Newsflash: Gone are the days of set-and-forget Amazon PPC campaigns.

Instead, to create long-term sustainable and successful campaigns, you simply must master the art of Amazon PPC optimization.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the four-step weekly optimization process I’ve been using and improving upon for the last five years across hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad spend.

This optimization checklist will help you cut costs, expand on winning campaigns, and grow the profitability of your business.

Let’s get started!

31-STEP CHECKLIST

Launch & optimize profitable Amazon PPC campaigns

free amazon ppc checklist

Why is Amazon PPC optimization important?

Amazon PPC optimization is vital in order to help reach key Amazon advertising objectives:

  • Sales: The primary purpose of PPC advertising is to generate sales. When a customer clicks on your ad and purchases your product, it translates directly into revenue. By optimizing your PPC campaigns you set them up to drive revenue on a long-term, profitable basis.
  • Visibility: Amazon is a highly competitive marketplace with millions of products. Without the right advertising strategy, your product could easily get lost in this vast sea. Well-optimized PPC campaigns help boost your product’s ranking in search results and drive more profitable, organic sales.
  • Data Insights: PPC campaigns generate valuable data, like which keywords are most effective or how many users click through to your product from search results. These insights can be used to optimize your overall marketing strategy and make informed decisions about product development, listing optimization, or pricing.
  • Brand Awareness: Even if users don’t click on your ad, seeing it can increase their awareness of your brand. The more familiar customers are with your brand, the more likely they are to purchase your products in the future.

Amazon PPC optimization is not just about driving immediate sales—it’s a comprehensive strategy to increase visibility, gather data, build brand awareness, and ultimately drive long-term growth on the Amazon marketplace.

Considerations before optimizing PPC campaigns

Every business will have different needs and objectives when running Amazon PPC campaigns.

As such it’s impossible to give specific tailored advice for every scenario here in this article.

Instead, what this article will cover is an overarching guide to the core principles of a healthy Amazon PPC optimization schedule to start with and adapt to your individual business needs.

To navigate these nuances and implement the optimization process, there are a couple of things to take into consideration.

Consideration #1: Marketing Objectives

Not every business will have the same marketing objectives.

New Amazon sellers will usually be using Amazon PPC to launch and rank new products.

As such, their objective will be to take a more aggressive approach upfront in order to establish visibility in search results.

This will usually mean an initial higher advertising cost with the goal of this being offset by the organic sales that will come later on as a result.

Whereas an established brand that adds Amazon as an additional sales channel on top of an existing direct-to-consumer approach will be far more focused on profitability.

They will be less concerned with customer acquisition – as this is already taking place off-Amazon – and more concerned with collecting revenue on branded search terms whilst also driving profitable revenue.

Consideration #2: Product Lifecycle

In a similar vein, each product has a lifecycle, and understanding where the products you are advertising are within their lifecycle will help define your optimization criteria.

If you try and immediately optimize a newly launched product’s PPC campaigns to a 10% ACOS (Advertising Cost Of Sales) you will stifle its launch and limit the organic ranking potential.

On the flip side, if you let an established product run wild with a 50% ACOS, you may struggle to turn a profit on it.

So, when deciding on your optimization approach, take these factors into consideration and adapt the parameters if need be.

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How to find Amazon PPC performance data

To optimize PPC campaigns, you first need to know how they are performing.

You can get a quick overview inside Campaign Manager, but to dig deep into the data and get accurate, actionable insights, you have two main options.

Search Term Report

Amazon’s Search Term Report is the treasure trove of information you need to make data-driven decisions when you optimize PPC campaigns.

It’s a report that details every impression, click, and conversion your ads have registered, and the search terms and ASINs that they relate to.

To download your report, head to Seller Central > Campaign Manager > Measurement & Reporting > Sponsored ads reports.

Click the ‘Create Report’ button and configure the report to your needs. The default setting of ’30 days history’ is fine.

a screenshot of an Amazon PPC search term report

Then after a few minutes of processing, you’ll be able to download an Excel file like the above which we’ll use to filter data in the optimization steps.

