How to Segment Branded Keywords in Amazon Ads

Branded keywords are the search terms that include your brand or company name. For example, “basketball shoes” is a generic non-branded keyword, but “Nike basketball shoes” is a branded keyword.

So what would happen if you separated all of your non-branded keywords and branded keywords into different campaigns? Amazon sellers have recently adopted this PPC strategy more frequently, and we’re going to break down if it’s really worth it or not.

Here’s what you can look forward to learning:

  1. What are Segmented Branded Keywords?
  2. Why its becoming more frequent
  3. The benefits of separating Branded Keywords
  4. Potential drawbacks
  5. How much will it actually help your campaign?

What are Segmented Branded Keywords?

Let’s keep our shoe example running and say Nike is launching a new basketball shoe. When they release this product on Amazon, people might search for it using terms like “basketball shoes” or “Nike basketball shoes”. 

Although these keywords might look similar, they’re more different than you think. People searching for “basketball shoes” might just be browsing around and ads for this keyword might have a lower CTR and conversion rate since it’s quite broad.

Meanwhile, “Nike basketball shoes” shows more intent, and these people are likely looking for something more specific. Therefore, different search phrases could be used to trigger unique ads that match what stage of the buying funnel customers are in. 

“Basketball shoes” can trigger a generic ad in your campaign, and “Nike basketball shoes” can trigger a more specific and relevant ad. You can accomplish this yourself by using negative keywords.

Segmenting with Negative Phrases and Branding

Since you don’t want your brand name triggering your product targeting ad campaigns, you need to add your brand as a negative exact match. That’s right you’re going to negative brand your own brand.

This creates product campaigns that have none of your brand keywords inside of them. The next step is to create a whole new campaign for the same product but with just your branded keywords now.

In our shoe example, you would get 2 campaigns that look something like this:

Search terms inside a segmented branded campaign
None of your keywords should overlap between the campaigns.

And you can take it even further. You could create a third campaign that includes your competitors’ brands and have your ad target their products. 

When someone searches “Reebok basketball shoes,” it could trigger your product ad and give you the chance to steal some of your competitors’ customers. 

Why its Becoming More Frequent

In the past 5 years, the popular belief was that branded keyword conversions didn’t matter because they would’ve converted anyway with or without the ad. 

However, today we have more keyword data than ever, and it shows that no, branded keywords aren’t a 100% guaranteed conversion.

For instance a lot of times a customer might do a generic search term first and come back and do a branded search later. Triggering that branded ad later in the sales funnel might be the extra nudge that customer needed to convert. 

In fact, almost 1 in 3 big, brand heavy Amazon sellers are starting to implement this strategy.

As CPCs rise and PPC campaigns are put under increasing scrutiny, more and more sellers need to sit down and see if this strategy would be worth it for them.

 Let’s analyze the three biggest pros and cons of this method. 

The Benefits of Separating Branded Keywords

More Control Over Your Budget

The biggest control of this strategy is the fine level control it gives for budgeting. Right now on Amazon you can’t set different budgets at the keyword or ad group level; it has to be at the campaign level. 

By separating out your branded and non-branded keywords into different campaigns, you can set unique budgets and control your spending for each one individually.

You could set a finite budget for you non-branded campaign and have an unlimited budget for your branded campaign if those terms have low ACoS and high conversions. 

Another example might be limiting how much you spend to target competitors’ branded keywords. You could set a hard daily limit of $50 for these kinds of ads and not run the risk of overspending. 

This level of budget control over keywords just isn’t possible without segmenting them into different campaigns.

Budget comparison
Look at that lovely granular control

Easier Reporting for “True Non-Branded Performance”

By segmenting your keywords like this, you can gain more insights from your data because it’ll already be broken down for you by campaigns.

It’s much easier to spot how ACoS or CTR fluctuates with non-branded keywords if your PPC campaigns are already structured like this. It also allows you to jump in and fine tune areas of your campaign in bulk with ease.

Without segmented keywords, you would need to sort your data each time to find trends within different groups of keywords.

It’s Good to be Intentional

When you’re actively thinking about your PPC campaign and asking questions like “I have this target for this search term, where should it go?” or “what group do these keywords belong in?” it helps you become a vigilant optimizer. 

Deploying this strategy forces you to pay attention to your search terms and practice good campaign maintenance. For all my programmers, it’s like the difference between clean code and sloppy, messy code. 

By practicing good habits with this strategy, it can make you a better optimizer in other areas like budget control and ACoS targets and intangibly boost your PPC success.

Potential Drawbacks

Unfortunately, employing this heavily segmented strategy comes with some cons. 

More Cumbersome to Handle

All of sudden you’ll have nearly twice or three times as many campaigns to manage. Things will get crowded and you’ll constantly need to evaluate where every keyword belongs.

You go from 1 product in 4 campaigns to 1 product in 4 campaigns multiplied by 3 sets. Throw in additional ad types and you can see how this can grow out of hand exponentially fast. 

