In this post, I’m going to discuss the fundamentals of Amazon PPC, specifically the basic types of campaigns that you should be running both not just when you launch a product, but really at all times, in order to maintain traffic to your listings (and ultimately generate sales). In future posts, I’ll get into the weeds more and break down this topic in greater detail, as it tends to be pretty technical. 

Here is what you should know if you’re new to Amazon or not running PPC campaigns: Every successful seller that we work with has effective and efficient PPC campaigns running in some variation at all times. It’s almost impossible to succeed using Amazon PPC without understanding the basics and starting off in the right direction. 

Manual Keyword Targeting Campaigns:

In manual campaigns, you select the target that you want your ad to show up for. There are three types of manual keyword campaigns: exact match, phrase match, broad match. Let’s take the keyword “bed sheets” as an example to highlight how these different campaigns work. 

In an exact match campaign, your ad is only going to appear to customers who search for “bed sheets”.  The ad targets are very precise, which means that you’re going to want to know with some degree of accuracy that this is the keyword that you want to target. The bids will also likely be higher than other types of targets. Before creating exact match campaigns, you’ll want to know that the specific keywords targeted perform well (more on how to determine performance in future posts). 

In phrase match campaigns, your ads will be shown to customers who search for any phrase containing “bed sheets”, such as “queen bed sheets” and “bed sheets king”. You’ll notice that as long as the phrase “bed sheets” shows up in that exact order in a customer search, the search term will be considered relevant for your campaign. Phrase match campaigns are less precise than exact match campaigns and therefore have broader reach. These campaigns should be set up in the beginning to help identify exact match keywords. 

Out of the three types of manual keyword campaigns, broad match is going to be the most important one in the beginning because it has the widest reach. Keeping in mind that new PPC campaigns are essentially data mining tools, it’s critical that you collect as much data as possible, and broad match campaigns are typically the best way to accomplish this goal. Broad match campaigns will show you which keywords have potential in both phrase match and exact match campaigns. Using our example, the customer search terms “queen size bed mattress sheets” and “king size sheets for bed”, would be considered possible targets for your ads because they have the words “bed” and “sheets” somewhere in there. Due to their tendency to reach a wide array of customer searches, you’ll want to set your bids lower than you would for exact and phrase match campaigns. 

In the beginning of a product listing’s life (i.e at launch), we typically create broad and phrase campaigns (and wait to create exact match campaigns). As we sift through the data and optimize the campaigns (also more on this topic in future posts), we weed out the good and bad keyword targets.

Manual Product Targeting Campaigns:

Product targeting campaigns are most similar to exact match keyword campaigns, except that they target competitor products instead of keywords. Your ad will show up either in the search results or, even better, on a competitor’s product detail page. The idea is that you let your competitors bid on the keywords and pay for the initial click (which can be more expensive than clicks for product targets), and you swoop in and steal the sale. 

It’s almost impossible in the beginning to figure out which product targets are going to be successful. You can guess, but guessing on Amazon is never a good idea and can lead to lots of wasted money.  A much better tactic is to create auto campaigns and let them identify profitable product targets.

Auto Campaigns:

Out of all the campaigns, automatic targeting campaigns are the most important ones to run in the beginning because they serve a number of important functions (although we usually recommend running broad and phrase match manual campaigns at the same time as well). Automatic campaigns target broad match keywords and product targets. Both of these types of targets are chosen by Amazon, meaning you only have control over the bid (bidding is another important topic that I will discuss in greater detail later on). 

Analyzing PPC data from automatic campaigns will tell you if Amazon understands what product you’re selling (i.e. is your listing is structured such that you use keywords that are relative to your product?). For example, if you’re selling a bed sheet, but the PPC targets are primarily related to mattresses, you might need to reconfigure the way that you’ve structured your listing; if Amazon does not understand what product you’re selling, you will continue to have to weed out irrelevant targets, you might be missing out on relevant targets, and chances are you will confuse customers as well. 

In addition to helping you understand if your listing is relevant to your product, automatic campaigns are so valuable because over time, they tend to identify long term profitable keywords and product targets, especially ones that you might not have considered or come across while performing keyword research.  As I will discuss in another post, we will keep a list of these promising targets and move them into their own separate manual campaigns, including broad, phrase, and exact match and product targeting campaigns. 


As I explained in a previous post, we typically recommend setting a budget of $50 per day per product in the beginning. If you’re unsure whether advertising on Amazon is for you, remember that in order to achieve long-lasting meaningful success on Amazon, you need to have a healthy mix of paid and organic sales to reach your true sales potential. If you’re not advertising on Amazon, you are letting your competitors profit at your expense, and you are probably not coming close to making as much money as you could on Amazon.