“Pilothouse is deeply integrated into every single part of our process, from idea conception to channel strategy and execution, making them an invaluable partner.”
“Once we brought on Pilothouse, we got our returns in the 100K+ a month range on Amazon. They took us from a 3-4 ROAS to close to a 10 ROAS.“
“I usually like to rebalance agency relationships every 12–18 months. There's none of that. Two years in, and we're not looking at that at all. We definitely hired the right people.”
The Pilothouse approach to Amazon ads focuses on two core objectives: Visibility and control.
Optimized Campaign Structure
Learn the campaign structure Pilothouse uses to profitably scale brands on Amazon.
Strategic Keyword Segmentation
Discover the power of segmentation in building a successful campaign suite.
Take a look at what the Pilothouse Amazon team has been up to!
Effective Naming Conventions
Uncover the power of well-structured campaign names for streamlined management and performance evaluation.
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This comprehensive whitepaper aims to present the Pilothouse Approach to Amazon Advertising, offering insights into the rationale behind our methodology, the meticulously designed campaign structure that has consistently generated millions in monthly revenue, and invaluable implementation tips for maximum effectiveness.
The Pilothouse approach to Amazon ads is rooted in two fundamental goals: Visibility and Control. By implementing an organized campaign structure that provides granular visibility into the sources of sales, marketers can swiftly identify successful strategies. However, visibility alone is insufficient without the control to implement changes that enhance campaign performance.
A well-organized campaign suite should empower marketers to quickly assess performance, make data-informed decisions, and take decisive actions. Our campaign organization is meticulously detailed to the extent that even those unfamiliar with Amazon advertising can grasp the dynamics of the ad account.
To achieve this level of efficiency, the following components are essential:
- Smart and Informed Keyword Segmentation
- Consistent Naming Conventions
- Organized Campaign Structure
Strategic Keyword Segmentation
Segmentation is an initial crucial step in constructing a powerful campaign suite. The primary purpose of segmentation is to categorize keywords based on their value to your brand and their performance to monitor significance.
For instance, branded terms, while important for defensive purposes, have to be considered a low value sale. They are worth spending on and should produce a high return on investment, but, they do not drive substantial brand growth.
In contrast, generic terms (non-branded or non-competitor terms) that attract new customers possess higher value. Even more valuable are competitor terms. Converting a customer actively searching for a competitor's product to your brand is often worth the investment, even if it means accepting a temporary loss, particularly for products with a high lifetime value (LTV).
results, it is advisable to set low bids and apply high product page multipliers.
Other segments will vary depending on the industry. For example, if we consider a Vegan Sulfate-Free Volumizing Conditioner, some segments might include:
- Vegan Keywords
- Sulfate-Free Keywords
- Volumizing Keywords
Within each segment, we sort keywords by volume. The following screenshot illustrates our sample keyword research tab for a sports drink, providing a clearer example:
Effective Naming Conventions
Well-structured campaign names significantly streamline management and offer an immediate overview of top-performing segments. As mentioned earlier, visibility plays a pivotal role in effective campaign management. Practical application of consistent naming conventions enables quick searches, such as locating all Sponsored Brand Video campaigns by searching for "SBV," or identifying campaigns targeting vegan keywords by searching for "Vegan."
Our standard naming convention is as follows:
**Note: PH denotes "Pilothouse." For instance, a high-volume exact-match sponsored product campaign targeting vegan keywords would be named as follows:
For instance, if we perform a quick search of 'branded,' we can see how all the branded campaigns in this suite are displayed, providing us with a concise overview of their performance:
By taking a quick look, you can assess the performance of a segment and make informed decisions to address any underperforming areas or capitalize on successful ones. In addition to employing effective naming conventions, we also utilize Portfolios as an additional layer of segmentation. This proves particularly beneficial for competitor campaigns, where you can create a Competitor Portfolio and incorporate the actual competitor brand names in your campaign names. This approach allows you to have a comprehensive overview of all campaigns or easily search for performance against a specific competitor.
within the Amazon Ad Console.
Organized Campaign Structure
The success of an advertising campaign is largely dependent on a well-structured campaign suite. A meticulously organized campaign structure allows advertisers to monitor performance, make data-driven decisions, and implement changes seamlessly. Our approach typically involves utilizing all of Amazon's ad types and placements, including Sponsored Product, Sponsored Brand, Sponsored Display, and DSP.
Each campaign type serves a unique purpose, contributing to a holistic advertising strategy that encompasses different ad formats and targeting capabilities. By adopting this structured approach, advertisers can optimize campaign performance and increase overall profitability.
For each parent product, we implement a combination of Sponsored Product, Sponsored Brand, and Sponsored Display campaigns (DSP campaigns are excluded for simplicity in this discussion).
