Season 1, Episode 26
Advertising Best Practices for Growing Brands
Chris: Hey everybody. This is Chris McCabe. I’m here with Andrew Waber of Teikametrics.
Andrew: Thank you!
Chris: For joining us.
Andrew: Great to be here.
Chris: Thanks for working on Seller Velocity with us this year. Glad to have you as co-hosts and co-sponsors and co everything, right?
Andrew: Yeah. I think this is going to be an awesome event and I’m super excited for it.
Chris: Yeah, we are too. Andrew has a lot of experience with ads, of course. We’re going to be covering a lot of ground. He’s director of insights is his title at Teikametrics. So I’m going to give you a second to introduce yourself, but also explain what that means. To you and to them.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, definitely a startupy title. I’ll be the first to admit that, but yeah, I mean, my experience has really coming into a Teika was kind of straddling the line between really content and data science. So, actually analyzing data that we’re drawing within our own network and actually using that to help inform kind of the larger seller community. And I’ve been doing that at, at prior roles at, at Salsify and Nanigans and other places. So taking that Teikametrics and, and alongside that, it’s really leading the content team that we have at Teika to really just put our content that educates sellers on what’s actually happening and really what drives the results beyond, what you might see just through your own tools, etcetera, kind of broadening the scope a little bit. That’s kinda where that comes from.
Chris: Educational content. We’re big fans of that and we’re on the cusp of Q4. Right. What other trends or tips would you like if you had to think of a top two, would you throw at people just to think about if they’re not a hundred percent married to implementing it?
Andrew: I think the biggest thing is getting your campaign structure in order ,now, and that means if, we see a lot of sellers, this is when, when they’re coming on board with us. That they’ll start off and there’ll be some great growth. And then they just hit this plateau. And a lot of it is related to this campaign structure where they’re running a lot of automatic campaigns. And they’re not moving terms from those automatic campaigns into subsequent manual campaigns to bid on the more effectively. And , so, for those of you that, that may be a little bit newer to this, right? Your automatic campaign, that’s essentially Amazon using , kind of a scraping of your listing and kind of other kind of similar products to say, okay, we’re going to place your ad on terms that, that we feel are relevant and you get a report back saying, Hey, here, here’s how it did. It’s incumbent on you. I think it’s like, it’s easy to say, oh, well this is working great. I should like, just let it go. It’s like, no, that’s actually the time when it’s working great is when you want to take that change attack, you want to say what we typically recommend is at the bare minimum, kind of a three to one structure. You got one automatic campaign that’s for every single product. You got one automatic campaign running and you’re looking at that. And as you see conversion volume you don’t want a specific term really go up, especially in when it goes alongside conversion rate. That means that it’s like, oh, not only people are seeing this at a high volume, but clicking on your ad and they’re converting. Now, that’s when you say, okay, I want to pull that out of the automatic campaign. And then I want three companion campaigns, manual campaigns associated with that automatic, where I’ve got branded keywords, right. Where they’re searching for my brand or my product name. Competitor keywords and category keywords. Now, each of those, right? You want those split up. So you can just bid more granularly because it’s like write a branded key terms that I talked about before, you want to be a little bit, you still obviously want to defend your turf.
Chris: Right? Right. Not lose ground.
Andrew: You don’t want to lose ground, but what you don’t want to do is your essentially a cannibalizing yourself from getting on again, actually, you didn’t have to pay for it. Right. Talking about the campaign structure, right. So you’re putting things. Okay. I’ve got, I found this good competitor term that actually converting well on an end scale. Okay. Now I’m going to put that in the competitor group, move aggressively on that more granularly. Right. I can watch that performance. And we did research on this, our data science team, and it is overwhelming. You take the same term from an automatic campaign and you put it into manual campaign. You get more conversions and it’s more efficient. Like that’s just, it’s the way it works. So it’s really incumbent on you to do this. Like your software cost. So we can kind of automate that. It’s like, Hey, once it hits this number of conversions or this conversion rate, you can move it over. But you can do this yourself. It’s something that will improve your performance if you kind of take that tactic. And I’d say, going back to the branded point, you want to defend your turf. Defend your turf intelligently. Because it’s so simple to say, oh, well, I’ve got.
Chris: Actively versus passively right? Assuming that you’ve got that locked down. And that you don’t have to do anything to defend it.
Andrew: Well, and the products that you’re actually going to put on this top ad placements. I think, it’s easy for you to be like, well, I’m gonna put my best seller up there because I know that’s gonna, that’s gonna beat it out. If it’s a best seller, if someone searches for your brand term, they’re most likely going to be buying that product.
