My guest today is Brian Johnson of the software company PPC Scope and online course Sponsored Products Academy. Brian has been selling online for a number of years now and has really found his stride on Amazon. On today’s episode, Brian talks about his selling background and explains why he dove into PPC advertising. This is a really meaty episode and there is a lot of information crammed into it.
If you are an established Amazon seller or just getting started this episode will offer some golden advice to make your business grow.
Here’s what we covered in today’s episode:
- How Brian and I met.
- Brian’s long business journey.
- How Brian learned PPC advertising.
- The importance of adapting in business.
- The most effective way to use PPC advertising on Amazon.
- The biggest mistakes sellers make in PPC advertising.
- How to use your PPC knowledge off-Amazon.
- Where Amazon is heading in their PPC advertising evolution, in Brian’s opinion.
If you are wanting to get started in PPC advertising on Amazon, start with Brian’s Facebook group called Amazon PPC Troubleshooting. Then check out his software PPC Scope and sign up for his course called Sponsored Products Academy. Let Brian show you the most effective way to use this valuable tool!
Resources Mentioned Today:
If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast you can now email us directly at ecomcrew.com! Just send those emails to [email protected]. Also, we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
Full Audio Transcript
Mike: This is Mike, and welcome to this edition of the EcomCrew Podcast. I’m not sure exactly what episode this is going to be, because this is going to be a pre-recorded interview that I’m going to be doing with Brian Johnson. So I’ll be bringing him on in just a little bit here.
And I’ve been doing some pre-recorded interviews because I’m going to be doing the trip to China, and some other traveling. It’s always good to have these kind of handy so I anticipate this to go out sometime in October or November. But we’ll see kind of where it lands, there’s a couple of opportunities of doing it in September as well.
So I apologize for not having the exact episode yet, but we’ll definitely get that added to the show notes and everything. And like I said, this is going to be an interview with Brian Johnson. Brian’s a friend of mine that I met at one of the speaking engagements that I’ve done, just like a really well known guy in the industry. If you haven’t checked out his stuff yet, you can find him at sponsoredproductsacademy.com.
But the way that I knew him from even before I met him in person was through PPC Scope, which is just a great piece of software to use for analyzing your Amazon PPC campaigns. And one thing that I definitely realized before using the software and after using the software is just how much wasteful spending we had in PPC. And I’m really excited to talk to Brian today about Amazon PPC.
So if you’re selling on Amazon, this is going to be a really good podcast for you. I encourage you to take notes, and go back and review this episode. Brian has just an absolute wealth of knowledge, and I’m excited to have him on the show today. So without any further ado, let me bring on Brian Johnson, and let’s chat with him here for probably about a half hour and see what’s going on in Amazon PPC land. So Brian welcome to the show.
Brian: Hey Mike, how’s it going, glad to be here.
Mike: Definitely, I appreciate you taking the time out to do this today. We were just chatting before recording the episode and it turns out you’re getting ready to do a move. So you probably got boxes everywhere, and I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me today.
Brian: Yeah, there’s always a fun adventure for our family when they have got to pick up everything and transfer to someplace else. So it’s a good way to consolidate your lifestyle also.
Mike: So the podcast mic obviously isn’t in a box, so that’s good, so we’re able to do that today. So yeah, I mean to get started, I kind of get a little introduction here of you and the background that I know of you. But maybe you can take a couple minutes here just real quick, and people that don’t know who you are just kind of get some background and who you are, and how you came to be kind of this Amazon PPC expert.
Brian: Okay. Well, certainly from a business standpoint is I’ve always been rather a serial entrepreneur throughout my life. I did have a corporate career a couple of different times prior to all this, primarily working in the IT, the technology side, software development, software management, that type of thing for some larger companies here in the United States. And then switched over to – gosh, man it’s been close to I guess like nine or ten years now. I guess it is about ten years now.
