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On March 15th, 2018 our own Andrew Maff sat down with Pat Lum, Co-Founder of AsteroidX, to talk about what AsteroidX does and how it can help bring your Amazon PPC up to speed.
Andrew Maff: So Amazon PPC, love talking about it, great let's do it. So there's a ton of companies out there that do it, obviously we're one of them. But there's also a ton of ... There's agencies there's software that claim to automate it. There's everything under the sun when it comes to Amazon PPC. So what is it about Asteroid X that's different than everyone else.
Pat Lum: Yeah, So I mean, one thing is that this is all that we do. So we're just laser focused on this one problem. I've been helping Amazon sellers for the last five years myself. I started when ranking and reviews were a certain way, 2014, 2015.
Andrew Maff: When it was easy.
Pat Lum: Right, right, right, and so that was the way to help sellers back then. And going into 2018 to 2020ish, obviously, sellers still need their ranking and reviews. So I turn to ads and ad platform to fill that need. So really I started by thinking about what would help sellers and then work backwards from there. Yeah, and we've just chosen to just get laser focused on this problem because I feel like the ad platform is still so young that there's a lot to be learned and yet cost per click is still quite low. So if we're sort of where Google and Facebook were a few years ago, three, four, five years, then we want to master the platform now, and just sort of, hopefully we can in that regard.
Andrew Maff: Nice. So you mentioned you guys are new, basically 11 months old. Your birthday is coming up, happy birthday.
Pat Lum: Yes, thank you.
Andrew Maff: But it's definitely been an interesting time for you guys to join in . I would say in the past six months, there's been more features and new stuff coming out in Amazon PPC than I think ever happened in my years of dealing with it. So how have you guys handled pivoting every time they release the additional bidding with auto campaigns or now I saw there's new metrics the yeah just got us a month or two ago or something like that. Someone showed me here. With everything that's been coming out of product targeting and all that, how are you guys kind of dealing with that?
Pat Lum: Well yeah, so we're building out an ads team. So these are just, there are certain parts that software can do really well. But we like to put humans in places where humans are still best. So constantly adapting to the software updates and the changes and the targeting options and the bidding strategies. We stay pretty human in that regard. We do use a lot of software obviously. But we're sort of bionic in that it's software and human expertise. I'm sure you guys have seen the same thing. In terms of keeping up with Kardashians on all the ad stuff. We test and try. So we are fortunate to have a pretty good range of customers that we work with in terms of size and in terms of market so different categories and stuff.
So we get to see how, product targeting works really well in some instances like where you can appear in sponsored placements on others sellers listings and it doesn't work well in other instances. Auto sometimes work great, sometimes not so much, sponsored brands, same thing. So yeah, yeah it's very iterative. But you're right though, lots of changes.
Andrew Maff: Yeah, past three, no I guess almost six months now it's been almost once a month something new has come out.
Pat Lum: Yeah.
Andrew Maff: Let alone the new interface that they have coming out now that they've beta tested on a few. But the thing I've started to learn a lot lately is I feel like there's a lot of sellers out there who still haven't realized that PPC doesn't necessarily work for everyone. If you're building a brand specifically on Amazon, yeah, you're going to get your branded key words. But your product targeting is probably going to be the most beneficial thing for you because if you're selling, how many frigging iPhone cases have I dealt with over the years, different, so many people coming in claiming to have this great iPhone accessory and be like oh, just get us to rank for iPhone X case.
But that's not going to happen. So the product targeting side of things, I think that really opened up a lot for people who are trying to build a brand now because you can kind of force your product in front of people. But it's still interesting to me, the amount of sellers who think they can just go onto Amazon like they could back when you started and it's as easy as it used to be because it's definitely not as easy as it once was.
Pat Lum: Well yeah, sellers are having to market right-
Andrew Maff: I know.
Pat Lum: In a more definite way. There's no hack you can work around.
Andrew Maff: For shame.
Pat Lum: Yeah, who knew right? So yeah, yeah and I guess for people who don't know or if you're new or you're just hopping on, the product that targeting that Andrew and I are talking about is if you export one of those search term reports that tells you what you got clicks for and what you got sales for in seller central, you can actually see, it will give you the [ACEN 00:05:36] codes of products that where you're recommended by Amazon. And you can actually now actively go after those [inaudible 00:05:44] who appear on those listings and use that as targeting. It used to be that you could only target by key words. Just to clarify, in case people don't know, because it's all new and [crosstalk 00:05:55]
Andrew Maff: Yeah, and you can go by brand name. You can go by category. I think, of course you can search for other ACENS and things that are similar. I know that every strategy is a little bit different. I know that everyone's kind of got their own way of doing the same thing. But I know that product targeting, specifically, you can get as granular as having an adverb specifically for exact competitors, or you can have complimentary products, or you can have exploratory, screw it, I'm going to try anyway kind of product.
Nutrition is always one where they're, you know what, let's just get in front of every bicycle. No, we're not doing that, and you'll burn money that way. But it's, there's a lot of different ways you can handle it. Product targeting is really interesting. I still have, I've found, I don't really have anyone that we work with right now that's doing okay with product targeting. They're either doing really well, and it was a god send that this thing was released to they're doing awful, and they should not be running product targeting ads. It's really interesting to see how big of a difference it affected.