Amazon PPC Tools

If you’re not really a spreadsheet kind of person or want to speed up the process of optimization with some automation, there is a whole range of software tools that can help you.

I’ve used a lot in my time, and regularly update our guide to the best Amazon PPC tools in the market to help you choose the best one for your business.

In this guide, I’ll focus on the manual process using your Search Term Report as this is accessible to every seller, and will also teach you the foundational principles of optimization.

However, if you do want to speed things up (and automate most of the process) with a tool, you can try our #1 recommended option Scale Insights with a 30-day free trial.

RECOMMENDED TOOL
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5.0

Scale Insights is one of the fastest-growing Amazon PPC software tools for a reason. Created and used by 7, 8, and 9-figure sellers, but accessible in both price and functionality for sellers at all stages; from early beginner to seasoned PPC pro.

A 4-step weekly PPC optimization checklist

Keeping a regular schedule to optimize Amazon PPC campaigns is vital for your overall Amazon advertising performance.

There are a lot of levers you can pull and niche tactics you can deploy to improve your efficiency and profitability, but at the core of good optimization are four key pillars:

  1. Improving relevance
  2. Improving conversions
  3. Improving profitability
  4. Driving expansion

Let’s take a look at each one in turn to understand what criteria we’re looking for and the resulting optimization actions we should be taking when the criteria are met.

NOTE

While I mention a weekly checklist here, the timeline isn’t set in stone and if you’re short on time you can always run these campaign optimization steps bi-weekly or even monthly.

Step 1: Optimizing PPC campaigns for relevance

The first step in your Amazon PPC optimization checklist is to eliminate search terms and ASINs that are irrelevant to your product.

You can start with a very manual approach of going through the entire list of search terms in your report and finding terms that are clearly irrelevant.

For instance, if I’m selling a yoga mat and I see the search term ‘bluetooth headphones’ has had even one click, I’ll be sure to add that term as a negative keyword.

You shouldn’t get too many of these, but sometimes the Amazon algorithm works in mysterious ways and it’s good to periodically check for 100% junk search terms.

Then, a more data-driven approach is to filter for search terms and ASINs that have a low click-through rate (CTR).

Click-through rate can be improved in a number of ways, but when you notice some targets getting lower CTRs than others it’s time to weed the poor performers out.

To find them, filter your spreadsheet’s click-through rate column to less than 0.2%.

search term report filtering for click through rate

Then, add each of these targets as a negative keyword or ASIN in the ad group of the campaign it’s in by going to the campaign, selecting the right ad group, and choosing the negative targeting menu option:

adding negative keywords

Click the ‘Add negative keywords button’, then add your keywords into the box shown, double check the radio button is set to negative exact and not negative phrase, then add your negative keywords.

adding negative exact match keywords

STEP TWO SUMMARY

Optimization Objective

  • Locate and exclude irrelevant keywords & ASINs with a low click-through rate

Optimization Criteria

  • Impressions: > 1,000
  • Click-through rate: < 0.2%

Optimization Actions

  • Add targets as negative exact match keywords or ASINs within the ad group they appear

Step 2: Optimizing PPC campaigns for conversion

The next step is all about pinpointing targets that are successful in attracting clicks, but not translating those clicks into actual sales.

These targets, which could be specific search terms or ASINs, are costing money for each click but not providing a return on your investment.

For this step, we’re going to filter for targets that have hit our ‘click threshold‘ but made zero sales.

The click threshold you set will depend on the product’s conversion rate, lifecycle, and how aggressive your approach is.

For example, if your product has a historic conversion rate of 10%, then you would expect to see an average of one sale for every ten clicks.

Then, if you’re optimizing a mature product with a strict goal of profitability you would set a low multiplier to that number (eg. 1x – 10 clicks with no sales), whereas if it’s a new product you’re launching you would look to set a higher multiple (eg 2-3x – 20-30 clicks with no sales).

