Shopping holidays are the major bowl games of retail. In a manner of hours, brands realize sales volumes that rival previous weeks to months of the retail calendar. Standing out on these prominent days is critical, but like any championship team would tell you, the time spent preparing in the offseason - when the crowds aren’t assembled and the stadium lights aren’t as bright - is vital to success when the greatest opportunities arise.

The always on strategy covers the weeks and months of the offseason leading up to these peak shopping days.

What does always on mean for Amazon Advertising?

Always on means having a consistent presence for your brand on Amazon.

The platform now reserves most of the space above the fold on the first search results page for paid placements. So if you’re not getting your products into those placements, you’re relying on time-pressed shoppers to go through the effort of scrolling down, and potentially through pages, until they see your product(s). Started to zone out a little in that last sentence? Our point exactly.

Why always on?

  • Be top of mind. Regardless of whether a shopper purchases one of your products, awareness is unavoidable when they see your ads in one of those top placements. This lets them know, or for people familiar with your brand, reinforces your brand as having relevant products. Since we’re used to seeing relevant results at the top of a page, it also signals your product’s relevance to their needs.

  • Seasonality. If your products aren’t seasonal, why are your ads? Having your Amazon Advertising campaigns live a few months a year will only help boost detail page views and sales of your product during that finite period of time, which does not reflect shoppers’ needs.

  • Build relevancy. Unlike Google, which bases which ads are shown based on a composite score, Amazon has a series of relevancy gates that your ASINs must get through to be considered for a top of feed spot. It’s only after your ASINs make it through these gates that Amazon determines which ASINs are shown and calculates the actual CPC. For this calculation, Amazon uses estimated click through rate (eCTR), a 2 week forward looking click through rate (CTR) estimate based on a variety of factors. Since eCTRs are based on your historical relevancy, running campaigns prior to big shopping holidays ensures that you’ve honed and increased your relevancy.

    Pro tip: Use Downstream to optimize your campaigns to build your eCTR for more efficient ads. Want to see how it works? Schedule a tour today.

  • Grow market share. In comparison to brick and mortar stores, the Amazon online shelf has practically infinite space. However, with more products comes limits on product visibility. Instead of walking into your local store to find products already curated for you, you’re greeted with pages upon pages of search results. When’s the last time you made it past page 2 on a search result? Participating in search advertising is what ensures that you continue to show up where people look first.

    For well-established brands, being at the top of search results means protecting their market share and going after undecided shoppers. For emerging brands, this is an opportunity to introduce their brand and product(s) to shoppers. Instead of spending resources competing for the limited shelf space of brick and mortar, emerging brands can spend their resources getting directly in front of relevant shoppers.

Implications of not taking an always on approach

With Amazon’s advertising revenue growing over 132% year-over-year to $2B in just Q1of 2018*, there is more competition than ever on Amazon. Choosing to not participate in search advertising gives your competitors the opportunity to get in front of increasingly brand agnostic shoppers and poach sales.

When you run campaigns, you not only put shoppers’ attention on your products instead of your competitors, you put upward pressure on the competition for the ad space. When you opt to not run campaigns, their ads get cheaper and their budgets go further, emboldening them to spend more. You’ll be left behind while they get in front of more consumers and build relevance.

For your Amazon ad campaigns, it means you’ll spend more and your products shown less when you do run campaigns due to a lack of historical performance. Ultimately, it means less sales and giving up share of voice on Amazon.

Tips for always on

  • Goal setting. Identify and prioritize the goals that your brand wants to achieve through increased visibility on Amazon. In addition to listing them in order of importance, segment your budget so it reflects the weight of the priority.

  • Keywords to consider. We recommend having a combination of the following keyword types be part of your brand’s always on strategy: Your brand’s branded terms, non-branded category terms, and key competitor terms.

  • Sponsored Brands (formerly Headline Search Ads) messaging. In addition to promoting individual brands, leverage your entire catalog’s household penetration and encourage basket building by promoting products across your entire portfolio. If you’re a CPG brand and household penetration for your toothbrush brand is 5%, but across your entire Oral Care line your penetration is 25%, leveraging the entire portfolio by promoting brushes, paste, floss, and rinse greatly increases the likelihood that A) someone is a user of your advertised brands, B) is in market for the promoted products, and C) the customer builds a bigger basket.

  • Strategy. If your company has products from multiple brands sold on Amazon, you should have at least one Sponsored Brands campaign per brand live at all times throughout the year and one Sponsored Products ad for each ASIN you are actively selling on Amazon. This does not necessarily mean you have to have the same campaign with the same keywords live all year. Instead, your brand can test a set of keywords and optimize as you see fit. Additionally, there is a significant volume of Sponsored Products inventory on the Product Detail Pages shovelers at very efficient CPCs, so scheduling low bid auto-campaigns for each ASIN is an excellent way to grab cheap inventory as well as long-tail keywords.

    • 1 Sponsored Brands campaign per brand
    • 1 Sponsored Products campaign per ASIN

Pro tip: Downstream tracks your campaign performance so you don’t have to. Use Downstream to test and hone your campaigns during the offseason so you know where you lean in and win big during the shopping holidays. Want to know more? Sign up for a demo.

*Source: Amazon Q1 2018 Financial Results

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