Automatic vs. Manual Campaigns: Which Is Better for Amazon PPC?

  • #Scale Insights Team
Automatic vs. Manual Campaigns
Automatic vs. Manual Campaigns: Which Is Better for Amazon PPC?

Choosing between automatic and manual Amazon PPC campaigns presents a crucial crossroad for sellers aiming to excel in the marketplace

 Automatic campaigns offer a hands-off approach, letting Amazon's algorithms seek out potential buyers for you—ideal for those just stepping into the PPC world. Manual campaigns, however, place you in command, requiring more effort but granting the precision needed for possibly greater returns.

Whether you're a novice looking for guidance or an experienced seller seeking optimization, it's about finding the right mix for your business.

Continue reading our guide to learn how to balance automatic and manual campaigns effectively, enhancing your Amazon success.

Understanding Amazon PPC

In your journey to mastering Amazon advertising, grasping the core of Amazon Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and distinguishing between automatic and manual campaigns are pivotal steps.

PPC Fundamentals

Amazon PPC is an advertising strategy that enables you, the seller, to display ads for your products on Amazon’s marketplace. You only pay when a potential customer clicks on your ad. This approach is pivotal to increasing visibility and driving sales.

It works as an auction where you bid on keywords relevant to your product. When applied effectively, PPC can boost your product's discoverability and competitiveness.

  • Auction-Based System: You bid against other sellers for ad placement.

  • Keyword Targeting: Ads appear based on matching keywords to customer searches.

  • Performance Metrics: Use data like click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate to gauge success.

Automatic vs. Manual Campaigns

Automatic Campaigns delegate keyword discovery and bid adjustments to Amazon's algorithms. They yield valuable insights into which keywords perform well without your direct intervention. This type is excellent for new sellers or those looking to save time.

Automatic campaign simplifies the PPC process:


  • Simplifies ad management

  • Collects keyword data


  • Less control over keyword choice

  • Potentially higher ACoS

Manual Campaigns require your hands-on approach for keyword selection and bid management. This campaign type affords you pinpoint control, allowing finer ad spend optimization.

Manual campaign allows granular control:


  • Specific keyword targeting

  • Potential for optimized ad spending


  • Requires more time and effort

  • Risk of human error

Ultimately, your choice depends on your familiarity with PPC, time commitment, and willingness to manage your ad campaigns' nuances. It's crucial to test both approaches to determine which aligns best with your advertising goals.

The Role of Keywords in Campaigns

In Amazon PPC campaigns, your success hinges greatly on how well you select and manage keywords, ensuring that your ads reach the right audience searching for your products.

Importance of Keyword Research

Keyword research is the backbone of both automatic and manual PPC campaigns on Amazon. 

Keyword research tools can significantly aid you in identifying high-converting keywords that potential buyers are likely to use when searching for products like yours. Incorporating these keywords into your campaigns helps you attract more relevant traffic, which can lead to increased sales.

  • Use keyword research tools to discover valuable keywords

  • Focus on high-converting keywords for the best ROI

Remember to also use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant search terms from triggering your ads. This will help you avoid wasting ad spending on searches that are not likely to convert into sales.

Keyword Match Types

Understanding keyword match types is crucial when setting up a PPC campaign on Amazon. There are three main match types you'll use:

  1. Broad Match: This type captures various customer searches related to your keyword, even if the search includes other terms or is in a different order.

  2. Phrase Match: Here, your ad is shown to those who use your exact keyword phrase within their search query.

  3. Exact Match: The most precise, this type will only show your ad when the exact keyword or phrase is searched.

Match Type


Traffic Volume


Broad Match




Phrase Match




Exact Match




For automatic campaigns, Amazon selects keywords based on your product information, whereas in manual campaigns, you choose the exact keywords and the match types to refine targeting and control costs further.

