Keyword cannibalization is a known issue that search engine marketers have had to understand and structure their accounts to combat. Amazon Advertisers are now facing the same challenge. The Kenshoo Ecommerce keyword cannibalization report can help.
Most people think about Amazon as a retail site, but it has become a leading search engine—especially with shopping. In fact, nearly half (46.7%) of US internet users start product searches on Amazon compared with 34.6% who go to Google first.
Amazon’s native search advertising is a win-win-win for all parties. Consumers get enhanced search results, marketers get to offer timely and relevant advertising, and Amazon is able to sell more products.
Pairing ads with keywords can be like air traffic control
As traditional search engine marketers have figured out over the last twenty years, there are various complexities at play here. One of those challenges is that on many occasions, a search engine’s system must decide among multiple keywords within an advertisers account to choose to match with a user query.
Consider [a bit of an exaggerated] example to illustrate this point: if an Amazon shopper searches on the term “shoes,” depending on how an advertiser’s account is set up, it could potentially match that query with ads in the “men’s shoes” ad group, the “women’s shoes” ad group, the “running shoes” ad group, etc.
How does Amazon know which ad group to pick when this happens?
Most of this stuff is a bit black box, but the assumption has been made that when this happens on a traditional search engine like Google, for example, that the system optimizes for clicks. In other words, it picks the ad that it thinks will have the best chance to get clicked because search engines typically generate ad revenue from clicks. There isn’t an obvious conflict of interest here because search advertisers want clicks too.
On Amazon, the ad pairing approach is still unknown, but common sense would dictate that the system probably optimizes for Amazon revenue. Of course, the chosen ad that makes the most money for Amazon may not be the item that generates the most revenue for the brand.
And remember, in an auction-based keyword-driven channel, there’s the extra issue that you might be driving up advertising costs by competing with yourself.
Thus, it’s super important—and a search marketing best practice—to structure accounts to gain the most control over this process. This helps ensure that the ad a marketer wants to be matched with a specific query won’t have any internal competition and confuse the engine. This way, only one keyword is ever matched with a query.
“Performance is better when you have control and when your structure is optimal. You want to make sure that you’re delivering the right message or product that is most relevant to the search term,” says Roy Feig, Kenshoo’s Director of Product. “For that, you need to continuously make sure the right keyword in the right campaign is winning the auction for the search term.”
When an account is optimized for keyword matching, the results are much cleaner to analyze and if a certain keyword isn’t working, it’s not because it’s being de-prioritized behind the scenes. This means that the search marketer can take action to get performance up using optimization tactics like changing the ads, bids, budgets, match types, etc.
Fixing the issue with the Kenshoo Ecommerce keyword cannibalization report
Kenshoo has more than 13 years experience as a mature, paid search platform partner with Google, Bing, and others so this issue has already been addressed for that channel. In fact, the Kenshoo Ecommerce cannibalization report is an evolution of a product already battle tested and in-market for 5 years with Kenshoo Search. (Check out the 2014 Kenshoo post, Are You Unintentionally Driving Up Your Advertising Costs? for more information).
The Kenshoo Ecommerce cannibalization report enables Amazon advertisers to better understand which keywords could be working against each other within the same account.
“Amazon has protections in place to help prevent self-competition, but our report is unique because it helps advertisers that might have many different accounts to understand if keyword cannibalization is occurring,” says Brandon Ventimiglia, Kenshoo’s Senior Client Success Manager. “For example, a big company with multiple brands that already compete on store shelves will likely have similar keywords across accounts. With Kenshoo, they are able to gain insight into what’s going on and make data-driven decisions to address those issues.”
How does it work?
The keyword cannibalization report in Kenshoo Ecommerce analyzes keyword matching based on raw API data from Amazon. It checks to see if more than one keyword is triggering impressions for the same user query and logs multiple matches.
But getting a list of cannibalization occurrences is just the tip of the iceberg. Staying true to Kenshoo’s DNA to offer solutions, not just tools, the system goes a step further to aid marketers with deeper analysis and recommendations. The report can determine the potential amount of ad spend that could be impacted by this issue and even suggest actions such as pausing certain keywords or setting negative match types within campaigns to keep cannibalization from happening.
The net result is that Amazon advertisers get better visibility into how all of their efforts are working together. In some cases, a marketer might be perfectly fine with Amazon picking between numerous keywords for a user query, but at least then it’s a conscious choice to let the system choose, and not something that’s happening accidentally with varying results.
“Marketers rely on data to make us as as nimble possible,” says Paul Carrington, Kenshoo’s Expert Services Senior Analyst. “Having that data available in an easily digestible form is imperative to cut hours of spreadsheet jockeying. Making that kind of informed decision quickly increases overall profitability. As difficult as cannibalization can be to define, having the technology available for making that decision is empowering.”
Want to learn more?
To learn more about this keyword cannibalization report for Amazon, Kenshoo clients should reach out to their account reps. For non-clients, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us to schedule a quick and easy demo of Kenshoo Ecommerce today!