Season 1, Episode 86

New Years Resolutions: Get Your Amazon Ads Ready for 2023 with Adam Mellott from BetterAMS

As the Holidays quickly approach, it’s time to start gearing up your ads for 2023. In this episode we talk with Adam Mellott on what to expect and creating a successful ad strategy on Amazon this Q4 going into Q1 so you aren’t scrambling come January.

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:07] Chris: Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Seller Performance Solutions. I’m Chris McCabe. I’m here with Leah McHugh. 

[00:00:15] Leah: Hello. 

[00:00:15] Chris: And today our guest is Adam Mellott from BetterAMS.

Hi. How are you doing, Adam?

[00:00:21] Adam: I am good guys. Leah, Chris, great to be here. How are you? 

[00:00:25] Chris: Good to see you again. Haven’t seen you since our conference in Oregon, but I’m sure we’ll all gather again in Oregon very soon.

[00:00:33] Adam: Yes, yes. Hopefully in the new year. 

[00:00:35] Chris: Speaking of the new year, this is the time of year. There’s my transition where people are starting to see traffic to the ads winding down for Q4 and maybe turning their attention in the near future to Q1, as we all will. So maybe we could start with kind of how that downward trend progresses for the rest of this month, December, and then what you see people planning for, for January, just generally speaking.

[00:01:01] Adam: Yeah, yeah. Good question. So I think at this point, keeping a close eye on that Christmas shipping window’s gonna be really important as we approach december 22nd, December 23rd. If you’re anything like me, you have procrastinated a ton of Christmas shopping, so you’ll need to get back on Amazon and, and start doing some searching.

And what we’re seeing now is a lot of those products are going to be delivered after Christmas. So what we’re seeing is a relatively high click-through rate and conversion rate drop off. So just being aware of that shipping window, pulling back ads, as soon as you see, products delivering after Christmas is gonna be key.

[00:01:37] Leah: And Amazon, I’ve noticed, is also already kind of behind on their own shipping times. We were in a secret Santa the other day and everybody was supposed to open their presents on the video and I think like one person had actually received it, even though it all been shipped on time. So just also something to keep in mind, even Amazon’s timelines aren’t necessarily accurate at this point. 

[00:01:59] Chris: Do you see people who are so busy with other stuff that they kind of forget about this and they neglect to keep an eye on it and then their spend doesn’t make sense or reconcile with the date on the calendar? Is that common or is that more of an outlier?

[00:02:16] Adam: I would say as long as you have proper eyes in the account, it would be more of an outlier. But on a product level, it’s certainly something that we’re seeing. I know this year it’s really nice that Amazon had put in that arrives before Christmas label on product listings.

 And what we’re seeing now is just occasional products that aren’t gonna be delivered after Christmas that we are having to pull back on for that reason.

[00:02:37] Leah: We had also talked about people maybe forgetting to remove some of their crisp Christmas verbiage in their ads.

[00:02:44] Adam: Yes. 

[00:02:45] Leah: What are the dates for that again? 

[00:02:48] Adam: I don’t have the hard dates here. But moving up to Christmas, you’re gonna wanna make sure that any advertisement that has holiday ad copy in it, whether it’s an advertising a deal, whether it’s advertising a Christmas gift, you wanna make sure that that fits within Amazon’s terms of service.

As far as dates go, there’s gonna be a small window where leading up to Christmas and directly after Christmas, you’re gonna have to change that ad copy. If it is holiday related or deal related, or your ads can be flagged and ultimately stop delivering. So just making sure that that holiday copy is wiped well within Amazon’s requested window prior to Q1 2023 is gonna be really important.

[00:03:31] Leah: Yeah, definitely. And also, I imagine Christmas verbiage in your ads probably stop working in January, so worth changing for that reason as well. 

[00:03:39] Adam: Yes, they do. I think it’s pretty simple, just to run through ad copy and, and find any Christmas related headlines. So definitely recommend getting that changed asap.

[00:03:49] Leah: Yeah, so we were talking before we started recording, but Chris and I really only see ads sides of things when people are having issues where their flags are being disproved usually because the product’s been incorrectly flagged as restricted. Is that something that you guys see a lot on the ads management side of things?

[00:04:07] Adam: You know, I would say yes. Recently quite a bit. Yeah. Uh, it’s interesting as well in the UK I know they’ve banned advertising for high sugar, high fats products. Is that something that you guys have dealt with on your end quite a bit over the last few months? 

[00:04:22] Leah: Yeah, interestingly, I mean, the people that have reached out to us haven’t been people that actually sell high sugar, high fats, because I think anybody selling those products was already aware of the change coming and they knew that they weren’t going to be able to advertise.

What we were seeing were people being incorrectly flagged as their product being high sugar, high fat, and so their ads were stopped, even though their product, in some cases, their product wasn’t even an edible product. It was just like a container or something totally unrelated. But it makes sense with the sorts of abuse we see around this.