Automatic Campaigns

A split-screen showing two Amazon PPC campaign interfaces, one labeled "automatic" and the other "manual," with data and metrics displayed for comparison

Automatic campaigns offer an approach to Amazon PPC where the advertising platform does the heavy lifting for you.

How Automatic Campaigns Work

In an automatic campaign, Amazon's algorithm uses your product information—such as title, description, and category—to place your sponsored ads where they're likely to be relevant. 

Simply set your daily budget and bid, and let Amazon take care of the rest. Your products could be shown to customers who search for related terms or view similar items, which means opportunity for exposure without the nitty-gritty work of keyword research.

Pros and Cons of Automatic Campaigns


  • Efficiency: You save time as you don't have to manually select keywords or products; Amazon's algorithm does this automatically.

  • Broad Reach: Your ads may appear on a wide array of customer searches and products, potentially discovering valuable new keywords and ASINs.


  • Less Control: The algorithm determines the targeting, which can lead to ads showing up in less relevant places.

  • Wasted Spend Risk: With broad targeting, there's a chance your ad spend may go to less effective keywords before you can optimize.

  • Limited Bidding Options: While manual campaigns offer bid adjustments for individual keywords, automatic campaigns have more generalized bidding categories.

To minimize inefficiencies, start with lower bids and regularly review your campaigns to add negative keywords for non-converting terms. This is essential to refine your automatic campaigns and capitalize on its benefits while mitigating its limitations.

Manual Campaigns

When you aim to fine-tune your advertising efforts on Amazon and take full control of your PPC campaigns, manual campaigns are your tool of choice.

In this setting, you get to handpick keywords and set bid rates, giving you the authority to steer the direction of your ad spend more precisely than with automatic counterparts.

How Manual Campaigns Work

Manual campaigns allow you to select specific keywords or ASINs to target your ads. This targeting choice means that your ad will be shown when shoppers search for these chosen terms or view the products you’ve targeted. Here's the basic structure:

  1. Keyword Selection:

    • Broad Match: Includes all forms of your keywords, including misspellings, synonyms, or related searches.

    • Phrase Match: Your ad appears for searches that include the exact phrase, or slight variations of it.

    • Exact Match: Targets the precise keyword or phrase, ensuring your ad shows only for the specific search. 

  1. Bid Setting: You decide how much you're willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. By managing bids yourself, you can allocate more to high-performing keywords and reduce spending on those that aren't converting as well.

  2. Campaign Launch: After setting up your campaign structure and bids, your ads are ready to go live.

Pros and Cons of Manual Campaigns


  • Greater Control: You determine which keywords to bid on, giving you the power to prioritize those more relevant to your products.

  • Efficient Budget Use: Allocate your ad spend towards terms with a proven track record, potentially improving your campaign’s profitability.

  • Increased Precision: Manual targeting can result in ads that are more precisely matched to shopper queries, raising the chance of relevance and conversion.


  • Complexity: Requires more knowledge and hands-on management, which may have a steeper learning curve.

  • Time-Intensive: Continual monitoring and adjustment are vital, demanding more of your time.

  • Risk of Human Error: With increased control comes the potential for mistakes in keyword selection and bid rates.

By clearly understanding your campaign goals and making vigilant, data-driven decisions, you can effectively leverage manual campaigns to drive growth and sales on Amazon.

Remain attentive to your campaign's performance analytics to adapt and refine your strategy for continued success.

Strategic Considerations

When diving into Amazon PPC campaigns, your choice between automatic and manual options should hinge on how deeply you want to manage your budget and optimize based on performance metrics.

Budget Management

Automatic Campaigns:

  • Budget Control: Initially, you can set a daily budget to control ad spend.

  • Bidding: Bids are set automatically by Amazon's algorithms, which can be cost-effective but provide less control.

Manual Campaigns:

  • Budget Flexibility: You can adjust bids for specific keywords, affording precise control over where your budget is allocated.

  • ACoS Management: By manually adjusting bids, you can target an ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sale) that aligns with your profit margins.

