When do you Pause Amazon Advertising Campaigns?


Why old campaigns are still valuable and how to improve your overall campaign score.

Amazon campaigns are the workhorses of your advertising performance. Did you know that the word “campaign” stems from the Old Greek language and means to “promote?”

That’s quite interesting since promotion plays a massive part in Amazon Advertising campaigns.

Just like the old senators in Athens trying to be promoted to more prestigious seats, every day, we try to promote our products to higher BSR “seats.”

There are a variety of campaign types available on Amazon.  Expect that the number of possible ad angles will only increase due to Amazons’ efforts in making the advertising more sophisticated and complicated with every update.

The complexity of ad types will lead to more advertising fields being implemented on the search engine result pages and the products pages. It is safe to say that advertising will not become more simple. Why should it, from Amazon’s perspective?

Complexity will most likely lead to increased ad spend since we are testing more, which benefits Amazon. It is more important than ever to master and focus on the fundamentals.

Concentrate on improving product quality and continuously optimizing product listings so that your  advertising efforts are maximized. 

With this reasoning in mind, some Amazon marketers might consider pausing campaigns, thinking it’ll maximize their efforts.

Sometimes, this is the right strategy. However, sometimes pausing campaigns isn’t best practice. Read on to understand when is best to pause campaigns and what to do instead if pausing campaigns isn’t the best strategy for you.

Should you pause your Amazon PPC campaigns?

You shouldn’t pause your campaigns because Amazon prefers keywords and campaigns that run for longer periods of time rather than lesser periods. Longstanding campaigns, anecdotally, perform better and are easier to optimize than brand new campaigns.

If you do pause your campaigns anyway, it’s not the end of the world.

When should you pause Amazon campaigns?

There are a wide range of scenarios when one might consider pausing Amazon campaigns. It might even best practice for your unique scenario to do so. Read on for examples and strategy perspectives on pausing Amazon campaigns.

You might consider pausing an Amazon campaign if:

  • The ad spend on the campaign is too high
  • The ACoS exceeds its goal level
  •  The campaigns experience entropy
  • The portfolio/ product level performance is off-target
  • There are too many campaigns in an account
  • The products are out of season
  • There are too many relevant conversions as negatives

Let’s get straight to the point. It would be best to pause campaigns when their ad spend is too high and their ACoS ratio exceeds your account level goal. When this happens, you drag your account level performance down. 

You could also pause your campaigns if you observe that the campaigns experience entropy without any significant changes. 

Sponsored brand campaigns with out-of-stock products should also be paused if these products were driving the majority of sales since SB campaigns, unlike Sponsored Product campaigns, will keep running, even when the product is out of stock. That is the most effective, immediate step to get your ratios back on track.

This is an illustrated example of when you might want to pause an Amazon campaign.

Furthermore, consider if the portfolio/ product level performance of the campaign in question is on target or not. If yes, then you have more room to let them run. If your “north star” metric on a product level is not being met, then definitely go ahead and pause the campaigns, especially if they are spending relatively high, compared to your total weekly ad spend. 

Another thing to consider when you are advertising in a younger account is that you may have  created too many campaigns too early. This is sometimes ineffective because you are spreading your energy over too many campaigns.

Simplicity should always be a fundamental pillar of every strategy. 

In the case of too many campaigns, it is recommended to pause specific campaigns and focus your ad budget on fewer campaigns that will receive more “ammunition,” so to speak.

If your campaigns are subject to OOS situations, or items being out of season, or several similar factors, we recommend not archiving campaigns, just pausing. Keep these campaigns since their historical campaign data is valuable down the road.

Another scenario in which you might consider pausing your campaign is if you have already harvested your campaigns to extremes, squeezed the life-juice out of them, or if you have too many relevant conversions as negatives, especially in auto campaigns. When this happens, A9 believes the product is not suitable for the search terms. 

These are all valid reasons for pausing Amazon campaigns. Like with all things related to Amazon marketing, each reason has its own nuance. Determining what is best for you and your campaigns requires steady judgement and long-term vision.

When to think twice about pausing Amazon campaigns?

The reasons to pause your campaigns depend on both the stage of your product life cycle the campaign is advertising on and the purpose of the campaign. 

If you are in an aggressive launch phase, then you give your campaigns more room to operate. This also applies to ranking campaigns, where you are trying to increase the position of your product under specific search terms higher.

The A9 algorithm, the algorithm Amazon utilizes, places values on the variables on each campaign and decides which ad will win the auction and get the click. 

The ad with the highest expected CTR and the highest expected CVR and revenue will most likely win any auction. Amazon prefers consistency. High click-through rates and high conversion rates are variables that are extremely important for your advertising success.

If you observe declining conversion rates or click-through rates in your account, that hurts your overall campaign score. To remedy declining rates, pause the campaigns; pull your “players” out of the game for a second and maintain them to save the campaign.

Let’s stick with the coach analogy for a second. You have to decide between putting two players in the game. One already has a proven track record and experience, and the other is still talented but needs to prove himself due to inexperience on the field. Which one would take preference? Most likely the player with a proven track record is a safer bet.

Why are old campaigns valuable?

According to Amazon’s definition of successful advertising, the winner of every auction in a bidding pool comes down to click-through rate, which is the first variable the A9 algorithm considers. 

divide total clicks by total impressions to get your CTR
Divide your total clicks by total impressions to know if your CTR is healthy.

If your CTR for a campaign is below 0.30%, then that is an adjusting screw that you can actuate in order to improve the campaign score. In this scenario, the campaign is not accelerating the way it should accelerate. Pause the campaign and re-upload it since Amazon prefers the products with a higher probability of generating a click in any bidding pool. 