I switched over and started selling full time on eBay. And did pretty well on eBay, primarily in the category of selling products as far as like banking equipment, like money counters, coin sorters, counterfeit detectors, that kind of stuff. And so essentially I was a dropship reseller ultimately on there, where I sold on eBay as well as on my own e-commerce sites, and had actually even tried Amazon the early days, completely failed based off of that product and my knowledge level at the time.
And so I didn’t pursue it any further until I was pulled back in by another friend of mine who said, hey you know I’m killing it on Amazon. I dismissed it back then. That was probably three or four years ago. But then I finally actually joined — kind of joined the following during the Amazing Selling Machine two launch a few years ago.
Mike: Interesting, so your background is somewhat similar to me. I was also an eBay power seller back in the day in the 90s. And it’s funny how many e-commerce people you talk to that kind of take the same path. And I also, my initial experience with Amazon was poor. I kind of dismissed it as well, and then some really lucky things kind of came together to bring us on to that platform, and it’s definitely been a huge success for us.
Yeah, so I mean, how did you get into actually doing PPC Scope then, and the Sponsored Products Academy stuff? Obviously you were selling on Amazon for a while, and was it something that was kind of just came out of a need for yourself to start with? It seems like that’s how a lot of these guys get these tools going.
Brian: Sort of. So, I launched my first few products and immediately like my first probably two or three products — I don’t sell anymore those, though all three of those essentially failed. The first one actually it turns out because it was Jason Pragalin [ph], if you are familiar with him. He was actually speaking at one of the early ASM conferences, and he was talking about you know like, oh here’s a bunch of great product opportunities.
And sure enough, up on the slide in front of a 1,000 competing sellers, he shows my direct competitor for my product. And within a month I had 30 new competitors. And so because I tried the aspect of out innovating and adding in I’m going to add in a cleaning brush to this kitchen utensil and everything. And I pivoted from there, and had some extended success, but then everybody adapted and caught up to that as well.
So it’s one of the things I learned early on is A, it doesn’t matter if you’re first. It doesn’t matter if you adapt first, it’s about how quickly you keep that pace going and adapt and learn from what’s going on in the marketplace. You can’t simply just sit on a product and say, okay I’m here, now I get to enjoy the fruits of it. It’s more of a case, you’ve got to constantly fight to make sure that you’re growing and adapting and looking for new opportunities, because this opportunity could dry up pretty quickly.
So I had gone through a few products and started building up a couple of partnerships for selling in a line of supplements, like different types of supplements. I wasn’t on a specific one, which is a very competitive market. So I really got — fortunately I got beat up in that field, in that product niche so that I had to learn a lot including advertising. And so I started putting together some of the advertising, and I actually started doing consulting for a couple of friends of mine who said, oh you’re selling on Amazon now, what can you tell us about it? And started helping them, end-to-end, and product creation, listing optimization, everything.
And it kept on coming back to, okay, what do I need to do in order to figure out how to target that audience, how to launch the product, how to give visibility, kept on coming back to advertising. And so over a period of about a year, because I kept on coming back to advertising, I’m like, okay, nobody is teaching me what I need to know on this, nobody’s really has much on this, I need to figure this out on my own. And so I did.
I put in just an insane amount of hours and months trying to reverse engineer and test it, and run experiments, and test my hypothesis and all this kind of stuff, all this geek stuff basically until I really had my head around it. And by the time I looked up from that, all of a sudden there was a marketable set of knowledge. And so I said, well where can I take this next?
Mike: Very cool. So it sounds like you’ve been doing it for about three years. I mean I guess my first question I think I’m really interested in here is, where have you seen Amazon changing over the last three years? I mean Amazon’s obviously one of these living, breathing platforms, nothing ever stays the same. What has been the biggest things you’ve seen change over the last three years?
