Tips To Using AMS Ad Campaigns on Amazon.com To Grow Your Sales

Advertise on Amazon.com with AMSAmazon has a really simple ad program available to help you grow your sales.

Many people refer to these ads as “AMS ad campaigns” because Amazon Media Services runs the program.

Here’s how Amazon positions these ads:

  • Start a campaign for as little as $100
  • Pay only when shoppers click
  • Optimize performance with detailed sales reports

3 ways to advertise your products on Amazon.com

Amazon Product AdsAmazon offers three different approaches to promote your products or brand.

  1. Product Display Ads are cost-per-click product or interest targeted display ads that drive traffic to your product listing on Amazon.
  2. Headline Search Ads uses keyword targeted cost-per-click search ads offered. They allow brands to drive traffic to a brand page or to landing pages at Amazon with 3 or more skus (Amazon calls them ASINs).
  3. Sponsored Products are keyword-targeted ads that allow you to advertise the products you sell on Amazon.com. They use keywords in your campaign to the search terms that shoppers use to search for products at Amazon.com. When a shopper searches for the keywords in your campaign, your ad can show up.

Your ads will appear on the product detail page, on the left rail of search results, at the bottom of search results, on the customer reviews page and at the top of the offer listing page – in other words, all over the place.

Use AMS ad campaigns to generate a >500% ROI

I haveamazon-marketing-services-ad been using AMS ads extensively for the last 6 months and have generated an average ROI of 500% on my advertising dollars. There’s no catch but it has been a learning process. Not every ad campaign has been a winner.

AMS ads are not pretty. The creative for your campaign is automatically generated through the Amazon Marketing Services ad builder. You can customize the headline and logo before you send the ad. Importantly, you don’t need an ad agency or graphic designer to create effective ads.

Best of all, AMS ads are inexpensive. Amazon Marketing Services uses a cost-per-click, auction-based pricing model. You set the maximum cost-per-click you are willing to pay. The more competitive your bid is, the more likely your ad will be displayed.

Tips to getting the most from your AMS ad campaign

  • AMS Advertising on AmazonFor your first ads, pick your best sellers. Don’t be tempted to bring attention to slow movers or new products.
  • Create a short catch-phrase likely to interest your target audience to use for your headline. Don’t simply copy your product description into the headline. I’ve found “Save Now On…” works well unless there’s a key benefit I can highlight.
  • Click the option to display your ad as quickly as possible (don’t let Amazon spread it out evenly). Unless you’re overbidding, it’s hard to make impressions, so get as many as you can.
  • Change the month of the end date. Set the end date as far into the future as the system will let you (several months). You can end it anytime manually.
  • I have found product targeting drives sales better than interest targeting.
  • Select at least 25 (more is better) products to target. Don’t focus on near in competitors – think about the larger category or space your audience could be searching for.
  • Enter specific keywords, even key-phrases, highly relevant to your product. Try a variety of keywords and phrases, but remember that relevance is key.
  • Relevance matters when targeting, not only to get the most out of your ad (you want it to sell once you get traffic), but also to prevent your ad from being stopped.AMS Ads
  • Start your bidding around $1. This is your max out-of-pocket cost per click and you may be forced to raise it if you are not getting impressions (meaning you are not winning the bid). You can always raise your bid later. I like to proactively raise the bids of my most expensive keywords when they are generating sales.
  • Your stats aren’t show in real-time and can actually be delayed by a day. Don’t rush to make changes, especially at the beginning.
  • We’ve found that it pays to touch our ads every few days. Add keywords, or pause non-performers, extend the end date or change a bid. Do this with winners and losers.
  • You’re not obligated to spend your whole ad campaign budget. You can pause or end your ad at any time.
  • Name your campaigns by what you are trying to do. The default names aren’t helpful at all. Trust me when I say you’ll never remember once you get more than a handful of ads running (we’ve run 47 different variations and stuck with only a handful longer term).
  • Amazon has an ad performance dashboard that you should check daily. If you’re spending money but not generating sales, stop your ad before you lose more money. Try to improve your ad before running it again. An exception to this is when you are trying to get attention to a new item but think of this as an investment.
  • Look at your short-term ROI (return on investment). If that ROI is uncomfortably low (let’s say 100%), step back and try to decide why. Something isn’t working, so either stop the ad or try to improve it.

Try many different approaches with small sums and commit more heavily when you see something working. This is the secret to our crazy high ROI percentages.

Good Selling!
Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

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What’s Your Advertising Agency Accountable For?

