Automatic vs Manual Campaign in Amazon: What You Need to Know

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Amazon PPC

Amazon advertising is crucial for brands looking to increase product visibility and sales on the largest ecommerce marketplace. When setting up Amazon PPC campaigns, advertisers must choose between Amazon advertising and manual campaigns. This decision significantly impacts budget efficiency, revenue, and workflow. Weighing the pros and cons of both methods helps make an informed choice suitable for business needs.

Amazon PPC enables sponsored ads to appear atop search results and product pages. Campaigns optimize ad visibility to target audiences by bidding on relevant keywords.

With two campaign types available, advertisers must determine whether algorithm-driven automatic or customizable manual campaigns better meet objectives. The right approach depends on factors like budget, product type, and team bandwidth. Testing both methods helps identify an optimal structure for the unique needs of every brand.

Key Takeaways

  • Automatic campaigns are algorithm-driven and require minimal input, making them easy to set up but lacking in control over targeting and bidding.
  • Manual campaigns involve more effort in setting up and ongoing management but provide complete control over keyword selection, bidding strategies, and campaign settings.
  • Automatic campaigns offer broader reach but risk inefficient spending on irrelevant keywords, while manual campaigns focus on high-performing keywords for better efficiency and ROI.
  • Consider factors like skill level, budget, campaign goals, time commitment, and the role of advertising agencies when choosing between automatic and manual campaigns.

automatic vs manual campaign amazon

What are Automatic Campaigns?

Automatic campaigns utilize Amazon’s algorithms to display ads. They require minimal input, only asking for a daily budget and initial bid. Amazon then analyzes the product listing to identify relevant search terms. When shoppers search those terms, the ad may appear without the brand selecting specific keywords.

Automatic campaigns provide a simple, hands-off approach. The algorithmic design makes it easy to launch campaigns quickly without advanced preparation. They can help expose products to a wide range of searches, including potential long-tail keywords overlooked during manual research. 

However, their lack of control risks wasted ad spend on irrelevant keywords with low conversion potential. With no ability to refine keyword targeting or bidding, routine poor performance can go unchecked.

automatic vs manual campaign amazon

What are Manual Campaigns?

Unlike automatic campaigns, manual campaigns involve creating highly-customized ad groups around strategically-researched keywords. Advertisers manually choose keywords, set match types, establish bids, and define other settings. This grants complete control over targeting.

Manual campaigns allow granular management based on profitability. Keywords generating conversions can receive higher bids to increase visibility. Irrelevant terms can be excluded or given lower bids to reduce wasted spend. 

The hands-on process takes more work upfront but provides opportunity for ongoing optimization based on performance data. However, the intensive focus risks overlooking valuable long-tail searches. Maintaining tight control also requires constant vigilance to detect emerging trends.

Key Differences Between Automatic and Manual Campaigns

automatic vs manual campaign amazon

Setting Up Automatic and Manual Campaigns

Automatic campaigns require a budget and bid to launch, making them relatively simple and quick to set up. On the other hand, manual campaigns involve more complexity as they require comprehensive keyword research and careful planning of ad group structure. This means that manual campaigns require more time and effort during the setup phase compared to automatic campaigns.


Automatic campaigns have a wider reach as they display ads on a greater variety of searches, including potentially obscure long-tail keywords. This can expose products to new audiences but also risks spending on irrelevant traffic.

In contrast, manual campaigns focus on directly relevant, high-performing keywords, which tend to convert better. This targeted approach ensures better visibility for ads that are more likely to result in conversions.

Efficiency and Budget Allocation

Automatic campaigns may allocate budget to untargeted, random searches with lower conversion rates, which can result in inefficient spending.

On the other hand, manual campaigns focus directly on profitable keywords, maximizing return on investment by allocating budget to keywords that are more likely to convert. This targeted approach ensures better efficiency in budget allocation and higher conversion rates.


Automatic campaigns offer little to no control as algorithms make all decisions automatically. Advertisers have limited control over keywords, bids, match types, and settings in automatic campaigns.