Brian: I think part of it has to do with they’re growing into their own. I think a lot of sellers, a lot of buyers look at Amazon and say, wow this huge, powerful, mega company that has everything together. And of course anybody who’s sold on Amazon knows that’s far from the truth. If you go through seller the support or technology, you know pretty quickly there’s a lot of weaknesses in there. And so, one of the things that we certainly see from the sponsored products and the AMS advertising standpoint that I’ve certainly observed over the past three years I suppose now, is they’re constantly evolving in their technology and trying to get — the data is more real time so that their algorithms run more reliably, both their organic algorithm as well as their sponsored algorithm.
And so they continue to introduce new features based off of what they’ve learned from other PPC platforms such as like AdWords and Facebook and such. So I definitely see the technology is continuing to get better as they add in new features. Sometimes they’re a bit slow to adopt, but in comparison to how many years it took something like a platform like AdWords to develop all their feature set, they really are moving faster than AdWords did for instance. They just don’t have the same scale, the same size as AdWords does.
Mike: Got you, got you. So, I mean one of the things we love to do on the podcast is give people actionable advice. So I want to kind of really start to dig in here. And we have a wide breadth of people here. Some of them I think are just kind of getting started, some are more experts. I’m going to ask questions from both ends of the spectrum. But if people who are just kind of getting started, what would you say are the key things that people really need to be focusing on and addressing and thinking about before getting started with Amazon PPC?
Brian: This is a common, this is — it’s kind of a common scenario, common question that you’re talking about. It usually has to do where sellers come in and they just don’t understand, they’re under this belief that they can simply just turn on advertising and those will suddenly get sales, and they’re suddenly going to rank on page one. And unfortunately it gets perpetuated by other sellers that maybe who are teaching the incorrect things. I would say one of the key things that you have to know as an advertiser is what your objective is, why are you using the advertising?
I have a set of advertising objectives that I frequently teach, and the common ones on that include things like, okay I’m trying to launch a product. And therefore what do I need to do through advertising in order to help with my product launch increase the relative sales velocity so that I can show up higher on the organic search results. Just try to have more visibility, get my ad in front of more shoppers because organically I’m sitting down on page 20 right now for instance. And so they need to be able to show up on page one or two somehow, advertising is going to help with that.
But a lot of times sellers look at it and say, oh this is just a cost center, it’s always going to be a cost center, I’m always going to have to just spend a bunch of money and lose a bunch of money in order to run my business, because that’s the game. And I disagree with that. I am the first to be a proponent of the sponsored products and AMS advertising platforms, but use it for a specific purpose.
And the big ones that I usually see on that is launch a product, use it to launch a product temporarily for the first couple of weeks, then figure out who your target audience is. Most of us as sellers don’t really know who the audience is for the products. We source and we sell products based off typically product opportunity not because we have a particular passion about the product.
And then third is once we’ve identified the search terminology that is bringing in the traffic, that’s bringing in those shoppers onto our product listing and actually converting, then we improve the relevance of the content of our product listing so that we can now be more relevant to both the organic and sponsored algorithms so that our listing will actually show up higher in any search results, not simply just because our ad is showing.
After that you can get rid of advertising technically or shrink it down so that you’re just breaking even or making a profit. But really understanding what your intent is behind the advertising, and really knowing how to identify your target audience, those are critical.
Mike: Yeah, I totally agree. And I mean you just — like you have a bunch of stuff there. So I mean if you’re getting started in all of this, and your head is probably spinning. I mean where’s like the best place for somebody to get started just to find like the basic information. Let’s say they’re launching a brand new product.
That’s a very standard scenario; people have a new product to launch, and everyone out there is trying to develop new products. And they want to get started with Amazon PPC, be more sophisticated with what they’re doing with Amazon PPC. Where do they start? Are there any resources or guides or anything that — I know you also have an academy, we can talk about that here in a bit as well. But where do you get started, like where do people go?
Brian: Yeah, and obviously this is not to pitch any product or service or anything like that that I have obviously. But obviously I created these things because people keep asking. And part of that has to do with like for instance some of the free resources that are available of course are on — I’ve got a Facebook group called Amazon PPC troubleshooting.
