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Megan harbold

Megan Harbold is the VP of Global Strategic Consulting at Kenshoo, a technology platform that helps brands plan, activate, and measure effective marketing across all of the most engaging digital channels. Kenshoo is a leading Amazon partner and is considered the number one Amazon Advertising solution for e-commerce marketers.

Megan is an expert in e-commerce and Amazon advertising, digital marketing, and consumer and client relations. Prior to joining Kenshoo, Megan was the Vice President of Ecommerce at The Mars Agency. She holds an MBA in Marketing from the York College of Pennsylvania.

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

  • The key strategic nuances of Amazon and why brands should take a customer-first approach
  • Do Amazon customers behave differently from traditional e-commerce shoppers?
  • Megan Harbold talks about product positioning and the use of keywords on Amazon
  • How to create campaign structures that are specific to your business goals
  • When should you start thinking about automation, and how can Kenshoo help?
  • Why brands should create and view every Amazon listing as a separate business
  • The most useful metrics for checking your performance on Amazon
  • Megan shares her best practices for Amazon Advertising success

In this episode…

When selling on Amazon, it’s important to stay aware of the platform’s various key advertising nuances. For instance, if you want to get a clear and accurate picture of the performance of your listings, you’ll have to look beyond what Amazon is reporting. 

The best way to do this is with a third-party software, such as Kenshoo. Kenshoo helps brands navigate all of the important nuances within the platform so that they can achieve Amazon Advertising success. For example, Megan Harbold of Kenshoo explains that brands should take a customer-first approach when promoting listings, as Amazon is more centered on consumers than keywords. 

In this episode of Buy Box Experts, Eric Stopper talks to Megan Harbold, the VP of Global Strategic Consulting at Kenshoo, about some of the key advertising nuances on the Amazon platform. They discuss how to create a strategy around Amazon’s customer-focused approach, when brands should start thinking about automation, and how Kenshoo can help you take your Amazon Advertising to the next level. 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 e-commerce 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. We’ve got a team of consultants. I’m one of them, go to click on the free analysis button and you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team. We would love to help you out. There is a lot going on in the world that demands e-commerce attention. And so if you’re worried at all about your business, please reach out to us free listing analysis button. This episode is part of a 10-part series 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 Megan Harbold, the VP of Global Strategic Consulting. And we’re going to be discussing Amazon in the weeds, important nuances and best practices for Amazon advertising success. Now for anyone’s whose college professors might have just assumed that you know what nuance means. It’s basically a small difference, like the fact that Amazon reports on return on ad spend. But they’re nuanced. And the fact that they use a cost report for this number, it’s a little bit different. It means that you have to think about different things for your business and understand what those numbers actually mean in the grand scheme of things. And so I’ve brought Megan on, she is an expert. Without further ado, welcome to the show.

Megan Harbold 1:37
Thanks, Eric. Looking forward to digging in.

Eric Stopper 1:39
So I think a good place to start would be just identifying kind of the key nuances of Amazon and going from there.

Megan Harbold 1:48
Yeah, and so when I hear nuances with Amazon, especially Amazon advertising, I think my head immediately goes more to the strategic nuances. So I think I’m really under the impression that your strategy for Amazon advertising isn’t going to necessarily be the same as it is for Google or Facebook or even for, you know, the more traditional approaches that many of us have our backgrounds in or are used to. And so often, you know, customers or advertisers, as you would, you know, start their approach and structure of their campaigns with a keyword. And I would say, maybe there’s a nuance there that it’s not necessarily a keyword first in the world of Amazon.

Eric Stopper 2:34
So, give it to the folks who are managing the ads. Some of them probably just heard you in Wait, hold on a second. Don’t focus on the keyword first. What should I be focusing on first?

Megan Harbold 2:49
Yeah, and that’s where it gets a little crazy. Taking a step back thinking firstly and foremost about your strategy. And I would say on Amazon in particular, it’s really about That customer. You know, Amazon themselves as a company is founded in that customer first approach, really making sure that they’re driving things like that assortment and that the trust and convenience, having the right price, you need to have those exact same considerations and be very clear and understanding your brand or your product role in influencing that consumer. When you have that kind of mapped out and you understand how your consumers engage with Amazon, how they expect to engage with your brand on Amazon, then you can really start to get into the nitty gritty of the strategy. And again, having that customer first approach doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all about the keyword but there’s other things like placement or the product that are very important considerations. And Amazon luckily gives us the tools to to start thinking through more strategically.

Eric Stopper 3:50
So I’ve touched on this topic with a few people in this series about right like what is Do we have about our customers on Amazon? It seems like the underlying assumption is that the way that people shop or the shoppers on Amazon are different, in some way than a traditional point of data when it comes to e-commerce, right? They behave differently. They have different belief structures, they’re looking for different things. They use different, like heuristics or models to make their purchases. And so how is a brand supposed to figure this difference out? Or is it or all their customers generally the same and how they behave online?

Megan Harbold 4:35
That’s a really nuanced question. I do I definitely think you know, there’s definitely some obvious heuristic needs, right? And I think one of the biggest Well, I should say two of the biggest themes that we see today are essentially the trust that they have in your brand and or in your product I should specify and the convenience by which they can get that product So if you think about trusting convenience as your two major metrics of success with your consumer, what does Amazon provide us in terms of data and intelligence to understand? Are we doing that well or not advertising and your placement within advertising is obviously a key part in that, but there’s a lot of other things, especially around this kind of concept of retail health, that ultimately can give you clues as to where to really focus and make sure you’re optimizing.

