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Amazon PPC Automatic Campaigns vs Manual: Which Is Better?

What type of Amazon campaign should you use, automatic or manual? Explore the pros and cons of both in this blog.
by

Rael Cline

Last updated:
July 8, 2022

It’s no secret that Amazon is extremely competitive. Last year, 472,000 new Sellers joined the platform, equating to 1,824 new Amazon Sellers each day for the whole of 2021.1

While there are more than enough customers to go around on Amazon — 197 million to be exact2 — it’s the Sellers with the most agile, optimized Amazon strategies that perform the best and win those customers.

Most of these Sellers harness the power of Amazon’s PPC advertising campaigns. PPC is proving so popular that Amazon netted a huge $31 billion last year from ad revenue alone.3

With the rise of Amazon FBA aggregators and increasing competition, Sellers need to ensure they’re harnessing the full potential of PPC to acquire new customers and retain existing ones.

In this environment, standing still isn’t an option. The world of Amazon ads is dynamic and fast-moving. You need to consistently reoptimize your strategy with accuracy and speed.

There are two types of campaigns to consider: automatic and manual campaigns. In this blog, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of both types of campaigns — and explore how access to the right third-party tools can help you succeed with either.

What’s the difference?

Automatic campaigns

If you’re new to the world of PPC campaigns, an automatic campaign will probably be your first port of call. With this model, you set your budget and then Amazon automatically chooses keywords for you based on factors such as your product’s category, competitor keywords, related customer keywords and the keywords that appear in your product description.

With this style of campaign, you are limited to bidding for an entire campaign or ad group, rather than sole keywords.

Manual campaigns

Once you’ve become more familiar with auto campaigns, you’ll want to reap the benefits of more granular product targeting and delve into the world of manual PPC campaigns.

This format has some major differences from automatic campaigns. Namely, you can choose which keywords you want to bid for — and with greater precision, by bidding different amounts for individual keywords you are interested in.

This gives you a competitive edge as you can be more strategic about where you put your cash flow and allocate more resources for top-performing keywords.

That said, manual PPC campaigns are best reserved for Sellers with some PPC experience, as the margin for financial loss is greater if you don’t get your keyword strategy just right.

 

Automatic 

Manual 

Keywords

Amazon automatically chooses these 

You can choose keywords 

Bidding terms 

Bid per campaign

Bid per keyword

Best for 

Users new to PPC campaigns 

Users with experience of PPC campaigns 

Budgets

Set maximum budget

Set maximum budget

At this point, you’re probably wondering which of the two strategies is better. So, let’s dive into the pros and cons of each.

Automatic PPC Campaigns

The pros

Automatic PPC campaigns are an excellent tool for Sellers familiarising themselves with Amazon’s PPC model. While manual campaigns involve a lot of testing, and trial and error, automatic PPC campaigns are extremely easy to set up.

Instead of spending a lot of time on in-depth research, as with manual campaigns, Amazon does keyword research and automatic targeting for you, making this strategy a relatively light lift.

Another benefit is that these campaigns enable you to identify keyword phrases that you may have otherwise missed or assumed your customers wouldn’t use.

The cons

The ease of automatic PPC campaigns also results in one of its biggest drawbacks: a lack of control. Unlike in a manual campaign structure, you have no choice over what keywords Amazon targets for you.

Because of this, you may find yourself in scenarios where your automatic campaign has bid on irrelevant or even negative terms, which can eat into your profit and raise your ACoS.

Lastly, the automated nature of these campaigns makes it almost impossible to be strategic, which hinders you from considering your advert strategy within the context of bigger long-term goals like increasing your customer lifetime value (CLV).

Suggested reading: For more information on CLV, how it can be used and how it can be calculated, check out our blog — Can CLV Calculation Ever Be Accurate?

In summary, while automatic campaigns are easy to use, their untargeted approach can raise your ACoS and put profit at risk.

Running a successful automatic PPC campaign

This isn’t to say, though, that automatic PPC campaigns don’t have their place within a successful Seller strategy. They do, but you need to have clear intentions and goals. One of the main uses for automatic campaigns is to research converting keywords that you might not have thought of, which you can then harvest and use in manual campaigns.