Panic GIF
Is it time to start panicking?

Good maintenance can mitigate this, but it’ll definitely take a lot more energy and resources to make sure your campaigns are always in smooth working order.

Data Dilution

Let’s say you downloaded your search term report and looked at how well a certain search term was doing. It would be a lot more challenging to find out because now that data is spread over 12 different campaigns and subsequently 12 different reports. 

This is where there’s a bit of a trade-off. On one hand segmenting out your branded keywords gives you excellent data about the groups themselves, but it makes learning about the individual search terms harder. 

It’s Tough to Categorize Branded Keywords

There’s no standard way to know for sure whether a search term is branded or non-branded.

Imagine your product was the “Nike Air Force 1” or “Nike Air Max”. Are “Air Force” and “Air Max” branded terms now? What happens if someone misspells “Force”? These sort of in-between keywords where it’s not necessarily brand or non-branded are fairly common. 

The best thing to do is to define what you consider to be a branded term from the start. Things to consider include:

  • Brand name
  • Product names
  • Product names with other words
  • Brand name with other words

How Much Will it Actually Help Your Campaign?

Segmenting your keywords comes with many pros and cons, so we have to ask ourselves the golden question, “How much will it help my campaign?” There’s no use in deploying such a high maintenance strategy for only a 2% increase in sales. 

We’ve seen a few accounts that we manage at Ad Badger use this strategy and our consensus is that while performance boosts may or may not come, segmenting branded keywords definitely doesn’t hurt you either.

This makes sense because at its core this is more of a reporting strategy than a performance strategy. No part of this method lowers ACoS or anything like that. It simply organizes the keywords in a way that leads to new insights. 

However, you can actually gain many of these insights through other methods like the targeting report, so in general a hardline separation of your keywords probably isn’t worth it.

The Verdict

Unless your PPC strategy centers around knowing the exact differences between branded and non-branded keywords, the time and effort it takes to maintain this strategy makes it a tough sell.

Discover Us on our PPC Den Podcast

If you prefer learning via audio, we cover this same info in the podcast episode below. You can also find us on your favorite streaming platforms like Apple, Google, Spotify, and more!

  • 3:12 Should you segment out your branded keywords?
  • 7:05 Why this is happening more frequently
  • 10:30 More control over your budget
  • 12:30 Easier reporting for “true non-branded performance”
  • 13:30 Getting as segmented as possible
  • 15:55 Biggest pro – Be intentional with your paid strategy
  • 18:20 More cumbersome to manage
  • 22:00 Tough to tell which keywords count as branded
  • 24:20 Keywords boost each other in a pack
  • 25:55 Make sure you have the right reasons
  • 30:20 Using the targeting report instead
  • 31:08 How much will it actually help your campaign?
  1. Why We’re Living In The Golden Age of Amazon PPC
  2. The Bid+ Conundrum
  3. Amazon’s New Product Targeting Features
  4. The Advanced Basics of Amazon PPC
  5. Amazon PPC Advertising Stats
  6. Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sponsored Products (Part 1)
  7. Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sponsored Products (Part 2)
  8. Campaign Naming Systems
  9. Product Targeting – Into the Great Unknown
  10. The Strangest, Most Popular PPC Strategy: The Keyword Dump
  11. Dissenting Thoughts on PPC Budgets
  12. First Look on New Bid Options in Amazon
  13. What We Love About Amazon PPC
  14. The Dreaded Amazon Data Reporting Delay
  15. All Things Negative Keywords
  16. Cranking Up Conversion Rates
  17. The Star-Crossed Lovers (Organic & Paid Traffic)
  18. How to Scale Using PPC – A Case Study
  19. The Ultimate Amazon PPC Roadmap
  20. Amazon Advertising Launch Strategy for New Products
  21. Our Gripes About Amazon Sponsored Brand Ads
  22. Should You Bid on Competitors’ Branded Keywords
  23. Making Sense of New to Brand Metrics
  24. Defining Your PPC Goals & Setting ACOS Targets
  25. The Latest Sponsored Brand Ad Updates
  26. An Introduction To Bulk File Operations
  27. Click Through Rate (CTR) Rundown
  28. The Importance of Indexation for Amazon PPC
  29. My 5 Predictions for the Future of Amazon PPC
  30. A Round-Table Discussion About Placement Settings
  31. The Complete Guide to Self-Auditing Your Campaigns
  32. Improving Your Account With Amazon Reports
  33. A Data-Driven Approach to Prime Day PPC 
  34. Clickfraud, Who to Hire, and More Common Amazon PPC Questions
  35. Increase Conversion Rates for Sponsored Brand Ads
  36. Amazon DSP with Kiri Masters
  37. 4 Things Amazon Does Better than Google and Facebook
  38. Three Effective Ways to Optimize Amazon PPC Bids
  39. Promoting your Products with Amazon Coupons
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