And in there we’re constantly having discussions. We have monthly webinars, there’s also guides that are in there, frequently asked questions, and guides as far as getting started, how to create your essential basic campaign structure, basic or proper campaign structure, so that you can again focus in on that advertising objective of launching a product and really understanding who your target audience is.
That’s probably the most critical thing that I’m going to hammer into anybody who’s starting to sell or even experienced people who are selling on Amazon, is know what your objective is, know what you’re trying to get out of the advertising at this particular moment in time. But yeah, the free guides of course, the free guide that’s in the PPC troubleshooting group. Of course those who are using the software or are members of my training academy, obviously they’re going to have more advanced training. But for the basics, get it for free right from the Facebook group.
Mike: And we’ll throw out a link to that in the show notes, but it’s Facebook.com/groups/AmazonPPC. That’s Facebook.com/groups/AmazonPPC, and again will include a link to that in the show notes. And as Brian said, it’s a free resource, definitely check that out. So, I mean like flipping the coin on the other side here, we’re talking about beginners, what about from an expert perspective. Let’s say you’re an experienced seller, you’ve been doing PPC for a while, or you’re trying to squeeze a little bit more out of it or make it more profitable, what’s a good place to go for that type of info?
Brian: Yeah, I would say that this has to do with one of the things that experienced sellers run into. And this is something I have to constantly challenge myself on is just going with the preconceived notions that I’ve always had. This is the way that it’s always worked. And we really have to challenge that periodically because Amazon continues to adapt their technology the way that they — especially when it comes to relevance. And they’ve gotten a lot tighter especially in the past year as far as really requiring us as sellers to focus in on a very specific targeted audience.
We can use their advertising. It’s the only way that Amazon is really going to tell us internally to Amazon which are the search terms that shoppers are using to find and convert to our products that we can then focus our product listing and focus on product content or title or image or message at a smaller niche audience, and try to rank high and really own that smaller audience, and then build off of that.
So as opposed to simply just collecting information and really understanding who your audience is for a beginner seller, the more experienced seller needs to rethink, okay am I still using the advertising, or have I just spent — continually spending money on this month after month? And have I already collected all the information that I need from this advertising that I can now put into practice, that I can actually apply it to targeting that audience, with updating my content and then really just shrinking down what I need to do as far as my advertising.
You don’t need to continue to just run advertising just month after month forever. Use it for a specific goal, for a specific objective, and then be done with it.
Mike: And there’s always like you hear different strategies in the community there. I mean for us we don’t just eliminate PPC. Maybe we will do what you’re kind of talking about when we have a strategy of launching a product, we run it at a negative to start with. But my general feeling has been to continue to get the PPC sales. I feel like those extra sales help with my organic rankings and BSR. Do you think that’s a fair assessment in today’s PPC world? Do you think that it’s just totally not necessary anymore?
Brian: I think it’s probably an overstatement in general, because what sellers want to have is kind of the wishful thinking is that I would like to be able to turn on PPC advertising and target two or three very high converting keywords, and hope that that’s going to bring me up to page one organically. The reality on that is that, yes it’s going to help a little bit, but probably not as much as people hope it does.
It’s one of the things where if you sell an additional 100 units a month off of a single keyword, then yes that’s likely to improve your organic search position because you’re able to move ahead of a competitor who’s not using advertising, or is not moving as many units per day. And therefore you can move in front of that next competitor who simply is just not moving enough units per day compared to you. But simply just turning on advertising and overspending is not going to get you on page one except in very noncompetitive terms.
Mike: And I think that from what I understand with Amazon, they’re looking at the conversion rates. If you’re bidding on a very competitive keyword, people are clicking through and not actually purchasing, I think that probably actually hurts you more than helps you. Do you think that’s fair as well?
