Sponsored Brands (Amazon Headline Search) Ads Campaign Setup Guide & Strategy

“Amazon headline search ads help you grow brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and promote products especially during the holiday season. HSAs are a high-impact advertising option designed to build brand recognition and help you sell more. Open to professional sellers who are enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, Headline Search Ads are placed prominently above search results on Amazon. This placement increases the chances your products will be seen by holiday shoppers, and it can help you drive traffic to your listings.” – As per Amazon.

Sponsored Brands/ Headline Search Ads Setup Guide

  • Log in to your seller central account
  • Click on create Campaign
  • You will see the option to create Sponsored Brands ads which were formerly called Headline search ads

Headline Search Ads option in Amazon

  • If you do not see the option to create this ad, then, maybe your seller central account is not eligible for this. Here is a link where you can check more about it.
  • Below is the settings screen of the Sponsored Brand Ads

Create sponsored brand ads settings

Before we go further into setting up the campaign, let us take a look into different campaign settings element of Headline Search ads or Sponsored brands ads. Some of the initial fields are self-evident. So, now we come to

Amazon Landing pages

There are two options as you can see above are for the landing pages. One option is for the Amazon store and another for the product list page.

Amazon store

If you advertising your brand as a whole, then you should select the Amazon store as the option. Let us say that your store also has some product categories, then, in that case, you can direct traffic directly to the sub-category pages. Once you select the option of Amazon store then you can select your store and then a category

New Product list page

This option is helpful particularly when you do not have any brand page but you can run sponsored brands ads. It is also helpful during the holiday seasons when you want to offer a special discount on some products. Once you decide to go ahead with the new product list page, then you need to select a maximum of three products.

You can also select products from other brands. Once three products are selected on the right, you can also preview the new product list page store by clicking on the preview link given at the bottom on the right-hand side.

Select Products for Products List Page on Amazon

Build Your Amazon creative for HSAs

You need the following set of items to build the creatives which show in form of a banner at different placement locations on the Amazon website.

  • Brand name
  • logo and,
  • Headline with a character limit of 50

Once you have had your creatives built, you can change the position of different products or even replace the ad products if you feel that you have a better product to advertise for. In the image below, you can see ad previews. There are basically two locations where brand sponsored ads or headline search ads appear.

  • Top of search and,
  • below the search (Other placements)

Build the creative

I have highlighted different action items with orange rectangles on where you can take some actions. Once you click “where will my ad show”, you can see the examples of placement of these ads. Also, you can see the placement of the ads in Top of search and other locations.

Headline Search Ads/ Branded Sponsored Ads Headline Best practices

  • Amazon will not approve the ads if you include any price or discounts. But, there are other ways to do it. Here is a screenshot of the error thrown by Amazon on including discount.

Error on including discountsError on including discounts

  • However, if you change the wording and remove some words like a discount, off, price etc, Amazon might approve it. You can include another alternate promotional statement which echoes the same things such as one shown below without any error

Promotion in the headline without error

  • You should keep the promotional statement at the beginning while you can also include some call to action texts to drive some clicks. Here is an example:

Headlines in HSAs

  • You can reflect the same sentiment on the first product as well by editing the product name.

HSA CPC Strategy: Keywords and Bids for Amazon HSAs

There are a lot of small elements in keywords and bids for Amazon headline search ads. Some of these elements are

  • bidding (automatic or manual)
  • keywords match type
  • Ads placement etc.

Let us have a look at how does this look like in the beginning. I have already marked the important action item fields with orange rectangles.

Keywords and bids on Amazon

Keywords Bidding tips

Keyword bidding is how much you are willing to pay per click for that target keyword.

  • You can start initially with low bidding and slowly raise up the bid on a daily basis if you are not seeing any impressions or clicks.
  • Once you will add the keywords in the list, by default, Amazon will try to bid the keywords for a pay per click value of what you have defined above. In this case, $1. However, if you have manually overridden the keyword bid, then that will override the default bidding.

Automatic bidding and placements

As you can read under Automatic bidding on the image above, it says “allow Amazon to automatically optimize bids for placements below the top of search”. The top of search ads has a higher cost per click compared to placement below the top of the search. In this case, Amazon is offering to optimize the cost per click for the placement of the ads below the top of Search.

Should you avoid placements below the top of search?

This is a matter of discussion. Since the Amazon ads are a cost per click based not cost per impression based, it does not hurt to get extra impressions even if someone is not clicking your ads in the placements below the top of the search.