Pat Lum: Yeah, yeah. It's fair enough and if you're a seller you kind of just have to try the stuff because it's product specific a lot of the time, and it's market specific. So just got to test it a little bit, buy some data. Run some ads, buy some data.
Andrew Maff: Do you automate any aspect of your PPC with Astroid X?
Pat Lum: Yeah, we're really, yeah, we're starting to work with developers here in the city to yeah become that bionic force because there's still a lot of subjective judgment calls. You need to look at a listing and understand it and then understand where to feature it keyword wise. Those are still, they can be data driven but those decisions are best made by data with human over sight on top. And the stuff that we're staring to automate is more around sort of cleaning up data and automating processes. So getting better visibility on which ACENS are already doing well, visibility on [inaudible 00:08:12] adjustments. There's a lot of numbers to add. So we're starting with that and then maybe eventually, we'll move towards the human judgements side. But that's going to be the hardest to get some software on.
Andrew Maff: Yeah. And I've done these live videos with [inaudible 00:08:30] before. I did it with PPC Entourage. I've done it with [Sellex 00:08:34]. I've done it with [SellerLabs 00:08:36] pretty much all of the automation software and I love having, doing those because I'm always like I really don't think it works, and they always get really defensive about it. I attempt to try to be as honest as possible when we're doing these things. But there is level of every business is different. Every product line is different. Every approach has to be different based on the product line and the business and you can't optimize an iPhone case like you could optimize a water filter that's an exact model. There's two very different things that you have to do there. And I've found that the automation is really great for certain types of sellers but definitely not everybody.
Pat Lum: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's fair enough, right. It's just that the tech hasn't progressed far enough to encompass all use cases. But yeah, yeah, probably yeah, for a general set of use cases it works pretty well or it covers the bases right, at least.
Andrew Maff: So who's the ideal Asteroid X client? What do you guys kind of go for? Is it really any kind of Amazon seller or do you guys have a particular market you prefer to work with?
Pat Lum: I look at his roughly in terms of a ten and ten, so over ten products and over ten thousand in monthly revenue. Usually helps just because then you have more to work with, right, and there's more data historically about what's worked, even organically. So that you can run ad's informed by organic sales data. Plus if you only have one product, it's a hit or a miss. But sometimes you do need a bit of a portfolio most of the time to have predictable success. Yeah, yeah. So a number of products and sales are those two levers that we like to look at when determining if someone's a good fit.
Andrew Maff: How do you guys handle product launches? That's always my favorite question.
Pat Lum: Yeah, so well we like to sync it up. So if something's coming on Amazon, coming online for the very first time, we do like to serve it in ads pretty early. We may take an [inaudible 00:10:56] hit because it hasn't [inaudible 00:10:57] presumably or it's just staring to get reviews. But yeah, we do like to get fairly aggressive with the sales going into it, just in the spirit that maybe products have this honeymoon period where Amazon is more amenable to serving them in more generous placements, just sort of test the waters to see if this product is going to be a hit or not. During that honey moon period we want to amp up your sales if we can. But it's only one element of the launch strategy. But as I said we don't do full launches. We take care of the PPC aspect of a launch, basically.
Andrew Maff: Yeah, yeah. Nice. I love to keep these super short and sweet so that we don't come across an Instagram and watch it for four hours. But I really appreciate you joining me. Love talking to you. Obviously Amazon PPC, fun one to talk about. I would love if you want to give some closing remarks. Let them know where they can find more information about you guys.
Pat Lum: Thank yeah. So thanks a lot Andrew for having me on. This is actually our Instagram debut.
Andrew Maff: Nice.
Pat Lum: So we've never used Instagram before. We're-
Andrew Maff: Welcome, welcome.
Pat Lum: Thanks man. It's been good. So this is a historic moment. Yeah, we're really pleased to be chatting with you guys about ads. It's always fun. The site is AsteroidX.me is the website there, and yeah, again it's certainly not for everybody. We do look and decide if it's a good fit down the line. But yeah, always worth opening up a conversation I guess,
Andrew Maff: Nice, appreciate it. For everyone who is watching or going to watch this or later on because we usually pull this thing off Instagram, throw it on YouTube and our blog and all that fun stuff. If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out or you can comment on whatever you're watching this on and then side note, selfish plug here, April 4th, I decide to do an internal Amazon PPC workshop happy hour. So we're going to do a webinar style while we drink. And we're going to do it over Amazon PPC. So feel free to join in if you guys watch it, you can register on our site too. But again, if you have any questions, feel free to comment and I will either make sure to get to them or I'll send them over to Asteroid X too and Pat can help you guys out. But Pat, really appreciate it. Thanks for doing this with me and have everybody stop by our booth [inaudible 00:13:23]next eek.
Pat Lum: All right, sounds good. Thanks a lot Andrew.
Andrew Maff: Have a good one. Thank you. See yeah.
Pat Lum: Bye.