Has Amazon Broad Match Become Too Broad?

The bread and butter of Amazon Ads PPC has been keyword targeting, but recent trends have made us wonder if that dominance is coming to an end, particularly with broad match keywords. If you’re unfamiliar with the different match types, I would recommend reading What Are the Different Amazon Match Types and When To Use Them and then making your way back here.

Since coming down from the high that was the 2022 holiday shopping season on Amazon, we have been gearing our accounts for 2023. This includes diving deep into the keyword targeting of our campaigns, updating them for the 2023 trends, and adjusting for changes in market competition. As a product of that preparation, we have been noticing that Amazon Ads campaigns that have broad match keywords have become too broad. 

Our teams routinely audit the search term reports of keyword targeting campaigns and have found the need to add more negative keywords than ever before. And some of the negatives we are needing to add are…wild. For example, if I have the broad match keyword “hot glue gun,” Amazon now matches that to the search “gun.” While this falls in line with the definition of a broad match keyword, it’s literally the broadest of the definition. While we can understand this occurrence, there have been others that do not match the intention of broad match. See some examples below:

Before this shift, there was typically context behind what the Amazon algorithm would match as a search term to keywords. Now, it seems to run on the sole rule of “if the word is in the search, regardless of content, match it!” Since we have made this observation, we have seen campaigns that have healthy budgets run out mid-day, with the majority of the ad spend being attributed to broad match searches. Phrase match and exact match keywords sometimes barely get the opportunity to show despite having better contextual relevance, better conversion metrics, and better click-through rates (CTR).

Now, we will continue to monitor this trend throughout the year and track how it progresses, but it is my speculation that Amazon may have a deliberate hand in this shift. As an agency, we work directly with an Amazon Agency Rep as well as the Amazon Account Executives that are assigned to our clients. The message from them has been to invest more in audience targeting with Sponsored Display campaigns. With audience targeting, Amazon uses the data it collects on its shoppers and creates these audiences based on their overall consumer behavior rather than just the search they enter into the search bar.

This shift is not surprising internally at JumpFly. Our Account Managers who manage Google Ads and Microsoft Ads have been seeing the same erosion of broad match on their platforms for years. It’s now Amazon’s turn to follow in the revenue grab that Google and Microsoft normalized.

With Amazon’s focus on Sponsored Display campaigns and push to get more advertisers using audience targeting over keyword targeting, I can’t help but wonder if Amazon is loosening the thresholds on the match types to decrease the performance of keyword campaigns, thus driving more advertisers to test audiences.

This is merely my professional opinion based on the data I am seeing, but it has driven me to pause all broad match targeting in some of my Sponsored Product campaigns. Once that was done, we saw the performance of the campaign improve considerably with a higher CTR, stronger ad revenue, and more ad spend investment behind relevant shopper searches.

This being said, I encourage you to monitor your keyword strategies closely, regularly audit your Search Term Reports, and be sure to test different strategies as we progress through 2023. I don’t think keyword targeting is going anywhere any time soon for Amazon Ads, but it is important to be mindful of Amazon’s goals and strategies for their ad platform when utilizing it. 

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