Performance Metrics & Optimization

Automatic Campaigns:

  • Data Collection: Useful for gathering data on converting search terms, granting insight without manual research.

  • Ease of Entry: Great for beginners on Amazon PPC to start getting impressions and understand basic performance metrics.

Manual Campaigns:

  • Targeted Optimization: You can optimize bids for higher conversion rates on successful keywords.

  • ROAS Focus: Tighter control allows for strategic adjustments to improve your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

  • Ad Spend Efficiency: Manual adjustments can lead to more efficient use of ad spend over time through constant refinement.

Enhancing Campaign Performance

These approaches help maximize sales, increase product ad visibility, and strengthen your brand's presence.

Structuring Campaigns for Success

The foundation of your PPC campaign significantly impacts its outcome. It's essential to have a solid campaign structure that classifies and groups your products in a way that is aligned with how shoppers search for them.

Start with an automatic campaign to gather data, and use insights from this to create a well-organized manual campaign.

  • Automatic Campaigns: Ideal for keyword discovery and gathering initial data.

  • Manual Campaigns: Best for optimizing bids on high-performing keywords.

A balanced approach allows you to cover a broader range of keywords while focusing your budget on those that generate the most sales.

Leveraging Analytics for Insights

Analytics tools are your window into the performance of your PPC campaigns. By regularly analyzing your campaign data, you can make data-driven decisions to refine and optimize your strategy.

Here's how you can use analytics to your advantage:

  • Track Conversions: Focus on keywords that lead to sales.

  • Utilize Keyword Research Tools to identify high-potential keywords.

Make sure to adjust bids according to the performance data from these tools, putting more budget towards keywords that increase visibility and drive conversions. SellerApp and Brand Builder University are valuable resources to guide you in understanding the impact of your PPC efforts and how to optimize for better results.

Use SellerApp and Brand Builder University as necessary tools to learn more about how well your PPC campaigns are working and to come up with ways to make them work better. These tools will help you a lot as you go through the optimization process. They will also help you make decisions that will get you the best return on your advertising spend.

Practical Tips for Sellers

Knowing when to use automatic versus manual targeting is essential to optimize your ad spending and prevent losing money.

When to Use Automatic vs Manual Campaigns

Automatic Targeting:

  • Ideal for New Sellers: If you're starting out or launching a new product, automatic targeting can help you discover valuable keywords and customer search patterns.

Manual Targeting:

  • For Experienced Sellers: Once you've identified profitable keywords from automatic campaign or through your own research, transition to manual campaigns for greater control.

Creating a Balance:

  • Combine Both: Use both campaign types to broaden your reach. Start with automatic to gather data, and then refine with manual campaigns to target specific keywords with precision.

Avoiding Common PPC Mistakes

  • Neglecting Negative Keywords: Regularly update your negative keywords to minimize wastage of your ad spend on irrelevant searches that don’t convert.

  • Failing to Adjust Bids: Be proactive in adjusting your bids based on campaign performance data. Don't let your campaigns run on auto-pilot; a bid that's too high can cost you, while too low may lose visibility.

By applying these targeted approaches, you'll be empowered as an Amazon seller to craft PPC strategies that are cost-effective and well-tuned to your brand's objectives.

Advanced Strategies

When managing your Amazon PPC campaigns, utilizing advanced strategies can help refine your ad spend efficacy and boost conversions.

Using Advanced Targeting Techniques

Bid Adjustments for Specific Targets: Adjusting your bid rates is critical in advanced targeting. For each segment of your target audience, consider the value they bring to your Amazon Marketplace presence. Set higher bids for keywords or product targeting where higher conversion rates are observed.

  • Product Targeting:

    • Related Products: Identify and target products that are complementary to yours. This increases the likelihood of reaching buyers who are already interested in similar items.

    • Competitor's Products: Target competitors with lower ratings or higher prices to capture their market share.

