ACoS for Amazon: What is ACoS and how to calculate for Amazon PPC?

ACoS Image

What Is ACoS? And How Do You Calculate Amazon ACoS

ACoS, or Advertising Cost of Sales, is how much you spend on advertising per dollar of revenue you make. It can also be seen as the ratio of ad spend in contrast with the target sales.

Your Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS) is extremely important in Amazon PPC. It’s a key metric that guides your Amazon advertising strategy.

Your ACoS is a measure of success, a fickle percentage that decides how you bid on search terms. In Amazon PPC advertising, ACoS is everything.

But what makes a good or bad ACoS on Amazon?

There's no such thing as a good or bad ACoS!

There, I said it. There’s no such thing as good or bad ACoS.

No such thing, like the John Mayer song. That’s just one badger’s opinion (even though it’s the right one). Sometimes we wonder if ACoS is a vanity metric. Sometimes saying that blows the minds of Amazon sellers like the ending of Fight Club.

ACoS is a complicated topic and a grey area for many sellers.

Here’s everything we’ll cover in this post:

      1. What is Amazon ACoS and How do you Calculate it
      2. How to Calculate Break-Even ACoS
      3. How to Hit Your Target ACoS
      4. What an Average, Low, and High ACoS mean
      5. Extra Tips to Improve your Amazon ACoS

What Is ACoS? And How Do You Calculate Amazon ACoS

The ACoS definition is simple. ACoS, Advertising Cost of Sales, is how much you spend on advertising per  dollar of revenue you make. 

You can also think of ACoS as the ratio of ad spend in contrast with the target sales.

Calculate your ACoS with this formula: ACoS = Total Ad Spend / Total Sales.

ACoS Formula
How to easily calculate ACoS

Here’s a good example of an ACoS calculation: If your ACoS is 25%, then that means you paid $0.25 for every dollar you made, or $25 for every $100 you made (we’re only considering Ad Spend here, not production costs, Amazon fees, etc.). 

Amazon ACoS is a critical measurement of your campaign’s success.

If you’re an experienced PPC marketer, you may realize Amazon took this idea from Google Ads which uses Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Here are some more tips on Amazon PPC vs. Google Ads.

Check out this video made by Ad Badger’s CEO, Michael Facchin, to learn even more about the meaning of ACoS on Amazon:

Play Video

Cool shirt right? I picked it out for him. It reminds me of my home in the Serengeti (actual footage of me in the Serengeti). 

Now that you understand ACoS meaning, we need to cover how to optimize your advertising cost of sales to improve your profit margin.

How To Use Amazon ACoS On Seller Central

Something Michael touches upon with data is that segmentation is everything.

To do this, first, you need to navigate to Seller Central and find the ACoS column.

Where to find ACoS on Seller Central
You can find ACOS on the right-hand column of the Seller Central dashboard

When looking at your ACoS in Ad Badger or Seller Central, you can segment your data at the account, campaign, or ad group level.

Here’s an in-depth article on how to segment the four auto-targets in Amazon Advertising and here’s an in-depth article on how to segment for branded keywords in Amazon Ads.

You can see the specific ACOS of any of your ad groups

With that, you’ll always be able to gauge your Amazon ACoS and see if you’re on track.

But how do you tell if you have a good or bad ACoS? Well, that’s where break-even and target ACoS come into play.

How do you Calculate Break-Even ACoS?

Break-even ACoS is the point where your advertising cost is equal to your profit margin (you have a net loss / net gain of $0). It answers the question of “At what ACoS do you make zero profit and zero loss?” Clear as mud? Let’s walk through an example:

Let’s say we had a toy car that had a sale price of $20, and we’re paying Amazon fees of $3 on that product. Then let’s say to have that product be created, the cost of goods is $6.

What are we left with when 20 minus 3 minus 6? That’s $11 as our Pre-Ad Profit per Sale. 

Who doesn't love a good whiteboard equation?

Now if we spent all of those $11 on acquiring paid traffic to generate sales, then based on our ACoS formula we would do $11/$20 which equals 55%.

So our break-even ACoS is 55%. If we’re doing lower than 55%, we’ll be profitable. If we’re doing over 55%, we’ll be unprofitable.

