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Offense or Defense: The Secrets to Bidding on Brand Terms on Amazon Advertising

Mike Farrell

Online advertising is among the latest industries Amazon plans to disrupt. Although it is relatively new to the digital advertising world compared to Google and Facebook, the e-commerce giant is already making its presence felt. Advertising has become one of Amazon’s fastest-growing businesses. In 2018, Amazon advertising revenue experienced triple-digit growth each quarter, reaching approximately $3 billion.

Behind this rapid growth is Amazon Advertising’s unique appeal to retail marketers. For instance, you can manually target keywords and automatically match products with related search queries. Amazon also allows and encourages marketers to target competitor brand terms in their campaigns (unlike Google, for example). That allows retailers on Amazon to effectively steal their competitors’ traffic, or potentially be subject to the same tactic.

The ability to target competitor terms has led to the development of unique strategies, which I describe as “playing offense” and “playing defense.” Both strategies require a willingness to increase spend on the channel, but the payoff can mean dominating Amazon search results or product pages and significantly improving sales.

Play Offense to Capture Competitor Traffic

When it comes to searching for ways to cut into a competitor’s market share, bidding on competitor trademarks and brand names are powerful tools. Appearing alongside a competitor’s product provides another option for the shopper and an opportunity to win over an otherwise loyal customer from the competition.

There are no restrictions or quality score implications for using this tactic (another difference between Google and Amazon). And, conversion rates might be lower given the customer has indicated his or her intent with a brand or trademark search term.

Consider these tactics to play offense with Amazon ads. The brands mentioned are purely for explanatory purposes.

  • When running manual campaigns, you can build out and target brand keywords to show up on the search results page instead of your competitor.

EXAMPLE: Bosch Tools could bid on terms related to Dewalt (“dewalt drill,” “dewalt circular saw”) to show its product alongside Dewalt products when consumers are making a purchase decision.

  • Released in 2019, you can now use product targeting in the manual campaign to pick and choose what products you want to be shown alongside.

EXAMPLE: Beats may want to position its Studio3 wireless headphones alongside Bose’s noise cancelling 700 headphones. Beats can select these ASINs when setting the targeting in its ad campaigns.