Within each ad type, we create a range of campaigns strategically designed to cover all ad placements, providing the necessary visibility and control to drive optimal performance. The campaign structure is illustrated in the accompanying images; however, it's worth noting that we typically introduce an additional level of segmentation based on niche. As evident, this approach results in a substantial number of campaigns, underscoring the importance of maintaining an organized keyword research sheet and adhering to effective naming conventions.
order to achieve a consistent return on ad spend (ROAS).
"Similar to advertised products" feature. Failure to do so can deplete your daily budget
quickly and adversely impact your conversion rate (CVR).
These campaigns are also known as ranking campaigns. These are a tiny subset of the highest-volume keywords that currently make sense to target. For example, if you are brand new to the Amazon platform and are lacking reviews and brand establishment, it is not advisable to pursue the most highly sought-after keyword with significant search volume. Instead, begin your ‘ranking’ campaigns with mid to low-volume keywords. As you gain relevance and visibility, these campaigns transition into evergreen campaigns, while new ranking campaigns target higher-level keywords.
Although ranking campaigns are typically not profitable, their primary purpose is to enhance the rank and relevance of your top keywords.
campaigns. Often, brands mistakenly believe they are converting on generic terms, when in fact,
they are matching with branded terms through phrase or broad match terms without utilizing
proper negative keywords.
Amazon takes every opportunity to sell ad space, which unfortunately means that even when a customer actively searches for our product, they are presented with a wide array of alternatives. To counter this and provide the best customer experience, employing aggressive defense strategies is crucial. This involves targeting all branded terms through sponsored product ads (including ASINs) and sponsored brand ads, ensuring that your products are prominently displayed when customers search for your terms.
Moreover, by targeting your own ASINs, you can occupy all the sponsored placements on your listings, preventing customers from diverting to a competitor after you've invested considerable effort (and likely paid for the click) to bring them to your listing in the first place.
The recommended approach for branded ASIN targeting is to set relatively low bids while applying a significant product page "placement" percentage modifier (typically exceeding 300-400%+). This combination ensures that these campaigns primarily appear on product pages since ASIN targeting has the potential to show up in search results.
Auto campaigns serve as effective prospecting campaigns, but their usage should be limited to that purpose. While auto campaigns can generate a substantial number of sales, they lack the granular control over individual keywords necessary for efficient scaling. By transitioning successful keywords from auto campaigns to Exact and Phrase match, you gain precise bid control over those specific keywords, allowing for better efficiency as you scale your advertising efforts.
By conducting comprehensive keyword research beforehand, you can launch your auto campaigns with aggressive negative keywords. This restricts their freedom to discover only new keywords that were not uncovered during the initial keyword research phase. Once an auto campaign identifies a converting keyword, it should be promoted to Exact or Phrase match and negated from the auto campaign.
Typically, our auto campaigns represent less than 10% of the total ad spend, ideally staying below 5%.
your broad and auto campaigns.
Negative keywords play a vital role in effective campaign design as they provide guardrails to Amazon, preventing ad spend where it is not desired. For each of our brands, we maintain an ongoing negative keyword sheet that is regularly updated as we discover new keywords to target.
An often overlooked aspect of negative keywords is excluding keywords that you are targeting in other campaigns. For example, negating branded keywords/ASINs from your prospecting campaigns ensures that your prospecting spend remains focused on non-branded terms, without any branded keywords inadvertently inflating your return on ad spend (ROAS).
Amazon Case Studies
Kitchen & Dining
• 3x Increase in ROA
Our first step with this brand was to establish a strong branded defense by targeting branded terms as well as our own ASINs. We then conducted thorough KW research, segmenting KWs based on similarity and search volume (including an in-depth Negative KW list to help refine our reach). By focusing on low and medium-search volume KWs first, we were able to gain both efficiency and scale before targeting more competitive (higher volume) keywords.
We then identified gaps in competitors' branded defense – allowing us to take over our biggest competitor's branded search results. Lastly, to try and mitigate any wasted ad spend, we set up remarketing campaigns to target customers who had viewed our products over the last 30, 60, and 90 days.
All these initiatives together allowed us to 8X the account while still maintaining high efficiency for the client.
Tools & Home Improvement
• 3x Increase in Ad Spend
Through deep segmentation of campaigns into small groupings, and smart campaign naming structure and conventions - we were able to quickly identify winning segments and scale them appropriately. If many keywords were lumped together in a campaign (or effectively the same was done using broad match/auto-targeting), then individual keywords that could be strong performers are only allowed a much smaller share of spend, and their growth potential is likely missed.
This level of segmentation is what allowed us to 4X this partner's revenue while maintaining relatively stable efficiency.