Eric Stopper 5:30
I mean, there’s a million different directions that I can that I can go with it. So I’m gonna take two steps back and address the issue of like, what should everybody focus on first, you said specifically, your strategy and approach, right? So on Google, right? The objective is to determine what kinds of questions people are asking of Google that you can answer and that you can then Either capture that person’s data and retarget them or that you can directly market a product through some sort of SEO, article, video, whatever those are. So for Amazon, right, these customers are starting their search with a purchase decision in mind at some point. And so the keywords sound really, really important in that situation, what people are searching for is very similar to Google. And it sounds like the devil is going to be in the details. You talked about product positioning, and what does that mean on Amazon for all these brands?

Megan Harbold 6:37
Yeah, I think it’s not to say keywords aren’t important. I think what’s more important is what you do with the keyword aka which products are you surfacing for that keyword search, are those the right products a for that consumer be for your brand, in terms of things like profitability and success of, you know, the experience that that consumers going to deliver See to drive maximum scale and growth. And I think that’s where, again, this nuance is really coming to light. It’s not just a keyword consideration. It’s that full funnel that full understanding of what that consumer is going to do. Once they do that keyword search, are they going to interact with your product? Because it was in fact the right one or not?

Eric Stopper 7:21
So is his click through rate, then the metric that everybody needs to look at to determine whether or not their product is well positioned for a keyword? Or is there another better way of looking at it?

Megan Harbold 7:33
This is where, again, I think if we start with the foundation of Firstly, do you know what your mapping is? Do you know which keywords belong to which products? If you haven’t gotten that far, then there’s the first thing that has to be done is essentially creating that data intelligence around retail health. Once those are all in place, likely what that means is you’re going to have to deliver different types of ads structures. Right. So now we’re getting back into this foundational concept of how you’re even creating campaigns, what ad groups go in those campaigns, which keywords target, which. And this is really, really critical. Because of all the challenges and potential, you know, stock apps and how Amazon reports back metrics, you need to make sure that your campaign structures are set up in a way to give you the right level of data and intelligence to make those kinds of optimization decisions. Further. This is where the measurement piece right becomes critical as you’re going through this process of understanding keywords, and mapping and what that ad structure needs to do to deliver the best insight possible. You’re also defining what those KPIs are for success. So if you as a brand, have identified 10 products that are must win, I always have to be at top of search, I always have to be getting the click over XYZ competitor, then your metric for success likely isn’t going to be Rojas right or a POS or whatever the data point Is that Amazon’s able to surface to you. But instead, it could be something more around share voice or maybe you’re tracking the level of investment for that reason. So something like percent of spend as a, as a into your total revenue, for example. And that can be a way again of repositioning, how you strategize success and how to create your campaigns around what that strategy is.

Eric Stopper 9:28
Okay, lots of digging into there. So, campaign structure. This is so funny, right? Because Amazon is typically just one of the channels that we sell through. And we all take it so seriously, because this is our world that we live in and we’re super into the details. Some people are just like, I’ve got my automatic and I’ve got my manual and whatever some people will do like, like there’s usually Super Bowl campaigns that I’ll see that people set up anyways. campaign structure My understanding is that and please correct me if I’m wrong because I, I am also the student here and I, I manage my own accounts, but we have a team of account managers who are really in the weeds on all of this. But my understanding is that we have discovery campaigns where there’s, it’s kind of a blast, right one of them is automatic, you let your automatic campaign just kind of like put you in different places on all over Amazon and waste your money at about a 30% loss to find more keywords. And then I typically will have a manual discovery campaign as well, where I do broaden phrase matches. And I’m, and I’m going through and I make a list of all the different ways that I think somebody could search for my product and I put them in there and I set my budget at like 20% of my total spend, and I just let it ride. And then on those discovery campaigns inside of them, some of them are Just like keyword data from Cerebro, right, and I put a date on it, and some of them are. Oh, geez, what’s another one that I have? Oh, I’ll do hobbies. Right. So I saw earplugs that attach to glasses. So if you do woodworking, I have a woodworking ad group. And if you do construction, I have a construction ad group. And then on the flip side of all those things, I have a manual performance campaign, where I’ve run my advertising reports on my discovery campaigns, and I see the ones that are giving me the maximum amount of impressions and the maximum amount of revenue, and I put those into the campaign. And I just smash the bid button as hard as I can and try to populate my stuff to the very top. It sounds like the level of granularity is still missing from my particular strategy. So is there a better way? Is there a perfect campaign structure? What do you think?

Megan Harbold 11:54
Yeah, I think you know, there’s a ton of opportunity to Think about your campaign structure specific to your goals and your business and your product line. Right. So I think what we’re seeing if we talk in very high level generic terms around what strategies, those who could say are very mature in the space are doing is they’re starting to get much more granular in terms of singular A’s into singular keyword type structures, to really, again, maximize the control of what data and intelligence you’re getting from that performance to better optimize. This also is a really great way and more refined. You can be in those structures, the better automation tools, like a Kenshoo, for example, are going to work, right? Because it’s very, very clear and linear, the path in which you’re headed. To get there, though, you brought up really great points, right? What about automatic campaigns? What about keyword discovery? What about these more higher funnel, behavioral types, behavior behaviors that you want to target? I would still say there needs to be some work to understand what sort of what products you hypothesize fit best in those scenarios, and D duplicate them out of your performance campaigns, if you’ve got the top 10 items in your assortment that you’ve identified as the best performers in terms of, you know, highest rating and reviews, always in stock, never have any eligibility issues, no three p seller, competition, anything like that, you know that if you surface this product, it’s going to get a click and or a conversion, then that shouldn’t be the product that’s surfacing very generic.

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