This is where analytics tools, specifically designed for Amazon data, become crucial. Manually wading through the data of your automatic campaign is time-consuming and error prone. You need cutting-edge analytics capabilities that draws this data together for you, giving you the edge in PPC campaign management.

Data analysis tools that draw together information helps you uncover invaluable insights from your campaign data gives you deep visibility into your ACoS and RoAS so you can make informed, data-led decisions for your business.

Armed with this information, you can put Nozzle’s Ad Management tool to work. Ad Management runs automatic campaigns for you, enabling you to meet your target ACoS, build relationships with target customers and give you a competitive edge.

Fundamentally, you can harness all the benefits of automated PPC campaigns, without the traditional drawbacks.

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Manual PPC Campaigns

The pros

One of the greatest advantages of manual PPC campaigns is gaining control and precision over the keywords you select. For example, you can use broad and phrase match keywords to reach a broader range of customers with your product ad or use exact keywords for more specific, targeted customer searches.

For more information on the types of ad targeting, read our Ultimate Seller Guide to Amazon Advertising.

This tends to result in a lower ACoS. Because you choose keywords and bid rates manually, you can target high-converting keywords and pause low-performing keywords in real-time, meaning you waste less ad spend on keywords that don’t perform.

If you’re running an amazon sponsored brands campaign, for example (which its higher CPC than sponsored product ads) you can help reduce wasted PPC spend by targeting keywords you know are relevant to potential customers.

The cons

It’s clear that manual campaigns have a lot of potential. However, many Sellers struggle to achieve consistent RoAS and understand their CLV.

This is because it can be tricky to choose your target keywords if you don’t have the tools to mine Amazon for the right data. Without proper targeting, you run the risk of eroding your profit margins due to a higher ACoS and lower RoAS.

As well as this, setting up these campaigns is intensively time-consuming and requires consistent effort. You’ll need to stay constantly informed of keyword trends and targeting groups — and have the capacity to change keywords quickly to run a well-optimized campaign.

So, while manual PPC campaigns certainly hold a lot of promise, the amount of time and effort required often means this approach falls short.

Running a successful manual PPC campaign

But there are solutions. Analytics and insight tools collate disparate Amazon data in one place and then analyse that data to help Sellers draw valuable insight and improve their selling strategies.

Nozzle’s Analytics tool, alongside Ad Management, does this for you. Analytics provides even greater insight with manual campaigns, providing you insight on your ACoS and CLV metrics, helping you run more targeted and aggressive PPC campaigns, outspending competitors and gaining market share — while remaining profitable.

By running an automatic campaign with Nozzle’s Ad Management tool, you can run an improved manual campaign alongside it. By identifying and using tailored and optimised keywords uncovered via an automatic campaign, helped by Analytics and Ad Management, you use this information in any manual campaign you choose to run.

In other words, you can get the targeting of a manual campaign with the ease of an automatic.

Analytics are key to powering both

Ultimately, whether running an automatic or manual campaign, you need access to data. Amazon doesn’t make this easy to find, but Nozzle does. Third-party analytics are crucial to maximising your ACoS, understanding CLV and beating the competition.

Armed with Nozzle’s tools, you can benefit from the plus points of both automatic and manual campaigns without the drawbacks.

With the in-depth audit tool, you can supercharge automatic campaigns by gaining a real-time picture of how your campaigns are performing and where there is wasted spend, and then turn these insights into actions to improve your strategy at both tactical and strategic levels.

For manual campaigns, our Audit and Ad Management tools take the guesswork out of optimising keywords by tapping into Amazon’s datasets, so you can reach the right audiences at the right time.

To see how a data-optimised, analytics-led PPC campaign can benefit your business, sign up for a 14-day free trial today.

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1 Amazon Tops Six Million Third-Party Sellers - Marketplace Pulse

2 US retail websites by visitors | Statista

3 Everything to know about Amazon's ad business, which is $31 billion and growing