A guide to advertising on Amazon

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A guide to advertising on Amazon

My name’s Steven Lambert I work here in the paid media team at RocketMill. I’m gonna talk to you today about a guide to advertising on Amazon. More and more companies today are getting online and they’re starting to diversify their channels. So we’re gonna look at Amazon as an example today.

We’re gonna start with an overview. So this is why would you want to be on Amazon? What is Amazon Ad Rank and what is A9? We’re going to look at advertising on Amazon. So this is Paid Media advertising on Amazon, start providing a really good revenue and ROI through. We’re also going to take a look at tactics, so if you’re start up an established band you might have different tactics to promote your products. But first, we need to frame this. So we’ve created our own fictional company to take you through this journey of advertising on Amazon.


This is Graham, Graham sits over there, Graham loves good shirts, but Graham has a vision, he wants to share his shirts with the world, so he’s created a company called Graham’s Shirts. It’s a start-up company, he’s even set up his own website, he’s got a high-quality logo and he’s currently using paid media platforms to push traffic to his website, he’s using Google AdWords, Bing Ads, shopping on all of these, Facebook ads, bit of Pinterest, bit of Instagram, he’s even dabbling a bit on eBay but Graham’s got ideas. So he wants to try Amazon, all his friends are telling him it’s the thing to do, lot’s of people are making a lot of money on there so he wants to look into it. He wants an overview of Amazon what can this do, what can this provide to him?

Why Amazon?

So Amazon is big, like properly big. In 2017 the whole revenue for Amazon was £178 billion. 117 billion of that was purely from their shipping websites. But if you look at that trend it’s only going up. The gap each year is getting bigger and bigger so they’re just continuously growing. Amazon, in fact, wants to be known as the everything store. So they want to be the place where you can go, search for any single product and they’ll be there and you can buy that from them.

An example of this is in the UK. In January 2018 there were 370 million products on the Amazon website. If you think about that why would you try to compete with that? Why would you want to try and get in the mix on that? According to Search Engine Journal, the three top biggest search engines are Google number one, YouTube number two and Amazon number three. If you think about YouTube for a minute that’s purely content, videos, it’s not really selling products. Think about Google, you sell a lot of products on Google but there’s also a lot of wastage as well. The biggest search trend in 2017 on Google was about Meghan Markle.

Amazon is pure e-commerce. It’s the third biggest search engine but it’s people browsing to buy products and people looking to buy straight away on Amazon. Lots of people sell products on Amazon. In fact, most people in here I assume are probably Prime members, you get the video, you get the music, you get the free postage, but did you know you’re actually buying your way into your loyalty to Amazon. People on Prime spend twice as much on Amazon as standard visitors and that’s because you think oh I’m going to buy this from Amazon, I’ve already got Prime, I’ll just get it delivered to my house the next day. In fact last year five billion items were shipped purely on Prime alone. That’s 190 products every single second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, every month and in one week alone in 2017 four million Prime members signed up. The population of the whole of New Zealand is 4.7 million. That just shows you quite how big it is.

Amazon ad rank

So how do you get your products on Prime showing up in front of people? So Amazon ranks you. It uses a thing called Amazon Ad Rank. So here we can see the search for Hawaiian shirts and then you can see there’s a beautiful selection of shirts we’re going to compete against and here are the organic rankings. That’s the Amazon Ad Rank, that’s where you’ll show organically on Amazon if you don’t put any budget or paid media behind this. You can see you get a good ranking, these ones in the top right they’re selling well, they’re getting good products. There are ways you can influence that as well.

How do you get a good ad rank?

Well, there’s a couple of different factors that Amazon use to calculate ad rank.

Revenue per customer

There’s revenue per customer, this is literally how valuable you are to them as a customer. They want to do everything possible in their power to maximise this. They want to make as much revenue as possible per customer.

Customer actions

Then they look at all the other stuff you do. How long do you spend on a page? How do you, do you click on an image and enlarge it? Do you look at the reviews? There’s the experience, did you order the product? Did it get to you quickly? Did you have to return it? Did you leave a negative review?

Product information

And there’s the product information, the description, the image, have you given them bullet points, have you given them child products. So there’s a lot of information there.

All this combines into one powerful algorithm called Amazon A9.