But another argument can be if the budget is limited, instead of asking Amazon ad service engine to show ads at multiple locations, why not simply just ask for the top of the search ads. I prefer running ads on all the placements. If you want to remove the below placement locations, then you decrease the bid for all such locations to very low.

Change bid to remove below the search ads placements

  • First, turn off the automated bidding
  • Check “Set a custom bid adjustment”
  • Decrease the bid to 90% for placements below the top of Search.

Keywords for Headline search ads

As shown in the image above to above, there are three ways you can add keywords to your headline search ads campaigns

  • Use automated suggested keywords
  • Add keywords manually
  • Upload a list of keywords

Once added, you will see the keywords added below in the same section.


Sponsored Brand or Headline search ads keywords

I decided to add the Keyword section altogether because a lot of people ask about it. Thus, it deserves a dedicated discussion in itself. Out of the above listed three options to add keywords to a campaign, I would not recommend the suggested keywords which are automatically generated by the platform. Second and third options are essentially the same, the manual way.

Headline search ads keywords research

  • For the keyword research for HSAs, the easiest thing that you can is to rely on free online tools that offer amazon keyword research.  You can search and get a lot of them.
  • The second thing you can do is to go into your Amazon ads account and look at the keywords of the past campaigns regarding the same product. Pick some of the high performing keywords and target them in HSAs.
  • The third thing you can do is to look at the search terms section of your product inventory and utilize those search terms and cultivate new keywords around those keywords.
  • Last but not least, you can use Amazon search suggestions (auto-complete) and product categories name for targeting. Product categories appear in the left panel under the department.

Amazon Keyword suggestions

Keyword Match type for Amazon HSAs

Broad Match

Broad Match is the least specific and generally the cheapest match Amazon keyword match type. Broad match shows up for all kinds of things related to your keyword. This can mean synonyms, spellings, and variations of the keyword but not unrelated products.
Example: Targeting for sports shoes, might show ads for sports running shoes, black shoes, sports gear etc.

Phrase Match

Phrase Matches on Amazon are more specific than Broad Match. Setting your keyword to Phrase Match will allow you to rank for search term phrases the keyword.
Example: Sports shoes can appear for red sports shoes, black sports shoes, imported sports shoes, running sports shoes, sports shoes accessories etc.

Exact Match

Exact Match is the most expensive because it’s the most competitive. Exact Match will allow you to rank for the exact keyword you’re bidding on.

You can set the keywords match type under manual keyword sections

Keyword type

Which keyword match type to use on Amazon?

There are different keyword strategies that you can use here:

Broad term & narrow match type

If you are using broad terms in your keywords such as sports shoes, running shoes, jogging shoes then you should narrow down the match type to either phrase or exact match type.

Narrow terms & broad match type

If you are trying to stick to exact terms then gear up the match type to broad such as all the keywords should be a broad match – running shoes for men 13, black running shoes for men, comfortable running shoes for men

The middle approach

My approach is in the middle of the above two keyword targeting tactics. I like to use keywords with medium to high search volume and target them as phrase match such as running shoes for men, lightweight running shoes, athletic running shoes etc. But if it is brand awareness that you are doing then you can consider option 1.


Estimated Win rate – keyword bidding tips

Coming back to the campaign set up process, you will see the estimated win rate along with traffic in front of each keyword that you have targeted. Estimated win rate is “if you set a certain amount X for an Amazon keyword, you win a certain number of auctions”. It looks something like this:

keyword win rate

You can see above that each keyword is being shown with an estimated win rate based on the keyword bidding. You can select and drag the slider to find out the bidding amount for specific win rate range such 25-50% or 50-75% etc. Unless the keyword is not so important to you, you do not want to focus on increasing the estimated win rate for that particular keyword.

You can drag the slider above to see how much you need to pay in order to acquire a certain number of auctions. The slider looks like this:

Estimated Win rate slider in Amazon

As per my observation, here are some tips:

  • There is not much difference in the bidding for the estimated win rate between 0-25% to 25-50%.
  • Bidding goes much higher when you slide the win rate to above 90%.
  • You should only slide the win rate to more than 90% when you really want to rank for those keywords.

Once you have gone through this process, your campaign will go under review and finally start delivering. If you do not see much impressions or clicks initially, try the some or all of the followings:

  • Add more keywords to drive more impressions then only you will get clicks.
  • increase win rate bids to 50% and more on some keywords and monitor.
  • Change the keywords type to broad for some keywords and monitor.

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