The Sponsored Products negative keywords option has been around for quite some time. Many sellers are not taking full advantage of it, however. In 2017, more sellers did finally embrace Amazon PPC advertising. The bulk of Amazon’s ad revenue came from Sponsored Products, and sellers had to fall in line to remain competitive. Sponsored Products negative keywords did not come into play as much as expected, however, and this is a huge missed opportunity.
Why Use Sponsored Products Negative Keywords
Many sellers might tend to shy away from using the Sponsored Products negative keywords feature because it’s unfamiliar. Overlooking this feature is a missed opportunity, however, so here’s why you should start using it.
Sponsored Products negative keywords is a top strategy for controlling advertising costs.
The first step in building Amazon PPC campaigns is choosing the products and keywords that will go into the different ad groups. Many factors affect how a campaign is structured, such as size, product type, and targets. There’s no definitive formula for this, and it can get very complicated. The usual result of the process is, ironically, an under-optimized bunch of keywords that may or may not work. Most often, several of these keywords eat up the budget without having a significant positive impact.
Basically, when you leave out Sponsored Products negative keywords, you waste a lot of money on irrelevant keywords that slip through. Adding negative keywords to your PPC campaigns is like adding filters for broad match search terms that are not relevant enough to spend on. Sponsored Products negative keywords block your ads from showing, saving you from paying for low-value keywords. They also, therefore, help to increase your click through rate.
Using negative keywords to optimize your PPC Campaigns is one of the most effective and efficient ways to increase your bottom line. Use them to refine your targets to improve campaign performance. The more you use them – selectively, of course – the more efficient your campaigns become. You get more bang for each advertising buck with lower cost of sale and higher ROI.
Limitations of Negative Keywords in Sponsored Products Targeting
Before you start using Sponsored Products negative keywords, it’s important to know their limitations:
- You cannot set ASINs as negative keywords – you cannot block other products or ASINs this way.
- You cannot set negative broad matches – you can only set negative keywords, phrases and exact matches.
- Negative exact matches have the same 10-word and 80-character limit as all regular keyword matches, but negative phrase matches have a 4-word limit per keyword.
Keep these limitations in mind as you make your selection of Sponsored Products negative keywords.
How to Find and Use Negative Keywords
So you have your products and your list of popular keywords, and you’ve figured out all the factors involved in your campaign structure. Now you need to identify all the bad keywords that could slip through on broad matches.
1. Refer to the Amazon Sponsored Products Search Terms Report
This report is the best way to identify Sponsored Products negative keywords. The report will tell you what campaign keywords are eating up your ad spend without producing results. Once a month, look for the search terms that got high volumes but did not result in high click-throughs. Most likely, there was no conversion because your product was irrelevant to the search.
Rank the search terms by highest impressions and highest spends and mark them. Take the ones that also show the lowest click through rates, conversions, or conversion rates and mark them for consideration. As you sort through the terms, keep an eye out for other obviously irrelevant matches and mark them as well. The worst offenders of them all will be what you add as your Sponsored Products negative keywords. Because of the limitations, you might not be able to add them all. At least, however, you’ll be able to minimize your losses by choosing the worst ones.
This is a reactive approach – fixing your Sponsored Products negative keywords after you have already lost money. It is the most accurate approach, however, since it shows you exactly what terms are draining the dollars. Each month, you can reassess and refine to continually improve your campaigns.
2. Do Research to Find Negative Keywords
For a more proactive approach, you can do research and apply common sense to find Sponsored Products negative keywords. This way, you can lower the chances of wasted ad spend before your campaign goes live. For instance, you can eliminate terms that you absolutely don’t want to be associated with your products right off the bat.
Start by searching one of your main keywords on Amazon. Go through the auto-suggestions and take note of any irrelevant ones that come up. These will be the most highly searched terms related to your keyword but irrelevant to your product. Next, add letters of the alphabet from A to Z after the term and scan and note the suggestions again for irrelevant matches.
Choose your Negative Keywords Carefully
If you’re just getting started with a product, you won’t have a lot of data yet. Carefully consider the implications of the Sponsored Products negative keywords you use. Be sure that these terms are actually irrelevant before you exclude them.
In general, data is very valuable to you in guiding your keyword decisions. Search trends change as people’s habits and interactions with search tools change. The search data you gather is the only way you have of knowing the two most important trends in terms of your sales: how people are searching for your product (actual relevant matches), and how their searches in general trigger your ads (actual irrelevant matches). Without this data, you could be taking some very bad shots in the dark.
If you need to generate hype for your product, using Sponsored Products negative keywords can reduce the visibility that you would otherwise get for a new product. If maximizing impressions is more important than ROI for you at this point, consider holding off for a while.
More Tips on Effectively Using Sponsored Products Negative Keywords
Your campaigns need to have a consistent structure to them so that you can accurately track results. A rough structure can be good for gathering data, but a focus is necessary for proper analysis. For instance, you can choose to form campaigns based on product category, top sellers, or brand. Sticking to one method also prevents you from creating duplicate ads that will just drain more ad spend without giving you additional relevant data.
Similar products should be kept in the same ad group because they are a contextual match. Similar products likely have similar keywords, and this keeps your ads cost-efficient. The caveat here is when you have very different profit margins for the products in one group. Figure out a good ACoS for each ad you plan to run before you begin optimizing, including Sponsored Products negative keywords. This way you won’t be caught off guard when analyzing ad profitability and the impact that different profit margins have on it.
When you have product sets for which not all the keywords are relevant, create different ad groups for product subsets. The larger product group may be similar, but there will be good keywords that just don’t apply to all of them. Don’t waste ad spend by grouping them together. For example, you can create subsets based on variant identifiers like material or size. This will heavily depend on what clearly distinguishes the sets of your specific products. Play around with identifiers and sets to get the most logical groupings.
Keep in mind that you will always have some very general keywords that fit all your subsets. Don’t be tempted to throw these into all of them. Having the same keyword in all your groups will create confusing results. It will become difficult for you to track which ad is being shown for that keyword is it’s in more than one group. Instead, take variations of the same keyword to add into the different groups. You can also choose to group all the general keywords together, and group the more specific terms together based on variant relevance.
A/B Test with Amazon Automatic Campaigns
Run a manually targeted campaign and add group and an automatic one at the same time. Test what Amazon has identified for you as relevant keywords against what you have selected for the same exact products. Evaluate after a week or two to identify the search terms that have generated the most sales and incorporate them into your manual campaign, with a higher CPC bid. Always go about a dollar higher because these new keywords won’t have any click history yet. You need to generate some impressions and clicks to make Amazon notice your ad to consider for display. Then you can lower it to find the optimal bid price.
Optimize Your Listings with Relevant Keywords
Make sure that your listing title, attributes, description, and search terms include the keywords that you have in your campaigns. Amazon will always show ads that are highly relevant, so you need to match your listings to your ads.
Sponsored Products Negative Keywords Work
When used correctly, the Sponsored Products negative keywords feature is one of the best ways to immediately decrease advertising costs without negatively affecting conversions. High-profit PPC campaigns rely on Sponsored Products negative keywords to control waste on worthless impressions. Your budget then goes to the most relevant, high-converting searches.
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