Refine Your Target Audience:

  • Use Amazon's search term report to pinpoint the exact search queries leading to sales.

  • Target high-performing queries with tailored manual campaigns to reach your most relevant audience directly.

A/B Testing & Experimentation

Campaign Experimentation: Experimentation is vital in discovering what resonates best with your audience. Running A/B tests allows you to compare different aspects of your campaigns.

  • Create variations by altering:

    • Keywords and Match Types: Test different keyword match types to find the optimal balance between reach and relevance.

    • Bid Amounts: Tinker with bid amounts to determine the most cost-effective rate for every keyword or product group.

Analyzing Results:

  • Monitor performance metrics to identify which variation yields the highest conversions.

  • Use this data to make informed decisions on bid adjustments and keyword optimization for your campaigns.

By engaging in advanced targeting techniques and rigorous A/B testing, you can poise your Amazon PPC campaigns for improved performance and higher return on ad spend.

Conclusion: Amazon Manual vs. Automated Campaigns

Amazon PPC presents a choice: the simplicity of automated campaigns or the precision of manual efforts.

Automated campaigns provide a quick start and valuable keyword insights, ideal for those new to PPC or short on time. Meanwhile, manual campaigns offer seasoned advertisers the control to tune their target keywords for potentially greater returns finely.

Strategically, beginning with automated campaigns to gather data, then sharpening focus with manual targeting can lead to peak campaign performance. Your path in Amazon PPC should align with your goals and expertise.

Seeking the perfect balance? Our Amazon PPC plans can guide you to success. Explore our PPC plans for expert campaign management.

Delve into our offerings to discover expertly managed PPC strategies that align with your objectives and unlock the full potential of your Amazon advertising efforts. Incorporating SellerApp and Brand Builder University as essential tools can also enrich your understanding of PPC campaign dynamics and empower you to enact strategies that drive superior results.

These resources play a crucial role in optimizing your approach to Amazon PPC, whether you're navigating the nuances of manual targeting or leveraging the efficiency of automated campaigns.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use both automatic and manual campaigns for the same product on Amazon?

Yes, it's common to run both automatic and manual campaigns simultaneously for the same product. This strategy allows you to leverage the broad data collection of automatic campaigns while refining specific keywords and bids with manual campaigns.

2. How do I transition from an automatic to a manual campaign on Amazon?

To transition from an automatic to a manual campaign, first analyze the search term report from your automatic campaign to identify high-performing keywords. Then, create a manual campaign targeting these keywords with tailored bid amounts based on their past performance.

3. What are some best practices for setting bids in manual campaigns?

For manual campaigns, start with competitive bids based on keyword research and historical data. Monitor performance closely, and increase bids for keywords that convert well while lowering or pausing those that don't. Remember to factor in your product's price and margins when deciding on bid amounts.

4. Should I use broad, phrase, or exact match keywords in manual campaigns?

Your choice of keyword match types in manual campaigns should align with your campaign goals. Use broad match keywords to maximize reach, phrase match for a balance of volume and relevance, and exact match for targeting highly specific traffic that's more likely to convert.

5. How often should I review and optimize my Amazon PPC campaigns?

Review and optimize your Amazon PPC campaigns regularly – at least weekly or bi-weekly. This allows you to adjust bids, refine keyword targeting, add negative keywords, and respond to changes in competition and customer behavior.

6. What is a good starting budget for Amazon PPC automatic campaigns?

A good starting budget for Amazon PPC automatic campaigns depends on your product's cost, expected conversion rate, and overall marketing budget. A conservative approach is to set a daily budget that allows for a minimum of 10-20 clicks per day based on your estimated cost-per-click.

7. How do I effectively implement negative keywords in my PPC campaigns?

Implement negative keywords by analyzing your automatic campaign's search term report to identify irrelevant or non-converting search terms. Add these as negative keywords to your campaigns to prevent your ads from showing up for those searches, thereby reducing wasted spend and improving campaign efficiency.