Brian: Well, so you’ve got two, that’s where you start splitting into two different algorithms. So the organic algorithm, yes I completely agree with you on that. The relative sales velocity and your conversion, your ability to convert to a product is key. I want the key metrics in the organic search results, in the position in the organic search results. From the sponsor standpoint, conversion rate actually becomes only a tiebreaker at the very end.
Primarily what they’re looking for is the likelihood; they’re rewarding advertisers who are able to set up campaigns that are highly optimized to get relevance with the shopper. And we measure that through the average click through rate. So having a very high average click through rate of the campaign level is definitely going to help us for our ad to show better among the sponsored algorithm. And so only in the situation — there’s several other metrics that are involved with the ad auction that I teach about.
But the conversion rate actually only comes in as a last tiebreaker when it comes to sponsored. It’s high from priority from organic, but very low priority when it comes to sponsored.
Mike: Gosh, that makes perfect sense. So the thing I really want to talk to you about, that I’m really curious, I mean you’re in an amazing position where through Sponsored Products Academy and PPC Scope, and your agency where you’re doing consulting for people that you probably see hundreds if not thousands of different sellers’ ad campaigns. What do you see as like the biggest mistake that sellers are making out there through all that, that people can do that’s kind of like low hanging fruit in the opposite direction, things you can do to do triage on your Amazon PPC campaign and make them better?
Brian: So, I mean there’s a couple of things on that. One is you see I kind have to laugh at some of the comments that are thrown out sometimes as far as like, oh advertising doesn’t work, or whatever the case. And usually it’s on a case by case basis. Really, there’s a couple of things that we look for that determine as far as whether or not somebody is successful with our advertising.
Of course, as I mentioned before, knowing why are you using it, what your objective is, and then using it for that objective, and then moving on to a new objective or just stopping so you’re not just stuck in the same advertising objective forever. But then two is, understand that the advertising is going to work a lot better if you have a conversion rate that is 10% for instance or higher. If you’re down below 5% as a conversion rate, you’re probably always going to be struggling with your advertising, because the cost is just too high on a cost per click basis to really justify a very low conversion or a very low margin product.
And so in situations like that, you really have to get in there quickly, identify who your target audience is, then get out because otherwise you’re just going to be blowing money forever. Now, if you’ve got high conversion rates, if you’ve got conversion rates in the 20% range organically, I’d be dumping money into advertising because you’re going to get your money back out of it with profit. It’s going to be more successful for you.
Ultimately when people, when sellers — I’ve heard it being oversimplified to where somebody has posted something or said something on a podcast and said, oh well, Amazon advertising is really actually, it’s pretty simple. All you need is I can get a single digit ACOS, A-C-O-S every day. Well, yes you can do that simply by bidding low enough. So the result is if you bid low enough, you will be profitable in your advertising. You won’t get very many sales, but if you bid 15 cents across the board, yeah you’re going to be profitable.
Mike: Yeah, you might get one sale a month, but that’s okay.
Brian: Yeah exactly. So I mean that is not really — most of us are not looking to simply just be profitable. Usually it’s a lot more complex than that, because we’re trying to actually grow our business not just say, hey I’ve got a single digit ACOS.
Mike: Excellent, so I guess that the follow-up question that’s on the other end of the spectrum be is what is the best way to like increase profitability in Amazon PPC? I mean if you could do one, two, or three things whatever it is off the top of your head, what are like a couple actionable things people can be looking at, at their Amazon PPC campaigns to just get more probability out of them?
Brian: Yeah, so the first thing I usually say is get your campaign structure set up correctly. Either adapt what you have or get it to the point, or set it up correctly in the first place so that you — I commonly teach to segment your advertising. In other words break up each of your products into a different ad group set. And when I say ad group set, I’m suggesting that you create an ad group for each keyword match type, exact match, phrase match, broad match. So that’s three ad groups, that’ll be an ad group set for each SKU.