In contrast, manual campaigns provide full control over every aspect of the campaign, including keyword selection, bidding strategies, match types, and campaign settings. However, this level of control requires constant monitoring, optimization, and maintenance to ensure optimal campaign performance. Automatic campaigns, on the other hand, require minimal effort to maintain once they are set up.

Best Practices

To leverage automatic campaigns successfully:

  • Avoid launching during new product releases when demand is uncertain. Manual campaigns are better for new products.
  • Set conservatively low default bids to reduce potentially wasted spend. Raise bids slowly as performance dictates.
  • Regularly review search term reports to identify high-performing keywords worth targeting in a manual campaign.

To maximize manual campaign performance:

  • Research keywords extensively using historical data, related products, and tools like Amazon’s keyword planner.
  • Structure campaigns around tightly-themed ad groups sorted by product type, sub-type, brand, etc.
  • Categorize keywords by match type based on relevance. Use close variants for highly relevant keywords.
  • Set higher bids for the most profitable keywords while avoiding irrelevant terms entirely.
  • Regularly review reports, search terms, and metrics like ACoS to optimize bids, keywords, and ad group structure.

Manual campaigns thrive on meticulous organization and being actively maintained through continuous improvements. Leverage Amazon’s data to perfect targeting and adopt emerging trends. A hands-off approach leads to declining performance over time.

Choosing Between Automatic vs Manual Campaign Amazon: Key Considerations

When planning your advertising strategy on Amazon, one of the critical decisions you’ll face is choosing between automatic and manual campaigns. Each type has distinct advantages and challenges, making it essential to understand their nuances to optimize your advertising efforts effectively.

Key considerations when choosing between automatic and manual campaigns include:

  1. Skill Level and Resources: Automatic campaigns require less expertise and are easier to manage, making them a good starting point for beginners or those with limited resources. Manual campaigns, while more labor-intensive, offer higher precision and potentially greater ROI for those with the expertise to manage them effectively.
  2. Budget Considerations: Automatic campaigns might spread your budget across a broader range of keywords, some of which may be less relevant, potentially leading to higher spending with lower returns. Manual campaigns allow for more strategic budget use by targeting chosen keywords directly.
  3. Campaign Goals: Consider what you aim to achieve with your PPC campaigns. If broad market exposure and keyword discovery are your goals, automatic campaigns might serve you better. If you’re focusing on maximizing ROI from known high-value keywords, manual campaigns could be more advantageous.
  4. Time and Involvement: Automatic campaigns require less ongoing management, making them less time-consuming. Manual campaigns demand continuous optimization and monitoring, which can be resource-intensive but can also lead to significantly better campaign performance.

automatic vs manual campaign amazon

The Role of Advertising Agency for Automatic and Manual Campaigns

automatic vs manual campaign amazon

Advertising agencies play a crucial role in managing both automatic and manual campaigns for businesses. They bring expertise, experience, and resources to help optimize and maximize the effectiveness of these campaigns.

1. Strategy Development

Advertising agencies work closely with businesses to develop a comprehensive advertising strategy. They analyze the target audience, market trends, and competitors to determine the most effective approach for both automatic and manual campaigns. This includes setting campaign objectives, defining target demographics, and identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success.

2. Campaign Setup

Agencies handle the technical aspects of setting up automatic and manual campaigns. They create ad accounts, set up tracking pixels, and integrate with advertising platforms such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads Manager.

They also ensure that campaigns are properly structured, including ad groups, keywords, ad copy, and landing pages.

3. Keyword Research

For manual campaigns, agencies conduct extensive keyword research to identify relevant search terms that align with the business’s products or services. They use various tools and techniques to identify high-performing keywords with low competition. This helps optimize campaign targeting and improve visibility in search engine results.

4. Ad Copy Creation

Agencies are responsible for creating compelling ad copy that resonates with the target audience. They craft persuasive messages that highlight the unique selling points of the business and encourage users to take action. Ad copy is tailored for different platforms and ad formats to maximize engagement and conversions.