Hold your ad agency accountable for resultsAds, of course.  Lots of ‘em.  Creative ones.  Ones that win awards.  Ads your boss will love.  Ads the agency loves to work on.  Beautifully illustrated, brilliantly written ads.  Oh, and a media plan.  Carefully crafted for the highest delivery, more points, lower CPMs.

That’s all swell, except you don’t need ads or CPMs.  What you need are customers that are buying your product.  Unfortunately, what many advertisers fail to do is to hire an advertising agency for accountable results.

Amazingly, accountability is a concept that often strikes fear in the hearts of both ad agencies and marketing managers.

 in the hearts of both ad agencies and marketing managersIs that because the agency’s creative director is more interested in making “cool” ads than boosting sales?  Is your marketing manager more interested in going on the photo shoot than delivering customers?  Is the account executive spending more time on the fairway than talking to your distributors?

You may have heard (or even made) those kinds of accusations at one time or another.  But, in all likelihood, they’re unfounded.  The real problem is the lack of a plan.  Without a plan, neither the agency nor your marketing staff know, with confidence, what is expected of them.  The accountability for the advertising plan starts at the very top of your corporate ladder.

There are four essential links in the planning chain that precede the ad plan.  Like any chain, if you remove a link, it falls apart.  And, if you expect to make your advertising agency accountable, they need to be familiar with all the elements that provide the foundation for the advertising plan.

In order of occurrence and importance:

1.  Mission Statement – Whether you’re a billion-dollar public company or a half-million dollar retailer, you should have a straight forward mission statement that everyone – yes, positively every employee in your company – should know and understand.  In one simple paragraph, you should state why you’re in business.

2.  Strategic Plan – This is a three to five-year view of how you plan to achieve your mission.  It anticipates risks and opportunities in the marketplace, and strategies to prepare your business for them, through organizational structure, capital investments, distribution channels,  product mix, etc.  A strategic plan should be a continually evolving document, although one that changes too radically or too often is impossible to implement.

3.  Marketing Plan – The marketing plan is an annualized version of the strategic plan, emphasizing tactical implementation:  What do we want to do this year and how do we plan to do it?

4.  Communications Plan – One of the subsets of the marketing plan, the communications plan should incorporate advertising, public relations, employee communications and community relations.  It should clearly identify communications objectives, strategies and tactics.

5.  Advertising Plan – Finally, we’re there.  But don’t get too comfortable.  You’ll probably need multiple advertising plans, one for each campaign or each brand, product or service that you plan to advertise.

Who Is Responsible for the Advertising Plan?

The ad plan should be written by the agency – probably a team effort of the account supervisor, planner, creative director and media director.  They don’t pull the information out of thin air – the input comes from the client.  The ad plan encapsulates all of that input (often gleaned from days of meetings and pages of research) into a simple and brief document (not more than a couple of pages) that confirms the agency knows what is expected of them.  The plan should be presented by the agency to everyone responsible for approvals at the client company, and a consensus reached.

What’s In the Advertising Plan?  

Avoiding badvertisingThe advertising plan consists of a series of basic questions and simple, straight-forward answers to each.  Specifically:

Why are we advertising?  There is only one reason to advertise:  To create a fundamental change in consumer behavior.  What behavioral change are you trying to make with your advertising campaign?  Among the most common possibilities:  Cause consumers to buy your product and not your competitors’ products; Cause customers to buy your product more often; Cause customers to pay more for your product; or, Cause customers to visit the point-of-purchase more often.

“To increase sales” talks about internal goals, but doesn’t address changes in consumer behavior.  Similarly, “to improve our image” or “increase brand awareness” are attitudinal rather than behavioral changes that fail to address a tangible result.

Beware of multiple answers.  If you have more than one goal, you should expect the results of each one to be diminished accordingly.

The next two questions need insightful, unbiased knowledge of your marketplace.  Whether you commission your own research study, purchase syndicated research or get the data from a sophisticated trade association, it is essential that you reach beyond your own empirical knowledge of the marketplace.

Who are we talking to and how do they act?  This question combines quantitative and qualitative issues.  “Who are we talking to” is a matter of defining your target audience in every possible respect.  Traditional demographics (age, gender, income and geography) are essential data for a consumer media plan.  For a business-to-business plan, the answer must identify markets and/or industries, typical titles of buyers and influencers, etc.  The more narrowly you define the audience, the more effectively targeted the advertising can be, in both media and creative terms.

“How do they act” addresses behavioral issues.  For instance:  Are they skeptical, conservative buyers that demand proof or are you after early adopters?  Are they driven by practicality or status?