Amazon A9

This is the name of Amazon’s search engine but there’s a difference. If you think about Google search engine, it’s purely based around giving you the most relevant results. They want you to go back and use that platform again and again and again. They are making an absolute fortune from the paid search around it but they want organic to give you the most relevant results. Amazon wants this as well but they’ll prove that they want to make the most money possible from you.

So if you have an amazing result you could rank highly but if you don’t make Amazon any money then you won’t. So all these factors jumble up in A9 and ultimately they produce your Amazon Ad Rank. So what ranking factors are there I hear you ask? Well, there’s product influenced. So when Graham’s setting up his products he can put all this information there. There are proper size images, there are bullet points, there’s price, descriptions, he can link to child products, he’s got different colours, have a fully optimised keyword title but if he does the most amazing product description possible, he won’t rank on Amazon because he’s missing all of these factors and these are the factors that have a huge influence on what you sell. If you’ve got answered questions, if people visit your page, it’s if you sell products it’s how quickly you sell your products. What your perfect order percentage is, so that’s the amount of products you sell that go flawlessly and don’t have any problems at all. That’s what Amazon wants from us. People buying stuff from you and buying them again.

How to be visible on amazon

So Graham’s done his listings, how can we get him showing well on Amazon? We can load the dice. So unlike Google, ads on Amazon can have a direct impact on how you do organically. You can push traffic to your page. The more you do that, the more he sells products, consequently an improvement in your ad rank. So now we’re going to look at some of the advertising options available to you on Amazon.

So Amazon actively encourages you to advertise on the website. They say “why do you want to advertise on Amazon?” Well, we wanted to help millions of Amazon customers discover your brand of products. You can get started with a small budget and create your ads in minutes, it’s simple. In a nutshell, it can target your keywords, categories and products. You can promote your products directly to the most relevant searches, get people to your page, consequently build your sales.

Ad types

So there’s a couple of different ad types we’ll go through.

The sponsored products

So you can see the nice yellow boxes around where the ads show, so this is your main kind of targeting method. You’ll target the keywords so someone searching for Hawaiian shirt you can directly pick which products you want to show to them. It’s got a cheap starting bid of 2p. You can start with a budget of a pound and you got some quite good match types around what kind of search and if they’re searching for longer tail queries as well. If we look at this in the context of Hawaiian shirts, search for Hawaiian shirts and these are the sponsored products ads for me. So you can see literally at the top of the page that they’re ranking all the organic traffic so they’re going to get really good visibility.

Product display ads

These are actually on the product pages. So for this, I can target specific products if I’m already selling products I can target those and re-advertise on them. I can target a category. So I can target Hawaiian shirts as a whole category. I can also target shopper interest. So people interested in like travelling or going abroad. There are extra assets I can add for the ad, I can only pick one product but then I can find the ad text around that and I can add the logo as well. Again it’s got a very cheap starting bid and it’s got a slightly higher minimum budget. And then this is how they look. So you can see there’s a nice advert at the bottom there which is a cross-sell of a belt. You could also do associated products as well.

Sponsored brand

This is the area of Amazon Ads that’s really growing. So it’s right at the top of the page. It’s very prominent. You can target by keyword, category and shopper interest again. And again you can pick a selection of products in there if you’ve got enough money, you’ve got a brand page on Amazon you can link over to their Prime page or the sub-pages of the brand. You can dictate what ad text you want, you can have your logo up there, it’s got a slightly higher starting bid because it’s right at the top. It used to be called headline search ads but they’ve changed it now. They’ve put in a lot more kind of emphasis on this. Again look in context of Hawaiian shirts it’s right up there, it’s the first thing you see on the page. Amazon loves these, so they’re actually expanding them so that’s what you traditionally see and then you have a new ad box on the left-hand side and the bottom of the page as well. Also, they’re starting to introduce this in the mobile app right at the bottom of the results.