It’s normally someone trying to get your listing flagged as adult or anything that would stop you from serving ads would is the abuse tactic that we tend to see. So it does make sense. 

[00:05:01] Chris: And sometimes the ad is restricted but the product isn’t restricted from sale. That was the interesting piece.

[00:05:06] Leah: That happens a lot actually. So defeats the purpose of the whole restricted product flag.

[00:05:13] Adam: Right, and on the ad side, that’s something where if we see a product listing still up and live, and then we see the ads not delivering. We can dive in on our end, but ultimately we need to go in and create a case with Amazon and kind of play the waiting game. Do you guys have recommendations or, or any quick fixes on, on that specific issue as far as ads being shut down? 

[00:05:36] Leah: Yeah, I think, I mean, certainly the easiest step if you have a strategic account manager or an ads manager that you’re working with, with Amazon, having them internally escalate it, it’s the easiest first step.

 If you don’t have that point of contact, I mean, certainly the first step should be opening a case with the advertising team. Generally speaking, they don’t give you a useful response. 

[00:05:56] Chris: Right. Copy and paste at that point. 

[00:05:58] Leah: But you can use that to then escalate the case to a manager to actually properly review it. But going through that first step and then saying, you’re incorrectly flagging this, your team is not reviewing it properly. We need somebody to actually review this properly. That’s usually the best way to go. And this week I worked on one where the ads team were basically like, you can never advertise this product.

 This is our final decision. No matter what you do or what else you send, you can’t. And then we escalated it and they were like, oh no, this is fine. Your ads are now live. 

[00:06:28] Chris: They love to say, this is our final decision. We’re never looking at this again. They send it for brand registry stuff, sometimes for IP infringement related stuff.

They’ve started sending it all over marketplace enforcement just to try to lessen the number of complaints or emails or appeals in the queues. 

[00:06:46] Leah: Well, and it’s an excuse not to reply again, right? This decision is final and we may not reply to future communications about it, right? It’s their excuse to not look at it again.

[00:06:55] Chris: Well, they’re trying to increase the odds that they meet their internal SLAs and their metrics by just discouraging. They do it with people who are fully suspended on their whole account too, as if people are going to be like, oh, all right, well I guess I just won’t write you anymore and that must drive you nuts Adam.

I mean, we’re used to the whole left hand doesn’t know what the right hand thing is doing, and I know a lot of sellers are used to that now when they weren’t before. And maybe you’re more used to it now, but does that kind of drive you crazy to the point where you’re just like, you know what, we need to bump this up to executive seller relations, or we need to like get some higher level management at Amazon involved because they’re just confused talking to each other, communicating inside with each other.

I know it doesn’t throw you off your game, but does that just kind of drive you crazy so that we can, you can complain to us as much as we can complain to you about it in the future? 

[00:07:47] Adam: You know, if you’ve been in Amazon ads, For any decent amount of time, then this is definitely an issue that you’ve dealt with on more than one occasion.

It definitely takes some patience when dealing with Amazon’s internal team. But it’s always great to have just those internal contacts with Amazon to reach out to and kind of try and get these things expedited. One thing I will say at this time of year, The last thing you want is for one of your listings or ads to be flagged and then not see it for three or four days. So at this point, you know, leading up to Christmas, when we have nine days, and let’s say the shipping window closes in roughly a week. You wanna make absolutely sure that that none of your products are being flagged or any of your listings are being shut down at this point in the year.

So just keeping a close eye on things, I would say multiple times a day and making sure everything is running smoothly is gonna be really imperative. 

[00:08:34] Leah: Yeah. Also, because if you do have any issues, Amazon’s teams are that much slower to respond this time of year, so it’ll take a lot longer to get it resolved than normal unfortunately.

[00:08:44] Chris: Yeah. And headcount wise, some people that have been working extra hours now Are given a little bit of a break after the holiday windows close for shipping, so they also might take longer to respond, not because they’re so furiously busy, but because there’s few of them doing fewer hours.

[00:09:03] Leah: I will say in terms of if you have an Amazon account manager, in my experience, they are far more incentivized to fix these issues than any of the other teams because their metrics are spend based. So, they do tend to be a lot more helpful than say, another Amazon team who’s only metrics or speed. So useful if you have those contacts, for sure. 

[00:09:24] Adam: On the ad side, it’s interesting that you said a lot of people within the next week we’ll be taking, kind of their holiday or seasonal break, right? It’s kind of the slower time.

But on the ad side of things, this is kind of where we need to pull back. So I think Amazon’s internal team knows that, or at least on the ads side knows that. And they know that advertisers are gonna be back in the ad console, pulling back budgets, adjusting bids shortly after Christmas. So, that’s a great recommendation.

You know, if you do need to open a case, definitely reach out to an internal contact should you have one. 