A lower multiple will keep costs down but may eliminate potentially relevant keywords before they have the chance to be fully tested.

Whereas a higher multiple allows targets more chance to come good but can result in higher ad costs in the short term.

And remember, you can adjust and update these thresholds at any time if you want to either tighten up on profitability or relax the guard rails to drive more visibility.

NOTE

Only apply this rule to automatic campaigns and manual campaigns with phrase match and broad match ad groups.

Rather than adding negative keywords to exact match ad groups, it’s better to optimize their bids until they either become profitable or stop spending money.

To find the targets that meet these criteria, open up your Search Term Report and add a filter to the top row, and filter for targets that have exceeded your click threshold…

search term report filter for clicks

…but have not produced any sales:

search term report filter for no sales

Then do the same as step one and add the search term or ASIN as a negative exact match keyword in the ad group it appears.

STEP TWO SUMMARY

Optimization Objective

  • Locate and exclude keywords and ASINs that are generating clicks but no sales

Optimization Criteria

  • Match Types: Auto, broad match, phrase match
  • Clicks: > click threshold (1x-3x CVR)
  • Sales: Zero

Optimization Actions

  • Add targets as negative exact match keywords or ASINs within the ad group they appear

NOTE

If this filter is consistently producing a large number of targets that are relevant to your product, the issue may not be your targeting but your listing.

Good PPC won’t fix a bad listing, so revisit the core principles of Amazon listing optimization to maximize your conversion rate.

Step 3: Optimizing PPC campaigns for profitability

Once you’ve weeded out the poor-performing search terms and ASINs from your ad campaigns, it’s time to turn your attention to profitability.

In this step of the process, we’ll look to optimize toward a target ACOS (advertising cost of sales) by managing bid levels.

The ACOS you are targeting will again depend on a few variables:

  • Product economics: the higher your profit margin, the higher the ACOS you can absorb and remain profitable.
  • Product lifecycle: for a new product launch you may be willing to accept a higher ACOS, whereas for an established product most sellers look to achieve a break-even or better ACOS.
  • Advertising goals: For some sellers, turning a profit with Amazon PPC ads is the goal. Others however will use ad campaigns as a method of customer acquisition and driving organic ranking.

Use these factors to decide on a target ACOS for each product and campaign.

If you’re not sure what your target ACOS should be, a good place to start with an established product is using your profit margin and setting your target at a break-even ACOS.

For example, if your profit margin is 30%, set your target ACOS at 30% too.

Then, open up your search term report and filter for any search terms or ASINs over your target ACOS.

filtering search term report for ACOS

Finally, reduce the bids of the keywords or ASINs in proportion to how much higher the ACOS is than your target.

To do this, go to the relevant ad group and choose the ‘Targeting’ menu:

targeting menu

Then either change bids individually or select all relevant keywords and click adjust bids…

adjust bid

…then ‘Decrease bid by (%)’ and enter the desired amount:

decrease bids by

STEP THREE SUMMARY

Optimization Objective

  • Reduce bids on high ACOS targets to improve the profitability of Amazon ads

Optimization Criteria

  • Sales: > 1
  • ACOS: > target ACOS

Optimization Actions

  • 1-2x Target ACOS: Reduce bid by 10%
  • 2x-3x Target ACOS: Reduce bid by 20%
  • >3x Target ACOS: Reduce bid by 30%

Note: by carrying out these optimizations each week you will bring targets down to a level that they are either profitable or don’t spend.

PRO TIP

Test setting a higher ACOS threshold for keywords that convert at 15% or better as these keywords will contribute more to driving organic ranking and thus long-term profitability.

Step 4: Optimizing PPC campaigns for expansion

So, we’ve removed poor-performing targets and optimized for improved profitability.

This final step in our 4-step process checks your Amazon ads for high-performing keywords and ASINs that are generating sales below your target ACOS.

This means there is room to increase bids giving an opportunity to drive more impressions, clicks, and sales.

