As the number of retailer platforms and eCommerce campaigns increase, using eCommerce ad management becomes critical.
Advertising management has become increasingly complex as the industry grows. Efficiently managing the different ad types, destinations, and metrics can help your brand better manage ad spend and increase Share of Voice.
With increasing demands for eCommerce PPC and paid search advertising comes an increase in the number of eCommerce ad management tools available to you. In fact, this review of the best Amazon advertising tools analyzed over 40 Amazon PPC tools. How can you determine which advertising management solution is right for your needs?
What is eCommerce Ad Management?
eCommerce advertising management combines holistic performance data with recommended actions to enable you to track and optimize eCommerce campaigns, retailers platforms, and KPIs.
The main types of eCommerce ads include:
Boosted posts on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter targeted to specific user demographics or keywords.
Paid search ads on Google, Bing, and other search engines based on specific search queries.
Display ads appear on websites, apps, or social media through direct placement or retargeting.
Advertising directly on Amazon, Walmart or other eCommerce marketplaces through paid search, display ads, and sponsored products.
While each of these ad types should be part of your eCommerce PPC strategy, marketplace advertising offers several unique advantages. As consumers are visiting these retailers, they have high buying intent which can help increase conversion rates for your ads. Your marketplace ads can also leverage first-party data from the marketplace to tailor your ads to consumers based on specific buying behaviors and make it easier to track ROAS.
Retailer Platforms Overview and Comparison
In addition to managing multiple ad types, you may have several destinations for your eCommerce campaigns, including:
Selling products directly to consumers from your own web store.
Amazon, Walmart, Target, and other retailers that list and sell your products.
Additional eCommerce marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace, Google Shopping, and Instacart which facilitate transactions between consumers and other retailers.
Even after choosing to focus your eCommerce campaigns on marketplaces, you will have an endless number of retailers to choose from. Each marketplace has specific ad types, performance metrics, and - most importantly - consumer shopping behaviors. Here are a few retailer platforms you may want to focus on:
- Amazon: The largest eCommerce retailer in the US, with the most sophisticated ad platform of any retailer.
- Walmart: The largest retailer in the US with 11,500 stores and a growing eCommerce presence. Their ad platform covers both Walmart.com and physical stores.
- Instacart: This grocery delivery service and marketplace is growing extremely quickly, accelerated during 2020, and is changing how millions of consumers shop for groceries, pet supplies, and home goods.
- Criteo: An advertising company that provides online display advertisements on dozens of retailer websites who do not have their own ad platform. These include Target, Macy’s, and Home Depot.
Due to the varying ad types and the ways consumers interact with each of these marketplaces, your eCommerce PPC management needs to be tailored to each. For example, consumers are more likely to search for products when shopping on Walmart and Amazon. On Walmart, 90% of purchases begin with a search. For Amazon, 75-95% of consumers start their shopping journey by searching.
By contrast, consumers are more likely to browse for products when shopping on Instacart and Target. Only 45% of sales on Instacart and 40% of Target.com sales stem from the search functionality.
These varying advertising management demands highlight the need for a robust tool that can bring together various eCommerce campaigns into a single view.
Building Blocks of Automated Ad Management
Given the wide variety of channels, ad types, and retailers when it comes to eCommerce advertising, it’s no surprise that each automated ad management tool has unique capabilities. Some focus on giving marketers full control over a single campaign, while others are built to ingest data at scale to help manage the big picture. However, underpinning all of this functionality is a basis of automation and reporting, and a handful of key features serve as the building blocks for nearly every solution.
Programmatic Bid Management
The starting point for every ecommerce PPC management software is programmatic bid management, or simply, automatically buying ads in real-time based on which positions you’re targeting and how much you’re willing to pay. A good tool will take the automated bid management one step further and manage those variables against your ultimate goal, whether it be sales, efficiency, reach, or a combination, and give you the amount of control you need to customize individual bids when necessary. Because eCommerce advertising often involves hundreds of products across thousands of keywords and dozens of retailers, programmatic bid management saves marketers hours of time every week.
For example, Spectrum Brands had been doing a lot of work manually before using Pacvue as their eCommerce advertising management tool. They were able to scale up their campaigns by automating most of their bid management tasks and achieved 200% improvement in ROAS.
Automating your eCommerce ad campaigns does little good if you don’t know how well they’re performing. There’s a reason why the first screen you see when you log in to almost any advertising software is a dashboard of common reports. Common performance metrics to track include daily spend, impressions, click-through rate, cost-per-click, total cost, conversion rate, and sales. The best tools, though, will go beyond telling you what happened in the past and tell you what to do it about it now to improve performance for the future. Great reporting includes alerts when something unexpected happens, such as impressions dropping below their monthly average, and campaign recommendations that you can apply.
Programmatic bid management can help prioritize your ad targeting by raising and lowering bids until you hit your goal, but eCommerce is a constantly shifting landscape. To stay ahead of shifts in consumer demand, your competitors’ strategies, and even your own product line, you have to continuously update your targeting to find the best possible segments for your advertising. With all these variables, manual research just doesn’t cut it anymore. eCommerce ad management tools include features such as keyword research, Share of Voice tracking to measure your position in the market, and lookalike or similar audience suggestions to expand your reach.
For example, BetterBody Foods used a simple keyword research feature to uncover that keto-friendly terms and cooking oil terms had a lot of opportunity at an efficient price. They invested in these new keywords and improved ROAS on Instacart by 28%.
Bid management without budget management is like a dog that eats all the food in its bowl, not knowing when it will be refilled again. Not only does good budget management functionality ensure you’re actually staying within your daily, monthly, or quarterly budget, but it also helps you pace your budget accordingly, either by spreading daily caps out evenly over a timeframe or by employing predictive modeling to spend when your campaign will likely have the most demand. Good budget management also optimizes intraday spend via daypart bid boosting; that is, multiplying bids at certain hours of the day when conversions are high.