Chris: Right. Right. That’s the cannibalizing, right?
Andrew: Think about putting your, whether it’s newer products, so you can drive that sales volume on like loyal customers that are already searching your brand name, or higher margin products like, okay, well, our, our base model typically is our most popular. Let’s put like our highest end model first with the sponsored products, responsive brand placement, and try to get conversions there. That’s just, it’s going to be best practice because then you won’t cannibalize. If someone’s going to come and buy the most popular product, like that’s the one you might advertise that best selling product on a category term or a competitor term, but on your own term, like think about you have loyal customers coming. Whether it’s companion products, higher margin and new products. Those are the ones you want to drive volume to. And you see so many product pages where or search pages rather, right where it’s like on a branded term. And you see this brand is just like, they advertise that the same product, like four times, like they’ve got it. One is the sponsored brands. So this is something that like you, as a seller can execute on pretty quickly. And you’re going to be far ahead of a lot of sellers. These are even like pretty big names that do these kinds of tactics. Cause it’s like, well, the ACOS looks great. Like it’s efficient. Look they’re their sales are coming in, but they don’t look at that other side of it, which is what sales are you cannibalizing. And then how are you really driving forward from these newer products?
Chris: And once one search term performs well, you’re finding other synonymous terms to use, right? So you can kind of cover what anyone could potentially search for. Do you think people are missing that step or they’re not fully researching exactly how many terms they could use and they’re just comfortable with, we’re doing well with this term and this term, and that’s good enough. So, they kind of stop before they could complete the thought.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s obviously constant maintenance. It becomes a theme, right? When you you’re a good seller on Amazon, you’re changing quickly and it can become I think super simple to say, okay, well these terms are doing well. Let’s keep with these. You’re growing them. You’re being a little more conservative. Maybe in the early stage, you want to be conservative, especially as you grow, it’s about being a little bit more aggressive in terms of, okay, well, what terms are driving any kind of volume and being on top of that, because it’s like you’re looking at the search at these reports that are coming in. You need to be on top of that. And really you can’t just like, think about, oh, well, I’m going to change that once a month. It requires that constant maintenance, because when you’ve got Amazon as large as it is, it means you will have keyword trends that appear and disappear quickly. And this goes for you and your competitors. And if you get on quickly. This search term is like, I’m seeing this, I’ve seen it in this automatic campaign. And now it’s like, it’s double, triple conversions. It’s like, if you can jump on that early, you’re going to take advantage of that before your competitors. And that’s really like, the name of the game is, is like, can you find these trends and capitalize before the other folks in your competitive set really notice. It was interesting during the holidays in particular, during really any high volume event, the volatility of popular keywords on Amazon goes up. There’s more volatility. And so that’s when it’s on you as a seller is like, as you’re entering that time, that’s to really buckle down and know, okay. Now I have to really kind of keep track of this stuff and be willing to change.
Chris: Be versatile. Right? You can’t just be content with enough.
Andrew: Yeah. Or like look at, oh, this did roll last holiday season, that can be super tempting. And like, yes, of course you want to like still advertise on those, but like just really open your mind up to the fact that it’s like consumer base as a whole has changed and it will continue to change. But obviously, especially for the last two months, you have other people who typically were not maybe typical Amazon shoppers, or very infrequent Amazon shoppers are shopping more frequently. You have your folks that were , not buying certain categories of products and Amazon are buying those categories of products. So they searched differently.
Chris: It’s hard to think of how many new shoppers are there in Amazon, but there are. Because of what happened last year, , what’s still happening. More people are buying stuff online. Some of them aren’t searching the way their friends are. Right. Or their kids are or whatever. So, I mean, there is a lot of opportunity there. I would imagine for people that weren’t looking at your brand, looking at those types of products before.
Andrew: Yeah. And so like, obviously that’s outside of the keyword reports. If you have access to Amazon brand analytics, via Seller Central, keep a keen eye on that. I mean, this is Amazon unveiling, really like, Hey, what were the top search terms yesterday, last week, last month. And , the keyword search report should probably be your number one, but this is a great, that’s a great supplement to say like, okay, let me look at the broader universe. Are there other things I’m missing that, and you can look at this again by like even department, etcetera. So I encourage you all to look at that if you haven’t already, I mean, that’s something that can be a nice tool in toolbox in terms of just like, okay, let’s take a step back for a minute. Let me see what terms are really rising up the ranks. Weren’t maybe in the top a hundred thousand.