It’s important to know how to calculate your break-even ACoS in order to decide your Target ACoS. Remember that a good ACoS depends on several factors such as your profit margin and brand visibility before your ad campaign.

If all this sounds confusing, don’t worry. We wrote a whole post and recorded a video (the whole shebang) on break-even ACoS.

How do you Hit Your Target ACoS?

No one wants to make zero profit, so we need another measure called Target ACoS (TACoS). If you wanted to make a profit on Amazon, you would no longer spend all of your Pre-Ad Profit to generate sales.

What you spend is your Target ACoS and what you don’t is your profit margin, illustrated in the graph below:

ACoS Breakdown
How Break-even ACoS and TACoS are related

So how do you set your TACoS and how does it relate to bidding?

Let’s take a look at the calculation behind what the perfect bid actually looks like. It’s average order value times your conversion rate, divided by one over your Target ACoS, equals what you should be paying every single click.

CPC Formula
Calculating the perfect bid using TACoS

If you somehow were able to go inside your Amazon account and optimize every single keyword or ad group to this calculation, you would never be overbidding and you would never be underbidding.

To automate this process, we made a bid ACoS calculator so you can bid the perfect amount every time and hit your Target ACoS and control your profit margin.

How To Use The Ad Badger Bid ACoS Calculator

You can find the calculator here. Simply hit the file and make a copy to edit the ACoS calculator with your own data. 

How to get the Ad Badger bid calculator from Google Drive
How to make a copy of the Ad Badger bid calculator

Now let’s run through an example.

Let’s say our average order value is $19 at a 10% conversion rate, and your Target ACoS (TACoS) was 30%, so 0.3. Let’s plug each of these values into the calculator.

Where to enter your numbers into the bid calculator
You only need to fill out the orange cells for the magic to happen

If we were to run through this calculation manually, we would get $19 times 0.10, over 1 over 0.3, giving us 57 cents. Meaning, if we were to bid 57 cents every single time, we would hit our 0.3 or our 30% Target Advertising Cost of Sale.

Or the calculator does all the work for us!

Bid Calculator Results
Same result, but much much easier

Ideally, you should have a TACoS for each Amazon PPC campaign you perform as well as an overall TACoS to stay within your ad budget.

If you want to learn even more about how to use TACoS to optimize your Amazon PPC bids, check out the video below:

Play Video

If you want to hit your TACoS, you have to release your inner badger and fight for it. Don’t forget your Amazon advertising can drastically increase your sales if you optimize your campaign properly. Keep reading to find out how.

What Does An Average, Low, And High Amazon ACoS Mean?

Average ACoS is the Perfect Benchmark

For Ad Badger, the average Sponsored Product Ad’s ACoS per user per day has been 34.42% since the beginning of 2019, even now through 2022. This is a good point of reference and right in the middle of a high and low ACoS.

April is traditionally the best time to advertise for profitability for our users with the highest number of sales and the lowest ACoS (~20%).

Low ACoS Means High Profitability

Generally, sellers believe you should aim to lower your Amazon ACoS. However, it depends on what your strategy is for selling a product and your profit margin. I consider 15-25% a low ACoS and a good point to start at if you decide to aim for a low ACoS.

However, you have probably been bombarded with the phrase “¡LOWER YOUR ACoS!”. It is true that lowering your Amazon ACoS can be helpful, but only if it matches your intentions.

Setting a low ACoS is also a good strategy for:

  • Making as much profit as possible
  • Selling a low-converting product
  • You have a product that doesn’t need high visibility

Example: Let’s say your TACoS is 10% and you make sales of $200. You spent $20 on ads for a profit of $180 (before the cost of goods).

Lowering your ad spend can be negative as well. Having a low ad spend budget compromises the visibility of the product. Because you bid for keywords in Amazon PPC, setting your bids low for a highly competitive keyword runs the risk of losing the auction for it.

High ACoS Means High Visibility

The best way to explain high ACoS is to use the age-old saying “You have to spend money to make money.”