5. Optimization and Monitoring

Advertising agencies continuously monitor campaign performance and make data-driven optimizations to improve results. They analyze metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, cost per acquisition (CPA), and return on ad spend (ROAS). Based on these insights, they adjust bidding strategies, refine targeting parameters, and optimize ad placements to maximize campaign effectiveness.

6. Reporting and Analysis

Agencies provide regular reports on campaign performance, highlighting key metrics and insights. They use advanced analytics tools to track conversions, attribution, and user behavior. This helps businesses understand the impact of their advertising efforts and make informed decisions for future campaigns.

7. AI Integration

Advertising agencies leverage AI technology to enhance campaign performance. They utilize AI-powered platforms to automate tasks such as keyword research, bid management, and ad optimization. This allows for more efficient and effective campaign management, resulting in improved ROI.

Overall, advertising agencies play a vital role in managing both automatic and manual campaigns. They bring expertise, strategic guidance, and technical know-how to ensure that campaigns are optimized, targeted, and deliver the desired results for businesses.

Conclusion: Which is Better?

There is no universally “better” campaign type. Both options can play an effective role. Automatic campaigns provide an easy entry point for beginners to gather data and identify opportunities. As brands master PPC strategies, manual campaigns allow granular control for improved conversion rates.

Ideally, brands should leverage both campaign types in balance. Automatic campaigns help increase product visibility through wider reach. Manual campaigns focus spend on proven top-converting keywords.

Let automatic campaigns expose products to new relevant search terms. Then build manual campaigns around the proven keywords with the highest ROI. Testing both approaches makes their strengths and weaknesses clear for each unique brand. Ultimately, the optimal combination depends on the individual business, its products, readiness to learn, and marketing goals.

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Vijay FosterFBA CEO/ Founder

Vijay Jacob

Founder, FosterFBA

Helping 7-8 Figure Amazon Sellers grow profitably with their Amazon Advertising


P.S: If you are making over $10K/month and want to take your PPC sales to the next level. We’re offering  “done-for-you” Amazon PPC management & consulting services that does just that. You can schedule a free strategy session and audit of your ads to see if we’re a good fit:


What Are Automatic Campaigns on Amazon?

Automatic campaigns on Amazon allow the platform to decide when to display your product ad based on keywords identified from your product listing. This type of campaign is easy to set up and doesn’t require extensive keyword research, making it suitable for PPC beginners.

What Are the Advantages of Automatic Campaigns?

Automatic campaigns are straightforward for beginners, eliminating the need for keyword bidding or extensive keyword research. They can help identify long-tail search terms for future campaigns, which might be challenging to pinpoint using even efficient keyword research tools.

What Are the Disadvantages of Automatic Campaigns?

Automatic campaigns might not optimize the page rank of the product ad based on keyword relevance and profitability. Since advertisers have no control over bids, they might end up bidding the same for high-converting, low-converting, and non-converting keywords. Sometimes, Amazon might also display product ads for irrelevant search terms.

What Are Manual Campaigns on Amazon?

In manual campaigns, the seller manually defines the keywords and bid rates. Depending on the keyword match type, the product ad is displayed for the chosen search term, giving advertisers more control over their campaigns.

What Are the Advantages of Manual Campaigns?

Manual campaigns target a more precise audience since the keywords are manually identified by the seller. They help in achieving the target ACoS value and maximizing sales. Manual campaigns allow different keyword bid rates based on conversion rates, optimizing ad spend.

What Are the Disadvantages of Manual Campaigns?

Manual campaigns can be prone to human errors since keywords and bids are manually defined. They require significant effort in Amazon keyword research and bid rate determination. Constant vigilance is necessary to maintain a healthy campaign structure, making them time-consuming.

What Are the Key Differences Between Automatic vs Manual Campaigns on Amazon?

Automatic campaigns on Amazon allow the platform’s algorithms to select keywords and place bids based on product listing content, offering an easy setup and broad keyword targeting, ideal for newcomers and those seeking exposure. In contrast, manual campaigns provide advertisers with precise control over keyword selection, bidding strategies, and targeted advertising, requiring more hands-on management but offering better optimization opportunities for experienced users who aim to maximize ROI through focused targeting.