Building traffic

So how’s Graham doing? Good? Okay. So, Graham, he’s uploaded his products to Amazon and Graham is excited. So he’s ready to get going but first, we need to talk about tactics, you don’t want to just spend all your money in one go. So there’s a couple of tactics you can use if you’re a startup. So there are external ones, if you got marketing emails already you can start pointing the traffic to Amazon, start building the traffic like the ad rank of your products. You can advertise on Google and Bing put people directly to your Amazon pages. Again social posts like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook etc, you can start selling your products exclusive on Amazon. You might have a trial to launch a product on Amazon that then goes into your website. You can also notify customers if you’ve got previous customers like an email list you can start telling them “Hey, we’re now on Amazon and you can buy our stuff, you can get Prime shipping”.

How do you advertise on Amazon?

The first thing we’d look for on a startup is probably start up sponsored product ads. So you can bid on product related keywords, so Hawaiian shirts being the key one, shirts for holiday, jazzy shirts, that kind of thing. You start with a section of your products. So you may be able to use information from your website what already sells well, that could be your key area to start with. And you start to use that to build up sales data, getting some reviews, moving up the ad rank of those products. Depending on how they do and how the ad rate grows you can start to expand, adding more products. You might rotate some as well. So if a product is doing amazing you might replace that with a different one, start building them all up.

Maintaining your strategy

So Graham, some years later, well sometime later, he’s doing well. He’s selling across Europe, he has an increase year on year sales. He’s becoming a recognised and trusted brand. He’s even got a business partner. And he’s got a brand new logo with a strapline. So he’s now an established brand, what can he do? He continues to obviously do what he was doing before with the sponsored product ad but he’s now investigating sponsored brands. He can use the keywords insight tool to see how much traffic there is for his brand and how much there is for associated keywords. It gives him a good idea of how much he can spend and how much of that volume he can get. He can protect his brand and his brand plus product terms. So for that would be like Graham’s Shirts or Graham’s Shirts Aloha brand if he’s got a particular product. He can also secure his product related searches. So it’s very much looking after what he’s been doing.

He’s got product display ads. So he can skew his product pages. So rather than having someone looking at his page and seeing a competitors product, he can show them an alternative product. He can up-sale and he can target a whole category of like Hawaiian shirts. And there’s a couple of other tactics as well depending on how ambitious he wants to be, he can be defensive or offensive.

So if he’s defensive he’s going to protect what he’s holding, making sure he keeps his market position. So for that, he’s going to protect his product and brand terms. He’s going to dominate product keywords. Stuff that specifically relates to what he sells. He’s going to bid on his own product ID’s, upselling multi-packs if he has them, premium versions, shirt, short combos that kind of thing. And then he can go on the offensive. He can actually target competitors brand and product names. He can bid on their competitor’s products. So if you’re looking at someone else’s Hawaiian shirt, you could have Graham’s Shirts right at the bottom there instead going “pick me”.

Five amazon optimisations

So now we’re going to look at five optimisations if you’ve got an Amazon account or Amazon pages that you can start looking into tomorrow.

Data comparison

So the first thing you can do is compare your website and Amazon sales data. If something that sells particularly well on your website but not doing well on Amazon, maybe you need to improve your Amazon listing or you can push this product further. You can also start thinking ahead, look ahead to like the peak season, like Christmas, what do you know sells well at Christmas? Is this prepared on Amazon and ready to go and ready for that time?


Reviews are a key metric in the ad rank factor so you want to get as many of them as possible. There are automated review collection review programmes out there so when you send out a product to someone you can wait three days and they’ll then get emailed for review. So they had a chance to get your product, use it in the real world and they’ll be able to leave some review feedback for you.

Review your keywords

Look at your keywords, what ones are providing a good ROI, are there ways you can improve them? Can you bid more? Get more traffic for those keywords. Also, look at your negative keywords, so you got search query reports on there so you can negate keywords that might not be bringing in good revenue for you.

Use the keyword insight tool

So this is a new metric from Amazon. You can actually set your bid and look at how much traffic you would get if you increased your bid for that, particularly keyword. So based on your ROI you may be able to get more traffic to that page.

Use product data

Most important one as well. Don’t just copy a website. So make sure you tailor your product data, your copy, your descriptions, your bullet points, your images, all that kind of stuff to the factors that will influence A9. Don’t just think it’s a copy and paste job.


So to round up there’s huge potential in Amazon. You could start small, make sure you get the right foundations and you can build on that with paid search to increase traffic and hopefully make it a very profitable business.

Thank you.