As Amazon PPC is such an effective tool for driving organic rank and thus market share, this is a particularly powerful step in the keyword optimization process.

The process is almost identical to step three, except this time we’re filtering for keywords and ASINs below our target ACOS.

Once you’ve identified these targets, follow the same process as step three, but instead of decreasing, increase the bids by 10%.

STEP FOUR SUMMARY

Optimization Objective

  • Drive expansion by increasing bids for high-performing keywords and ASINs

Optimization Criteria

  • Sales: > 1
  • ACOS: < target ACOS

Optimization Actions

  • Increase bid by 10%

Don’t worry about pushing costs too high and ruining your ad campaign performance.

If the ACOS for one of these keywords or ASINs creeps up above your target, they will appear in the filters for step three in a future optimization process allowing you to nudge bids back down again and keep it in a sweet spot of performance.

Taking Things Further

While this Amazon PPC optimization checklist may feel a little overwhelming for new Amazon sellers, it really is just a starting point.

In time, there are many more optimization levers you can pull, such as:

  • Promoting high-performing search terms into your dedicated ‘scaling campaign
  • Creating single-keyword campaigns for high-volume keywords for extra control
  • Layering on Sponsored Brand ads and Sponsored Display ads to your overall Amazon PPC strategy
  • Testing advanced optimization techniques like dayparting – turning ads off at low-conversion times of the day
  • Using bulk sheets to speed up the optimization steps

However, what we’ve covered in this guide will provide solid foundations for those new to Amazon PPC ads and give a good base to work from.

In time, you can start to layer on additional ad campaigns, strategies, and optimization steps.

Amazon PPC Optimization FAQs

The frequency at which you optimize PPC campaigns is less about time and more about data. The more money you’re spending on ads, the more frequently you should be optimizing campaigns. For example, if you are spending $10 per day, you won’t be producing enough new data to run Amazon campaign optimization weekly and could get away with doing it monthly. If, however, you’re spending $1,000+ per day on ads, a weekly deep-dive is a must.

Automatic and manual campaigns work differently in that an auto campaign by nature gives you less control than a manual campaign. But, there are still some aspects you should be optimizing. Firstly, you should be adding any non-converting search terms as negative keywords as covered in step one. Then you should also be adjusting the bid of the different targeting settings (close match, loose match, etc) according to your ACOS goals as covered in step three.

Growing PPC sales on Amazon is about discovering an ever-growing list of relevant, converting keywords that you can push more and more budget to. By optimizing PPC campaigns and promoting converting search terms to their own dedicated campaigns you can scale up your budgets and grow your Amazon PPC sales.

The average conversion rate on Amazon is around 15% which is a good starting point to aim for with Amazon PPC. However, this is highly product and category dependent and to get a more accurate view of your performance in comparison to your competition, I’d highly recommend getting a free Benchmarker report from Perpetua.

Wrapping Up: Amazon PPC Optimization

Using Amazon advertising to grow your sales is not a one-off operation.

If you’re serious about success on the platform then you must set aside time to regularly optimize Amazon PPC campaigns in the four key areas we’ve discussed:

  1. Improving conversions so you’re running ads against search terms and ASINs that will actually turn into sales
  2. Improving relevance so your ads aren’t getting lost in search results
  3. Improving profitability so you get a consistently increasing return on ad spend
  4. Driving expansion for long-term, profitable growth

These core pillars lie at the heart of any good PPC campaign optimization strategy and are the foundation of what we teach inside PPC Masters – our in-depth Amazon PPC course.

If you want to master the art of Amazon PPC, we’d love to welcome you inside the Brand Builder University community!

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Ben Donovan

WRITTEN BY

Ben Donovan
Ben is the founder of Brand Builder University and has a passion for helping normal everyday people create financial freedom by building successful eCommerce businesses. He lives in Manchester, UK with his wife and 2 children and loves to play sport and watch continual re-runs of The Office (US version, obviously).

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