Now, if they’re all targeting the same audience, you can keep all these SKUs under the same ad campaign, because they are targeting the same audience. But I’ve got all my keywords typically duplicated across all these different ad groups. So what it helps me to do is to really understand the search terminology that shoppers are using and to which specific product variation is actually getting this search which is actually converting, and in which match types, so that I can then tune in or maximize the profitability and the performance of each keyword for each product.
So it really kind of goes into that deeper analysis is one of the reasons why we developed software to make that a lot easier to do than simply just looking at spreadsheets or pivot tables or something like that. But really focusing in on those search terms, and getting search terms optimized first, and then worry about — and then move on to adjusting keywords according to profitability per product. And there’s some calculations that are made on that.
That’s another area where software makes it much easier because it can automatically calculate, here’s the bid that is considered profitable for this SKU or for this product in this advertising environment. You don’t have to do it by hand for every single keyword, it just tells you.
Mike: Yeah, I mean I encourage everyone that’s listening to this, you’re probably, your head is probably spinning more about the different terms and things that Brian was just talking about here over the last two to three minutes, whatever it’s been. I encourage you just to listen back to this part over and over again. I can tell you that these are things that we weren’t doing from personal experience in the beginning.
I think just like a lot of people you get on Amazon PPC, the platform is counterintuitive. It looks like you’re almost logging into an AS400. I mean it’s just like really old poorly laid out, and you don’t really know what you’re doing. And we just threw up products the best we could in auto targeting and everything, and didn’t have things broken out into different ad sets and by product and all this stuff, and also by exact and broad and phrase.
And since we’ve done that after following your advice from just the stuff that you guys have put out there, I mean what a dramatic improvement that we’ve seen from doing that. It’s a lot more tedious, and there’s just a lot more work especially if you are not using software as Brian mentioned. Something like PPC Scope makes this like just so much easier, but the results are dramatic. I mean it’s just — so I encourage you again, go back, listen to this part. It’s only a 30 minute podcast.
I still got a couple more questions I want to ask Brian. I mean just listen to that stuff over and over again. It’s definitely really good stuff. So I definitely appreciate that advice. The next thing I want to talk about, I’m just really curious as this is something we’ve been doing, and I don’t know if you’re the right person to ask this or not. So, I apologize in advance if not, but what else have you guys been doing beyond sponsored product ads either on or especially off Amazon to help promote products and start to move the needle that way?
Brian: Well, so certainly as depending on how competitive the niche is, some of these things require you, you have to move beyond simply just one method or one technique, right? So sponsored ads for instance, we certainly use the Amazon Marketing Services, headline search ads, the product display ads. We supplement that in order to — depending on the situation or the technique which we’re trying to employ.
We’ll put those — we’ll run the headline search which is that banner ad that runs along the top. We will run the product display ads which are the ads that kind of run on underneath the add to cart button on a competitor’s product listing. Headline search has also been introduced within seller central, so it’s available for more sellers. They’re also introducing more things as far as like ad now. So there’s still a lot of opportunity, there are several opportunities there still on Amazon.
Going beyond Amazon outside, ultimately we’re always trying to figure out a way to get better or more and better reviews to increase that social proof, increase the conversion rates. We typically are using some kind of a launch service like a launch giveaway service in order to either accelerate the relative sales velocity of a new product that we launch, or to improve upon where we’re at just prior to a big holiday selling season for instance. Certainly, one of things is going to be extraordinarily competitive. This Christmas season is going to be in toys category now that Toys R Us has announced that they’re probably going to fold prior to the Christmas season.
Mike: So the next thing I really want to ask you, and I’m not sure if you’re the exact right person to talk to about this. I know you’re really focused on PPC, but what else do you see in your opinion that you need to be doing beyond just straight up Amazon PPC, either on or off Amazon? There is a lot of stuff obviously people are doing these days both on Amazon. Obviously you have the low hanging fruit products sponsored ads and headline search. But over and above that, what about things that are off site as well?
