Implementing Ad Groups with a Purpose

Up until recently, Ad Groups were viewed as a luxury that only traditional search teams had on platforms like Google and Bing… until now! This is because of Amazon’s recent launch of Ad Groups in the vendor version of Amazon Marketing Services, an exciting new feature that needs to be dug into a little bit further to better understand what is on offer.

To start, what is an Ad Group? Simply put, it is a bucket of similar keywords normally broken out by themes. As an example, Ad Group’s “theme” can be men’s jeans and within the Ad Group there would be keywords like ‘men’s blue jeans’ ‘men jeans’ etc.

In October, Amazon released Ad Groups for Sponsored Product campaigns for Amazon Vendors (sellers have had this functionality for some time), which has the potential to be a game changer for their paid search. Compared to traditional search platforms, Amazon is still just getting out of its infancy stages and is starting to roll out capabilities that some people thought were imperative to paid search, but have been missing from Amazon’s platform. Ad Groups have been a capability that search specialists learned to live without on Amazon, and now these specialists will have to adjust and learn how to get more granular again.

Why is this a big deal?

Amazon has let campaign managers know that Ad Groups function the same as how they do on Google and other Paid Search platforms. To reiterate, this a huge change for Amazon because previously, the only way to the separate different keyword sets was to have separate campaigns which made campaign creation, budget control, and reporting messy. But now, with Ad Groups, media teams can be more creative and cleaner with how campaigns are set up.

Best practice for campaign creation looks as if it will change but, in the past, best practice was to break campaigns out by: Brand or Non-brand, Product Type, and Match Type (exact, phrase, or broad). Now, there is an additional step within campaign creation, which will ultimately result in fewer campaigns being created.

Since Amazon is a retail website, Ad Groups will help delineate different types of the same product. As an example, we can use different Ad Groups for different sizes for a product. Say there are small, medium, and large sizes of the same product, Ad Groups enable teams to create keyword buckets in the same campaigns that drive consumers to what product they are looking for. This all seems like a no brainer to implement but the risk of rebuilding in Q4 when sales are at a premium, and reestablishing ad could be high. Ads could take a few weeks to normalize CPC’s and impression share.  Additionally, this is a time where holiday CPC’s and new competitors enter the space, so is it worth the risk of losing sales to have more control?

Our recommendation

Do not implement Ad Groups just for the sake of it, first establish a risk, reward framework. Ask questions and ensure everyone is bought into the pros and cons. Questions that should be asked are:

  • Does the benefit of less campaigns and better budget control outweigh the risk of a restructure?
  • Should this be done in Q4 or during a quieter time of the year?
  • What else is Amazon planning to launch that may require a restructure?

Depending on how these questions are answered dictates whether to take advantage now or to wait until 2020. For some where there are many ASINs (Amazon standard identification numbers), or complexity of ‘child’ ASINs may mean now is the time. However, for most brands, we would recommend implementing this into an overall restructure that will look at Ad Groups, as well as other new features that Amazon is bringing to the table. Ad Groups are hugely exciting, and usually we recommend implementing exciting features to gain learnings ASAP. The fundamental structures of Amazon marketing accounts will be altered by Ad Groups and this is one new feature that, while very worthwhile, needs thinking of how and when to implement. Ad Groups will slowly be transitioned into a necessity on Amazon, but for now with the volatility of Amazon in Q4, teams should hold off on launching this exciting feature.

The original author of this article is Christopher Fecci, iProspect US.