Amazon Sponsored Brands Keyword Targeting Update

By Tinuiti Team

Amazon recently announced an update to their keyword targeting features for Sponsored Brands. Here’s what you need to know.

What are Amazon Sponsored Brands?

Formerly known as Headline Search Ads, Amazon Sponsored Brands are ads that appear in search results. These ads feature a brand’s logo, a custom headline, and up to three products.

Sponsored Brands are available to Sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, as well as Vendors and Amazon agencies.



Appearing on both desktop and mobile, Sponsored Brands can help increase brand and product recognition. You can choose which keywords to target and, because these ads are cost-per-click, decide how much you want to bid for clicks. This makes Sponsored Brands available to sellers with a wide range of budgets.

Amazon’s recent update to Sponsored Brands includes three changes to keyword targeting:

  1. Negative keywords
  2. Variation matches
  3. Broad match modifiers


Negative keywords

Brands can now use negative keyword targeting in the Sponsored Brands campaign manager and campaign builder. When a shopper’s search terms match your set negative keywords, your ads will not show in the search results. This helps keep your ads from showing up in irrelevant searches.

You can use negative keywords with broad, phrase, and exact match keyword targeting. Phrase match means that the search query contains the exact phrase or sequence of keywords, but can have additional keywords before or after the phrase. Exact match means that the search query only contains the set keyword or sequence of keywords.

Variation matches

Sponsored Brands broad match keyword targeting now includes plurals, synonyms, and other words related to your primary keyword. For example, if your ads target the keyword “shoes” using broad match, your ads may now show on shopper searches for “sneakers” or “heels.”  

Variation matches help you get your ads in front of more shoppers without having to match the exact word used in their search query.

Broad match modifiers

Finally, Sponsored Brands keyword targeting now offers broad match modifiers. Broad match modifiers allow you to make sure that your ads show only when a broad matched keyword is accompanied by a certain word — a modifier. To add a broad match modifier, add a plus sign (+) before your modifier.

Continuing our shoe example, let’s say you only sell women’s shoes. By adding “+women shoes” as a broad match keyword, you can ensure that your ads only show up in search results when the query includes the word “women.” With this modifier, your ads could show up when shoppers search “women sneakers” or “women heels,” but not “sneakers” or “heels.”

Why do these updates matter?

When you’re paying for each click on an ad, you need to strike a delicate balance between appearing in too many or too few searches. If you appear in searches that aren’t relevant to your product, you might have people clicking through who are less likely to buy your product. But if you over-target and only use exact match keywords, you could be missing out on related searches and interested shoppers.

The three new updates to Sponsored Brands keyword targeting help you reach more customers, target your ads more specifically, and control ad spend more carefully.

Of course, this update begs the question – can we expect the same for Sponsored Products? Here’s what Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace Strategy at Tinuiti says:

“We haven’t been given any indication that the functionality will be expanded to Sponsored Products. For the time being, I’d expect this to be exclusively for Sponsored Brands.”


If you were hesitant about creating Sponsored Brands ads before, these updates should help alleviate user concerns around negative keyword targeting and search query relevance.

Do you use Sponsored Brands to advertise on Amazon? How do you feel about these updates? Let us know in the comments!

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