Brian: Sure absolutely. So yeah I mean I am realistic in the fact that I know that sponsored ads are not going to be the perfect solve for everything. It’s a great way to know your audience; it’s a great way to test the market on Amazon. But any time you run into any kind of competition in a product niche, you got to go beyond that.
So what I typically do is I learn from the advertising. I look at who my target audience is, which was the search terminology that is converting best through the advertising, and then I’ll take that off of Amazon, and I’ll use things like some kind of promotional giveaway service like a viral launch giveaway type service in order to test that to see how high can I get organically, because generally those are designed not for reviews necessarily but to really boost your relative sales velocity.
And one of the things I like to do preferably before the busy holiday season arrives is to run a promotion on one of these giveaway services for two or three of my top converting search terms that I found through advertising, and see, can I — if I have enough sales velocity, or how much sales velocity do I need to achieve in order to get that high organic position? How to get top half of page one position, how many units do I need to move and how far away am I from where I’m at right now? If I need to give away 400 units in a week in order to get on to page one, that’s probably not the best search term to go after, just because of competition levels, unless you’re going to just do perpetual giveaway services or external Facebook advertising to your own email collection funnel or something like that.
What I would probably recommend doing is not taking the shortcut of the black hat or the gray hat SEO services, because I think those are going to be short term. And if you don’t have social proof on those of course those are going to be obvious even if you’re on page one, you’re still not going to convert like you think you might. But what I definitely like to do is use what I learned from the advertising. What’s my top converting search terms tested out in some kind of accelerated sales velocity service like a launch service, and see, okay can I get on to page one? Can I get into position number one for a search term that I know for sure converts really well for my product from my advertising?
And if I can do that, then I know that when I really need to, like say right in the middle of a week before Cyber Monday or something like that, when I really need to turn that on, I know that it’s actually going to work. I’m not just throwing my money away when I really need to use it later on. So I use the advertising as a tool to educate me as far as what else do I need to do in order to really target that audience.
Mike: Makes a lot of sense. And just to throw a plug in for a mutual friend of ours like Greg Mercer, one of those services you can use is Jump Send. I’ve used it with some success, and you can check them out at jumpsend.com. So we’re kind of running out of time here unfortunately. But like I said I’d love to have you on for multiple 30 minute episodes, but we’re kind of used up the time. I don’t want to be disrespectful.
So I just want to ask one last question, I’m kind of curious. Where do you see Amazon advertising kind of going in the future here? I’m just kind of curious what your – and no one has a crystal ball obviously, but over the next three to six or 12 months, where do you see things kind of going towards?
Brian: Well, so certainly this is the kind of stuff that I like to geek out on, because this is stuff that we from a software solution standpoint. We try to look a year out as far as where things are going, and try to figure out, where do we need to be in order to get there and be ahead of competition on that? We’ve done a pretty good job certainly from software tools in this space, all of us are getting into play now where we’re doing some automated tasks just to take that off of the seller, so that the basic optimization and that adjustment that kind of stuff, all that stuff is going to be automated.
That’s where the software industry is going now. Where it’s going on Amazon is they’re going to have a lot more of their predictive analytics. In other words, right now they are already, and they’ve been doing this for a couple years now, they’re already tracking not only us as sellers as far as how our products sell on Amazon, but of course they’re tracking the buyer. It’s an ecommerce platform after all.
And they track by our behavior, and they make certain predictions throughout when a shopper is looking on Amazon. And they try to – they’ll change the content, not only the organic content but also the advertising content. They’ll change that based off of where they think the shopper is in relation to the decision, basically the purchase decision making stage. So in other words they’re looking for what is the likelihood that they’re actually going to buy today for the product that they’re searching for right now?
And they’ll change the content, both the organic content as well as the advertising ads that show up based off of how sure they are, the confidence that they have that that shopper is going to convert right now for the product that is most relevant to the search term that they’re currently searching for. And so when they see — well that’s going to play in a lot more, and it’s going to require us as advertisers to really again know who our target audience is, know what search terms are performing the best, so that we can put our ads in the right place at the right time.