What do they think of our product/service/company?  Do consumers perceive your product as the best quality, most desirable, best value, lowest cost, market leader, prestigious, – or all the opposites?  Maybe they don’t think of it at all!  If you’re launching a new product, go further and identify consumers’ attitudes towards your brand.

What do we want them to think of our product/service/company?  How do you want your product positioned in the minds of consumers?  Should it change?

What is the competitive environment?  What other messages are consumers receiving from your competitors?  What threats or opportunities do they pose for your advertising campaign?

What is the single most persuasive idea we can convey?  This is sometimes called a unique selling proposition, or USP.  What is the most important reason someone should buy your product or service over your competitors’?  The answer should always be stated in terms of consumer benefit, not simply product feature.

Why should they believe it?  The last question was reason to buy, this is reason to believe.  Your ad makes a claim, back it up.  Offer a free trial, cite independent research, refer to past experience – the more real your claim, the more sound and credible the evidence must be.

What 3 to 5 words define the brand personality?  Brands, even institutional and industrial products, have personalities associated with them.  Words such as “elegant,” “tough” or “trustworthy” convey that sense of personality.  Researchers sometimes ask consumers about personalities in terms of animals: “If brand-x were an animal, what would it be?”  Answers to this question can be enlightening and frightening!

Bewitched ad teamHow will we know if the advertising was successful?   Finally, we’re back to accountability.  To answer this, you’ve got to go back to the first question about why you’re advertising.  Having identified that goal, how will you measure it, and what performance is acceptable?

If you want your agency to be accountable, you have to agree to a plan that everyone can follow, beginning with a mission statement.  Include your agency in goal-setting, and the budgeting process to meet those goals.

Let your agency know that they’re accountable for results, not for ads or CPMs.  What about those great creative ads and brilliant media plans?  Truth is, they’ll never deliver results without them.

Special thanks to Todd Steele for his help with this post.

9 Simple Principles To Avoid Badvertising

How to avoid badvertisingBadvertising, or bad advertising, is all too common. Companies know they should be advertising to get their brand or product in front of potential buyers, but too often they miss the mark.

Sometimes it’s an effort to cram too much into one ad (I explore this problem in my post 5 Simple Tips for Creating More Effective Advertising). Other times it’s just creativity run amok.

“This is going to go viral” must be in someone’s head. Perhaps it does, but only by bloggers who watch for examples of badvertising. (Yes, they are out there. Let me know of your site if you’re one of them.)

Follow these simple principles to avoid bad advertising.

1.    Don’t pay to talk to yourself.

Media costs real dollars. Don’t waste them patting yourself on the back. Your prospects aren’t sitting around waiting to hear, act or believe anything your company has to say – especially if you’re busy talking about yourself.

2.    “You can’t bore people into buying your products.” – David Ogilvy

Why pay to blend in? Campaigns based on “quality” and “service” as well as other cliche ideas are guaranteed not stand out from the babble of the marketplace. Challenge yourself by translating USP’s in a new and interesting way.

3.    Don’t target your audience.

To comprehend this you must understand the “missing moose theory.” Come September 1st, the first day of moose hunting season, Tom Bodett doesn’t see any moose in Homer, Alaska. It’s because their being targeted. In other words, don’t target your audience or they’ll run, too.

4.    Don’t talk out of both sides of your media at one.

Establish a brand personality and stick with it.

5.    Don’t promise the moon, unless you’re NASA.

People know hype when they see it, and it turns them off. The best ads are about real situations with real benefits being addressed.

6.    Acknowledge that nobody roots for Goliath.

Nobody cares if you’re number one if your product doesn’t benefit them. So don’t flaunt you market position, even if you are number one.

7.    Eat jumbo shrimp.

There are no rules in advertising. Ads that break out of the norm are winners.

8.    Swing for the fences.

Nobody remembers Babe Ruth as the “Strike-Out King.”

9.    Fail.

Don’t be afraid to miss once-in-a-while.

Great advertising communicates powerfully. Badvertising is shouting for attention.

Avoiding badvertisingUltimately, you want to create advertising that will do one of these three things:

  • Build your brand
  • Generate leads
  • Drive sales

The temptation is to have it do all three.

Work to make your advertising meaningful by telling your story in an engaging and relevant way that will activate a relationship to create a customer (hopefully for life). The provide a simple, clear call to action.

Do you have other ways to avoid badvertising?  One of my favorites is this post from Miriam Hara in her Hoop!a blog: Bad Advertising: It’s Not In The Brief.

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.