Ideally, you want to identify the reason why your click-through rate was low. Possible examples were that the keywords in the campaign that gathered many impressions with under-optimized clicks were not that relevant or too broad. That drags down the overall campaign score. In that scenario, we recommend breaking those keywords into separate campaigns with a different purpose to ensure maximum efficiency from a CTR standpoint. 

Old campaigns are still valuable because of their history of CTR. Sometimes it is better to focus on the fundamentals, such as improving your CTR, than pausing your campaigns. Read on to understand how to improve your CTR.

How to improve your CTR

Before advertising a product, check best practices for CTR optimization. We recommend improving the primary image of your listing, including the fathead of your main keyword in the title, and optimizing your listing page for mobile, providing discounts, and knowing your competitor. 

The primary image is the most significant click-through-rate factor for a customer that ideally breaks the pattern recognition of the customer when scrolling through the SERP. Check how your first image compares to your competitors and ask yourself honestly if you are standing out from a customer perspective. 

First impressions always matter in real life and on Amazon because we’re not selling it as B2C or B2B; we sell B2People. 

Does your title include the fathead of your main keyword, as well as the longtail? Ideally, you can check the relevancy for each keyword by typing in the search term into the search bar and looking for relevant search term ranking. Alternatively, make sure you’ve done your keyword research homework.

Does your title incentivize your target audience’s primary desire? The first 60 characters of your title should sell what your target audience wants most to improve CTR. Prepping upfront and knowing your target audience and their root emotion for buying your product is critical.

Remember, 70% of all shoppers on Amazon shop on mobile devices. As sellers and advertisers, we tend to perceive the search engine result pages and product pages through our desktop, which is not in resonance with the shopping experience of the majority of your customers. Wearing our customer glasses is the key concept here. 

Another idea for improving CTR is to consider price reductions– a classic, powerful, psychological incentive. We recommend implementing dollar discounts rather than percentage discounts, if it makes sense for your price point, because that is a more tangible deduction from a customer psychology standpoint.

It’s also beneficial to continuously monitor your competitors. Know what competitors are in your bidding pools. Every bid will put you into a different bidding pool with other products, which will dictate your CTR and CVR. Remember, we are not operating within an isolated environment.

Here are some quick examples with quick advice:

Situation: Is there a trend in declining impressions? 

Answer: Raise the bid or optimize your bid placements.

Situation: Is there a reduction in CTR?

Answer: Optimize your incentives like main image, price point, prime emblem, price discount, title, and review count/rating concerning your competitors.

There’s more factors to consider when determining how to improve your CTR approach, but another factor that may impact whether or not you decide pausing your Amazon campaigns is the best strategy for you is CVR, conversion rate.

How does CVR influence your campaign score?

After considering CTR, we would look at conversion rate and expected revenue or average or value to determine the best strategy regarding pausing Amazon campaigns or not.

Amazon is a proprietary machine-learning system. Therefore, it will most likely prefer campaigns with more data that have proven themselves already.

CVR is important to the A9 algorithm because it constantly tests each product for maximum gain. The A9 continually asks, “What product will drive the most revenue and has the highest quality for customer experience?” and tests for that purpose.

Long story short, the product that drives the most revenue and has the lowest return rate will rank number one.

Therefore, double down on the keyword sets you are advertising on and check for maximum relevance for these terms. Improving your CVR will increase your campaign score

On the other hand, generating clicks for specific keywords (even relevant) and not converting  trains the A9 to believe that we are not driving revenue for that term. 

If your CVR does not improve after optimizing for keyword relevance, consider pausing and reuploading the campaign since the algorithm’s historical conversion rate is too low. 

We have seen cases where campaigns are set up outstanding yet are still not gathering impressions, or their click-through rates are below average. This can be since you are uploading multiple campaigns in one upload.

Even though Amazon is the most sophisticated e-commerce market globally, its system sometimes has registration issues due to the volume of new campaigns uploaded every second. Practice patience.

How to reactivate paused campaigns

When it comes time to reactivate paused campaigns, consider that the search volume for the item you advertised in the old campaign might have changed. Study competitors to fine-tune and revamp your approach.

Campaigns that have been pulled out of the game need maintenance like a vehicle. Be aware that the sales velocity must be regained. Advertising campaigns sometimes break down due to being harvested too much, too soon, for too long, and if you do not take care of them like a mechanic, they face entropy.

Lastly, some campaigns can be maintained and have been proven to be effective after reactivation. In some cases, however, they never recover from being squeezed too much. 

The A9 is, in a way, just like us. Yes, it is a machine learning system, but it reads our behavior, and as far as we can tell and have experienced, it prefers consistency from the standpoint of spending volume.

When is pausing Amazon campaigns a good tactic?

Generally speaking, pausing Amazon campaigns is a great tactic to lower high costs immediately. You take the underperforming players momentarily “outof  the game” to allocate more budget or “play time” to campaigns that are performing efficiently.

Our recommended overlying strategy is to put those campaigns into maintenance mode and consider the Ins and Outs impacting CTR and CVR.

Finding the root cause of the decline in performance is how we decide rationally, rather than reacting emotionally, based on the data for what is the best strategy. The numbers speak to us, and only when we listen to them and observe them objectively can we decide effectively.

The more you signal the algorithm’s consistency in spending behavior and keep your KPIs stable, or ideally improve them, the more auctions you will win. 

If you have put in the work and target the highest relevancy search terms, you will claim higher and higher ranks. Amazon is favoring you to win. There is no secret here. The best product on the market will win. That is a law of nature.

We’ll see you in The Badger Den.


This article was written by Paul Haberlien, PPC Expert and Campaign Success Manager at Ad Badger, and edited by Nancy Lili Gonzalez.

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