How to Tell the Difference Between a Good and Bad ACoS on Amazon

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

There's as a good or bad ACoS!

There, I said it.  No such thing, like the John Mayer song. That’s just one badger’s opinion (even though it’s the right one). Sometimes saying that blows the minds of Amazon sellers like the ending of Fight Club.

ACoS is a pretty complicated topic and a grey area for many sellers. Try to keep up.

Everything we’re covering in this post:

  • What is Amazon ACoS?
  • What is the ACoS formula
  • What Average, Low, and High ACoS is
  • Misc. Ways to Hit Your Target ACoS

What is the Amazon ACoS formula?

ACoS stands for Advertising Cost of Sales. Your ACoS percentage is how much you spend on advertising per for dollar of revenue you make. You can calculate your ACoS with this formula:

ACoS = Total Ad Spend / Total Sales

Example: If your ACoS is 25%, 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.). 

ACoS is a critical measurement 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’s some more tips on Amazon PPC vs. Google Ads.

Check out this video made by Michael 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). 

Something Michael touches upon with data is that segmentation is everything. When looking at your ACoS in Ad Badger or Seller Central, you can view your data at the account, campaign, or ad group level. Like Michael said, most sellers want a low ACoS for maximum profit. However, a high ACoS means high visibility. Let’s discuss a break-even ACoS.

How to 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’s important to know how to calculate your break-even ACoS in order to decide your Target ACoS. 

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

Amazon Target ACoS

How to Hit Your Target ACoS

You should set a Target ACoS (TACoS) and use other metrics like conversion rate and average order value to get there. 

Here’s a great video on bidding perfectly and reach your Target ACoS:

Play Video

Here is the bid calculator to bid the perfect amount every time and hit your Target ACoS. Simply hit file and make a copy to edit the ACoS calculator with your own data. 

In this video, he uses the example:

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

Let’s say our average order value is $19 at a 10% conversion rate, and your Target ACoS (TACoS) was 30%, so 0.3. If we were to run through this calculation, 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 ACoS.”

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 hit your TACoS, you have release your inner badger and fight for it

What is the average ACoS on Amazon?

What Is The Average ACoS On Amazon?

For Ad Badger, the average Sponsored Product Ad’s ACoS per user, per day has been 30.4% since the beginning of the year. This is a good point of reference and right in the middle of a high and low ACoS. 

April was the best time to advertise for profitability for our users in 2018 with the highest number of sales and the lowest ACoS (27.8%). Let’s talk about what low ACoS means for high profitability.

Low ACoS Means High Profitability

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

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 cost of goods).

Spending a low amount on your ads can be negative as well. Having a low budget for your ads 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 PPCthat goes into more detail about how ACoS impacts your campaigns.

Types of Amazon PPC ads featured image

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

Optimize Your Product Pages

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

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
This is an example of a bad product image on Amazon

Find the Best Times to Advertise

Using our data, we’ve been collecting this year, we found that Sunday to Wednesday are the best time to advertise and the best month this year was April. Using this data is incredibly valuable to Amazon sellers when deciding their TACoS. Here is the post on April Amazon PPC stats for 2018. 

As you can see, the beginning of the year isn't the best time to advertise and Amazon sales have improved as the year went on.

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 waste spend.

Mmmmm, TACoS.

Stay Tuned For More 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. 

In the coming weeks we’ll be breaking down the sections about Amazon ACoS in this post. Stay tuned for more info on the metric that decides the success of your Amazon PPC ads. 

Badger out!

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