[00:09:53] Chris: For sure. I think ads managers and SAM’s, strategic account managers are getting used to a world where sellers know other ways to escalate things if they can’t push it through successfully or quickly, which is kind of what’s interesting to us, that it’s not just around ASIN reinstatement or account reinstatement anymore.

It’s troubleshooting of deals, teams, and ads and other things now, where people will say, oh, since our last call three weeks ago, I’ve been doing this to try to escalate it and get it pushed through. And sometimes the managers are like, oh, really? or they push on whichever type of manager to open an internal escalation for them because something’s stuck and they’re just getting the copy and paste responses over and over.

 There’s a lot more knowledge out there in the space that you can do these things. We’ll take some credit for spreading the word, but just troubleshooting that they’ve been doing on their own through articles or videos or whatnot. It’s become commonplace. Have you noticed this with people you’ve talked to in terms of just like instead of opening a case, they say, well, what about this? Or what about that? Like, trying to be more aggressive with it. 

[00:10:54] Adam: Yeah, I would say, there’s definitely more conversational approach around issues that that sellers are seeing on Amazon. LinkedIn is a great place to educate yourself on the platform and issues that, common issues that sellers and advertisers alike are facing.

So, honestly, establishing relationships within agencies, within Amazon and really utilizing the network that you leverage on LinkedIn is really, really beneficial. So that would be something that I would recommend starting sooner rather than later. 

[00:11:22] Leah: Yeah. I agree. I say regularly and I often use ads and what we do as an example of this, the benefit of having an agency even just for informational purposes is that you are seeing, and we’re seeing thousands of examples of what’s going on, on Amazon at any given moment. Whereas if you’re just your own seller on your own account, you’re really only seeing what’s happening on your account. So it’s a lot easier for agencies to see trends and see where things are going and make predictions and make decisions based on those predictions rather than somebody who’s only data is what’s happening on there account alone. Which is why I usually recommend that people work with an ad agency or an agency for what we do, because you really do need that knowledge in order to be successful with Amazon in general in terms of optimization, but also Amazon in terms of how things work. 

[00:12:12] Adam: And I think, you know, the industry is changing rapidly. It’s really important to keep a pulse on things nowadays. This isn’t Amazon of five years ago when everything was a lot simpler, so as things are changing rapidly, and as Amazonians are putting out content on LinkedIn, I think that is a great place to keep a pulse on everything.

[00:12:31] Leah: Yeah. Absolutely.

[00:12:33] Chris: And a lot of them feel more motivated to put that out there and they’re not as reigned in by the company. They’re willing to, and they’re able to post a bit more to educate than they were in the past where it was kind of like, don’t share anything, don’t say anything, now it’s like, loosened up a little bit because Amazon realizes finally, At least in certain ways, they can ease their pain by allowing more education to float around out there , and get kicked around and discussed. Because like you said on LinkedIn in particular, those poster are shared and people are reading that stuff wanna learn more about it. Probably the fact that Leah and I are reading more about it. I won’t speak for you, Leah, but I’m reading more about it than I did two, three years ago, just to stay up on it. So that means everyone, every consultant in any part of the Amazon space or community should be reading more about this, this topic as well.

[00:13:21] Adam: Yep. I couldn’t agree more. I think it is a multifaceted approach at this point to understand Amazon as a whole and it’s only becoming increasingly challenging as Amazon rolls out new updates and as the entire thing gets bigger. So I would agree. 

[00:13:37] Chris: Yeah. People can’t afford to not be in the know. So any parting words of wisdom for those who are turning the page to Q1 and beyond for 2023? No predictions. You don’t have to give us an actual prediction because that’s a bit cliche, but any final words for our audience before we wrap it? 

[00:13:56] Adam: Yeah. No predictions, definitely no predictions here, but I think heading into Q1, we’re gonna kind of see a slight shift, and I think people are to no surprise after gift buying season are gonna be more price conscious, and profitability focused, both on the consumer side and on the seller side.

So just ensuring that quote unquote bleeding in campaigns is cleaned up. Mm. Making sure that, again, holiday copy, aggressive budgets, things like that are kind of cranked down, heading into Q1 and just really capitalizing on what we know works well in Q1, the New Year, New Me crowd.

CBG brands always do pretty well here to start the new year. So capitalizing on what works historically, I think is, is step one. 

[00:14:37] Chris: Terrific. All right, Adam, from BetterAMS. Thank you for joining us. Best way for people to reach you if they have questions about this? 

[00:14:45] Adam: Email me at adam@betterams.com or feel free to look me up on LinkedIn. It is Adam Mellot. 

[00:14:51] Chris: Adam Mellot. All right. Thank you again, Adam. Thanks Leah, and we will catch you next time on Seller Performance Solutions. Have a good one. 

[00:14:58] Leah: Thanks, Chris. 

[00:14:58] Adam: It’s been a pleasure, guys.

Hosts & Guests

Chris McCabe

Leah McHugh

Adam Mellot

 Resources

BetterAMS.com

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