Amazon is also expected to increase their technology from the standpoint of reducing the data lag that we have that is common within sponsored ads advertising, as well as so that we can do more real time adjustments. Some of these features that we might see on other larger platforms like AdWords or Facebook or Bing, where you have things like day parting, which is where you can adjust your bids or run your ads on or off at different times during the day. Right now that’s not practical on Amazon, because the data doesn’t support it. It’s not fast enough for us.
There’s a number of other features that they’re working on that rely on faster more immediate data, more predictive where we can use predictive models to the point — one of the areas that my team and I are looking into is machine learning. Machine learning is the precursor to artificial intelligence. Now I’m not saying that we’re going after artificial intelligence, because that’s a little bit too aggressive for this kind of platform. However, we can use machine learning in order to identify patterns and research predictive behavior when it comes to advertising. That’s the direction that we’ve been developing on, and we hope to run that, to roll those kind of things out.
But we see where Amazon is already in that space. They are already running machine learning. These are all areas that are going to explode the software solution tools, automation, and predictive analysis in the next coming years.
Mike: Yeah, I think the way to sum that up is the only thing that’s constant is change, and be prepared for a bunch of new so — I mean I didn’t even think about all that stuff. So it’s definitely exciting and kind of crazy all wrapped up, and I want to be thinking about that stuff coming down the pipeline. Yeah man, I really appreciate you coming on the show today. Obviously you have a bunch of places people can find you. Let’s take just a couple of minutes real quick and plug your stuff man. Tell us where people can find you, what the different services you have are, if they want to contact you via email or the Twitters or whatever, just throw all that stuff out there for people to find you.
Brian: So I would say probably the easiest ways to get hold of me, first and foremost would be, you can often find me, and you can get a good response from me on my — the large, the Facebook group, the Amazon PPC troubleshooting Facebook group. So I think we’re up in the 11,000, 12,000 member range now. And so it’s a pretty active community, and I get a chance to get involved there as well. There’s free guides and certainly discussion and post your question. And we’re just focused strictly just on Amazon advertising. Not everything else, just Amazon advertising. So it’s kind of niche as far as the topic goes.
Certainly if you’re not already, if you still use the spreadsheets, or if you’ve used other tools that just didn’t quite live up to what you need, certainly check out PPC Scope out. That software has been around for over two years now. And so we obviously we’ve advanced it quite a bit in the last two years. And so we’re really proud as far as some of the features that we’ve rolled out just even in the last two or three months have been incredible. Certainly, obviously we ran through a lot of topics very quickly here, and hopefully that kind of opens up the eyes to a lot of new sellers who realize, wow there’s a lot more advertising than they expect, or even experienced sellers who maybe oversimplify things.
I’ve got the course Sponsored Products Academy, and that one is over, I think it’s like 15, 16 hours of instruction plus guides, workflows, all that kind of stuff that goes into that, teaching how to really just get your head around advertising on Amazon, sponsored ads, AMS, the works, and so very proud of that. We’re actually getting ready to do another launch here I think in the next couple of weeks in fact. I hope to check with my business partners on that one, but that will certainly be available. That’s probably — those are my big three. I don’t want to go beyond that. Those are my big three, the Facebook group, the software and then of course my training academy.
Mike: Cool. I appreciate man. If you guys ever see Brian also out speaking at any of these events, I definitely encourage you to walk up to him and say hi. He’s a big dude; he’s probably intimidating to a lot of people, some of you who are like my size…
Brian: 9 feet tall.
Mike: And he’s tall, he looks like a hammer. He’s like the guy [inaudible] commercials without all the hair. But definitely a friendly and fun guy and I definitely appreciate you coming on the podcast. Man it’s been a pleasure, and best of luck with the move.
Brian: Thank you so much Mike, it’s been a pleasure being here.
Mike: Thanks a lot, take it easy.
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