Chris: Which ones have plateaued like you said.
Andrew: Plateaued or gone down. Yeah. So you see that all the time, and again, particularly in, higher volume months as it were. And , I know we have in terms of like sellers, I think thinking about the next couple months, obviously like the conference kind of intersects with this. We’re obviously getting right back to school now. The whole seasonal aspect of how I’m sure a lot of you sellers may have, like outside of just the core holiday season, another season where it’s for your specific category of products, it’s like, this is go time. Yeah. So if it’s like, you’re selling notebooks, like, Hey, this is probably like your peak time. But right, selling holiday products, obviously it’s different. That’s, , What, what we’ve been doing recently at Teika is being very, like, it’s a very situation aware bidding. Where it’s, what you’re looking for is it’s about keeping up with the Joneses kind of a thing. Where it’s, you can see a lot of these seasonal events before they happen, because you’re seeing those bids go up. And it’s, I think, you as a seller have to be really cognizant of this because you could have a term that say like, Hey, for my season, this is, this is the term I want to win. And you could bid very, very high on it intentionally. Cause you say, I want to win this every time. And initially the cost of that could be great. Cause you’re paying second price auction. So it’s like, I’m paying one set above and it’s like, okay, I’m bidding $10, but I’m only paying like $2 and 25 cents. Those costs can go astronomical very quickly, even if you’re taking that highest bid, because then you have that upward pressure at the bottom. And that, especially during kind of these micro seasonal events, depending on what you sell in can be really extreme. And something our software does, but again, we’re not the only game in town, but it’s about being willing to say, like, when those prices get too high, I need to pull back and that’s okay. Because you don’t want to make sales that where it’s like, okay, now I’m making sales and maybe I’m losing money. Or it’s like, well, outside of the margin I’m looking for. Like, you need to have that ability to pull back or it’s bad. And a lot of sellers run into that where it can be like, okay, I’ve set this bid and you don’t look at it for maybe a day or two. Which if it’s a normal traffic season, maybe that’s fine. But during these really high peaks like that cost can go up really, really quickly.
Chris: Well, there must be a risk associated with experimentation. Like you have to experiment to an extent that’s part of the game. But what’s too much experimentation and what’s the wrong time of year to experiment? Let’s just take mid August. Is this a good time? Is this fertile ground to experiment for Q4 or do you kind of have to have your game and your strategy all set before you even get to this point?
Andrew: Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. Like when it comes to like shipping and fulfillment, you need that like now, you need that yesterday. When it comes to like advertising or like what promotions move the needle, whether it’s a coupon, whether it’s a percentage off, etcetera. Like this maybe is a good time for experimentation in terms of like, On a keyword we know a convert honor that’s been very consistent. It’s like, okay, how do these types of changes impact that? And using that as instructive. Right. Okay. I’m going to run this over a given period of time. Let’s see what that does. And then maybe I can take that and blow it out in Q4. So, this can be, and again, it’s going to depend on your vertical, depends on everything, but this can be a good time. If you’re more of like a traditional, like, maybe you’re an electronics brand. And you’re like, I know Q4’s my, top, top, top. This is a good time to say, okay, maybe I’m going to try, if you haven’t tried sponsored brands, like trying sponsored brands, seeing how that works. Maybe trying DSP or sponsored display to see how you can drive those people down the funnel. This is a good time. You got to straddle that line, but this is a good time to do so. So you can find out what kind of, what works and what doesn’t, because yeah, you don’t want to be in Q4. You’re trying to experiment. But the prices can go crazy.
Chris: You’re rolling the dice at the wrong time. I mean, that’s kind of what I was driving at, but maybe to clarify a little bit more in terms of, you’re trying to anticipate. I want to be able to create a sales spike at the right time in Q4. So I’m going to toy with things now to see if I can create a mini spike now, so I can have that many more multiples down the road. I don’t know if people are thinking that way, or if they’re doing trial and error throughout the year. So maybe they know that before they get to Q4 or our Q4 is different from each other. That’s my question, but this is just the way I’m thinking of it.
Andrew: Q4’s are definitely different. I mean, we saw this and this is gonna be the case this year.
Chris: Right. We already know this Q4 is going to be different and last Q4, it was different. So this Q4, do you think be similar to last Q4? Do we even know?