Great Amazon sellers use different TACoS for different types of products to maximize their selling potential. While having a low ACoS is great for profitability, a high ACoS can increase visibility, dominate a niche, and lead to more profit in the long run.

Setting a high ACoS is a good strategy for sellers who:

  • Are trying to get rid of a low-selling product
  • Trying to run a sell-out of a product
  • Trying to increase brand awareness
  • Dominate a niche
  • Want high product visibility

You can relate a high ACoS to advertisers who buy a huge spot in Times Square or produce a Super Bowl commercial. The advertiser is spending a large amount of money, but the chance of return is very high.

Example: Let’s say your TACoS is 40% and you make sales of 1,000. You spent $400 for a profit of $600 (before cost of goods).

If you haven’t checked it out yet, we wrote the ultimate guide to Amazon PPC that goes into more detail about how ACoS impacts your campaigns.

How do you Diagnose Causes of ACOS Spikes?

A common question we hear is, "why did my ACoS spike?" 

We answer the question in depth on this episode of The PPC Den, but we'll give you the run-down here too.

Steps to Diagnose Why Your ACoS Spiked

Step 1 : Dig deeper.
Step 2 : Do time comparisons.
Learn more about the single keyword campaign strategy we use to make our best keywords better by clicking on "pro tip."
Single Keyword Campaigns
Step 3: Ask more advanced questions
Step 4: Take time to plan.

There Are Tons Of Other Ways To Help Hit Your Target ACoS on Amazon

Hitting your ACoS goals is easy when you optimize your prodcut pages, find the best times to advertise, and use an Amazon PPC tool like the Ad Badger App.


Optimize Your Product Pages

Your product page and your price are half the equation for creating a conversion. If you did a great job in your product ranking and Amazon PPC campaign, but your product page isn’t great, then the potential customer will bounce to another related product.

Ensure your Amazon product listing appeals to the a-9 algorithm by answering if your product page clearly answers what the product is, who is it’s clear target audience, and how to purchase.

How to optimize product pages on Amazon
Here’s a great product page I found looking up “smoothie.” If you know any good smoothie recipes comment below. I’m tired of badger food.

A great product page has:

  • An accurate and compelling product title
  • A thorough product description
  • High-quality product photos and videos
  • A high number of good reviews
  • Amazon Prime eligibility

Make sure to optimize your Organic Product Listings for SEO as well as PPC for supreme ACoS results.

This is an example of a bad product image on Amazon
Here's an example of what NOT to do with your product page or your Amazon ACoS will suffer.

Find the Best Times to Advertise

Using our data we’ve been collecting for the past since 2017, we found that Sunday to Wednesday are the best time to advertise and the best month is April.

Using this data is incredibly valuable to Amazon sellers when deciding their TACoS. Here is the post on Amazon PPC Stats; we update it regularly.

Average Sales per Day
As you can see, the beginning of the year isn't the best time to advertise and Amazon sales have improved during spring time each year

Use an Amazon PPC Tool

Like I’ve been saying, there are many Amazon PPC tools out there that can automate your bidding to ensure you hit your TACoS every time (cough, cough like Ad Badger).

We take your conversion rate and TACoS into account when bidding to hit your TACoS for every campaign and reach maximum sales and reduce wasted spend.

Mmmmm, TACoS.

Amazon Sales, ACoS, advertising cost of sales, sales ACoS, Amazon PPC, the ratio of ad––Save yourself from all of this lingo.

Trust us when we say that an Amazon PPC tool like ours will make your life a lot more simple and save you an average of 10x time of manual effort.

Stay Tuned For More Amazon ACoS Content

The bottom line: there’s no real definition of a “good” or “bad” ACoS because it relates to personal strategy and revenue. Generally when someone says “good ACoS,” they typically mean low ACoS for maximum profitability. 

Since this post first launched, we’ve created more content on Amazon’s ACoS information. Here’s a great post on Amazon PPC’s Total ACOS Trinity, detailing how to lower total ACoS with only PPC. Here’s an article about lowering ACoS quickly by using Bulk Operations too.

We’re always publishing new information on Amazon Advertising Cost of Sale. Stay tuned for more info on the metric that decides the success of your Amazon PPC ads. 

Badger out!

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