now it’s it’s hard to string this analogy together you know completely apples to apples where you know, a sponsored product is you know, showing up on the the next highest shelf where everybody can see you and sponsored brand is like a, you know, like a whole a whole piece of the aisle that’s only your products. But I’m wondering like, Is there an end cap to Amazon search, you know, is there a way to just get the customer on their way to the checkout line? Or has Amazon really not quite gotten that far, you know, like almost interrupting their purchase process. to upsell them, so to speak, or their end caps like that on Amazon,

Peter Phillips  7:05  

I think the closest equivalent. I mean, you could say your sponsored brand is really premium placement at the top search results page. If you’re looking at, you know, capturing them as they’re going through the checkout. Then I’d say the product display ad placement right below the buy box is somewhat similar. So those things are different ways that you can sort of advertise a product that might be category adjacent, you can put that in the product ad placement placement, right below the buy box. So if I’m buying a new Bluetooth mouse, I might need batteries for that. So I might want to run that placement right under the buy box. I don’t know if there are other successful strategies that Julia has seen advertisers employed but those are the ones that come to mind.

Julia Nelson  7:57  

Yeah, as far as other opportunities to target specifically And so kind of the analogy of you’re in the checkout line and trying to divert those sales or basket bills. In addition to product display, or now sponsored display, there’s PDP targeting within sponsored products as well. So you can layer that a couple ways you can target at a keyword level and then increase your bid on PDP placements, meaning that you’re going to show up in category items on that detail page. So those placements are not quite the same as below the buy box. But there are multiple carousels within the PDP that you could show up for sponsored products, as well as we started to see sponsored brands placements show up there as well. And they’re kind of right below the product images. This is just released. So there’s not a ton of reporting insights yet. But kind of opening up. You know, the ad inventory for sponsored brands to also include the same placements as sponsored products. So that ad type can also scale. And then building on top of just search advertising all together on Amazon. There’s also a DSP and then even a sponsored display. Kind of like retargeting so you could retarget in market products within the same product or within the same category as your products, or even retargeting consumers that did not purchase on your event to begin with, and follow them through that purchase funnel until they come back to Amazon and hopefully complete the purchase.

Eric Stopper  9:18  

Man. I’m trying to imagine this if I’m Walmart, if I’m selling to Walmart, I’ve been doing that for a while in my business. I’ve got all this kind of figured out, right? There’s a finite amount of places that I can put my product and there’s a bid that I can make for those. But on Amazon, it sounds like it’s like the wild west and they’re always trying out new things. How does someone stay on top of all the different places that an ad can go? Or as does the automatic campaigns? Do they just do that now? They just put ads everywhere and populate you and all these special places? Or do you have to deliberately go in and like I want this to advertise, you know, at the keyword level at the category level under the buy box. How’d you know? How do you find all these things?

Julia Nelson  10:03  

Yeah, there’s kind of two, two silos to that. So they’re all sponsored products. So that’s all the same ad inventory, whether it’s keyword driven or automatic, or even product attribute targeting, where you can target a category or individual asen. They all are vying for the same position within sponsored products. And then the second layer would be the position adjustments. So that’s where you can prioritize top of search, or you can prioritize product detail pages. So those kinds of levers in conjunction with how you’re targeting is how you can isolate your strategies.

Eric Stopper  10:32  

Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Well, let’s steer you guys we’re talking about the buy box right now. We want to talk about just like the search page when people type in a term and products show up. We call that the SERP script when they’re searching for that, I want to understand two things. Are there questions that I get a lot. The first one is for the brands that already have some pretty good organic, brand search. I get fought and fought and fought. On like whether or not we should be doing ads on their own brand name, because they’re like, Look, you know, they’re gonna buy my product anyways, they’re searching for it. But Peter a second ago, you said that like, if you’re not bidding for it someone else is. And so I just kind of wanted to get your thoughts on the branded side of things. Is this a best practice? What kind of data indicators are going to tell you? If you should be advertising for your own brand name?

Peter Phillips  11:29  

Yeah, I mean, in my opinion, I think everybody should be just because, like we have been discussing, if you’re not doing it and your recognizable brand, somebody else is gonna bid on that. So if you know Nike doesn’t take placement, Reeboks going to or Adidas or you know, the list goes on. And so, I think the good news for advertisers is that if someone is searching for your brand name, your organic relevance or your relevance overall is Going to be greater such that you might not have to bid as aggressively, you know, to earn those placements. In which case, you know, you’ll show up right at the top and you might show up in a sponsored result and an orca ganic result right next to each other. And how great is that because it just means you’re taking up more of the shelf, more of the ice base for the shopper to then select one of your products. And so, you know, that’s going to also drive a good return because if the shopper is searching specifically for your product, you know, not only are you more relevant, but the shopper is very likely to convert on your product. So while it feels that you might have gotten that sale naturally, if somebody else swoops in because you didn’t take the placement, you may have lost that sale where the investment to get it was gonna be, you know, minimal compared to a generic category term. And the chance of conversion is going to be Very high. So it feels sometimes like I shouldn’t have to pay to play on my own brand. But in reality, you’re really missing out on a lot of potential sales if you’re not.

Eric Stopper  13:13  

Julie, anything to add?

Julia Nelson  13:15  

Yeah, I was just gonna say from kind of another angle as a way to somewhat compromise with that pushback from brands is say you’ve got you know, a few aces that rank really high organically for your given branded, but you have a new product launch, so maybe prioritize those reasons for your branded terms. It’s gonna be less expensive with high returns and you’re also getting that exposure for that new product that likely likes very low organically.

Eric Stopper  13:41  

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense. The one that comes to mind is there’s a company that sells ginger chews and there’s a branded name for those ginger chews and I saw that they were advertising their ginger juice for the ginger choose because this ginger choose already had the first spot. And so I think that’s really compelling. I had Never thought of that.

Unknown Speaker  14:02  

So that’s the branded side. The unbranded side is a huge headache.

Eric Stopper  14:14  

And I get questions all the time about campaign structure, and like bid optimization. And just everything that you can think of when it comes to bidding on just like a generic keyword that’s related to your product. I want to get a sense for how Kenshoo views the strategy when approaching top of search for a brand. In the context of which products to put at the top of those kinds of lists. How long to run those ads. I think we could get into a lot of the meat of this, but what are some of the core philosophies that Kenshoo has when approaching the problem of like, Okay, how do we get to the top of search?

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