Andrew: I mean, right. No, one’s got the crystal ball. I’d say it’s absolutely will be different. And this is why it’s like more important than ever kind of monitor and change. But we saw this last Q4, when you looked at just like straight up percentage, average CPC change. So like how much did the price of ads go up? Those were all over the place. Where sometimes it was much more than 2019, some cases it was much less, those increases. Now that the volume changes like we’re on a percentage basis, relatively similar. There was a big volume increase, but it was like on the same order of magnitude is what you saw before. Where you saw the big difference was CPCs. And the reason was, was because in some cases you had a huge number of advertisers, huge number of sellers and advertising. And those were like spiking prices dramatically. In others you had supply issues, which hampered the ability for a lot of sellers to advertise. Cause if it’s like I’m a sports supplier and like normally yeah, Q4 is a huge season, but like, I can only supply 50% of my products. Like by natural, I’m going to be less aggressive. I’m not advertising on as many terms. So you saw like certain categories they still, there was a CPC increase, but it was much less than what you saw in the prior year. But in some cases you have other issues, other supply issues, you have other fulfillment issues that maybe weren’t weren’t in the case in other years. So, just be aware that yes, this Q4 will be unlike last year. It will probably be unlike 2019. The whole thing is that we’re talking about how new consumers are coming to Amazon or people are searching for different stuff. Old habits die hard. We’ve now been in this world for 18 months. These are old habits. And those people are not, they’re maybe going back to more in store retailing that they were doing, or they’re going back to other things, but their behaviors permanently changed. And that has knock on effects, especially during these high traffic seasons where you already know under normal circumstances and people that didn’t search on Amazon in 2018, 2019, they’d be like, well, I’m gonna, I got to get something. So I’m going to go on Amazon. Now you have those people doing that, but now they’re more seasoned. They maybe have a better idea of
Chris: Searches won’t be as wild. They won’t be kind of like, what am I looking at? Like, not even understanding that they’re looking at a sponsored. You know what I mean? I just imagine that it’s different just because they’ve been doing it, like you said for 18 months.
Andrew: Yeah. And I’d say like another thing that sellers should be looking to do now. I mean, just like use this opportunity to beef up your product pages as much as possible. When I was at Salsify we did this study and we looked at this vertical by vertical and price point by price point. And we said, okay, let’s look at the top 10% of sales rank pages and the bottom 10% of sales rank pages at this price point in this vertical. And across every single price point and vertical, it was the more images were associated with better selling product pages, less images were associated with poor selling product pages. And that went down to number of bullets. There tended to be more bullets, there tended to be longer descriptions. There was a much more likelihood that they had A plus content below the fold, like all this stuff. Think about, even if you have great performance now, like how can you make it better? That’s a big way to do it is you give consumers the opportunity that if they’re comparison shopping, you give them that many more reasons to buy from you because it’s like, oh wow, that looks really good. Oh, I can look at the product this way. I can see this angle of it. You’re giving me maybe a more heartfelt story about like the brand mission, if it’s that type of thing.
Chris: Much more sophisticated now than it was even two years ago. Yeah.
Andrew: And you’d be surprised. I mean, you see products that are like by large brands where you felt like, well, they would definitely have their act together and they really don’t. You look at their product pages and they’re kind of relying on the fact that.
Chris: I would not be surprised by that because I’ve seen their lists. Sometimes their listings are violating the style guide and they’re just getting like erased or suspended. Well, why? Well, the stuff you’ve been doing for two or three years, Amazon finally caught up to not wanting that. It’s a violation, it’s a listing violation. They take the listing down. You’re like, wow. Like I thought these guys, they’ve got so many resources. Okay. Now we’re well versed in that. But, agility, flexibility, versatility, all these words. You’re going to be hearing it. That’s on September 23rd here in Boston at the Seller Velocity Conference, but you’re going to be hearing it from other people too, because in all kinds of content. Because this will make or break listings brands, right?
Andrew: Yeah. You can rely on a good brand for only so long in this environment before your, if you’re just slow to react, that’s going to bite you. It doesn’t matter like who you are. And we see alternatively brands that like unknown to top sellers and that the common element between all those is that it was just a laser focus on, we are going to where we’re seeing performance and we’re going to be laser focused on continually doing that and never being like it’s good enough. Or, Hey, that’s performance. We’re looking for it. That’s the common element.
Chris: Right. Thanks everyone for joining us. Andy, thanks for being here in Cambridge today. We’re looking forward to seeing you on September 23rd. So thanks for joining us today. And we’ll talk to you soon.
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