The ultimate guide to search term negation on Amazon Ads

Atom11 presents the ultimate guide to search term negation on Amazon Ads, helping businesses optimize their campaigns, reduce wasted spend, and increase ROI by effectively excluding irrelevant search terms.

Mar 5, 2024

search term negation on amazon ads
search term negation on amazon ads


“Should I negate a Keyword or should I reduce the bid?”

“How long should I wait before negating a keyword?”

“What kind of keywords should I absolutely not negate?”

If these are some of the questions that you struggle with, you should give the following post a read. I will touch upon the basics of search term negation and a fantastic framework to evaluate between bid reduction vs. negation. I will also discuss how you can use Atom11, Amazon Ad automation software to automate search term negation.

It is no secret that Amazon advertising derives some roots from google ads. In 2016, when Amazon ads were launched, negative keywords were not even an option. It was a highly requested feature by D2C sellers who had already used Google Ads.

Simply stated, search term negation is done to optimize advertising spend on Amazon. When a search term is negated, Amazon stops sending traffic to that search term. And instead that spend is diverted to high performing and more relevant search terms, i.e. search terms that convert into sales.

In a poll that atom11 did, we found that 70% Amazon advertisers prefer to negate “bad” keywords vs. reducing bids. What is interesting is that the definition of “bad keywords” varies from advertiser to advertiser.

Negation vs. bid reduction of non performing keywords

In the following section, I will explain a framework to decide the same:

What not to negate:

1.   High performing search terms:

a.   High Conversion search terms: This is a no-brainer. If a search term is performing as per your ACOS targets and giving sales, you should not consider negating it.

b.   Low CAC search terms: If the CAC on the search term is lower than target CAC (i.e. AOV*Target ACOS), but the KW is not performing well ACOS wise, then you can consider reducing bid.

2.   Branded search terms: 90% of the times, these search terms perform well. But if branded search terms are not performing well, consider pausing them rather than negating. However, there is one case where you might want to negate branded search terms. Read on to find out.

3.   Ranking search terms: If you want to rank on a search term, where you are currently not. Then ensure that you are not negating search terms basis performance data.

Ranking campaigns are campaigns that bid highly on keywords that you want to rank high on. For ex. if you are selling office chairs, then you'd ideally create a separate campaign for 1 KW - "office chair" with high bid. Normally, the ACOS of such search terms is high. Hence, you want to ensure that you are not adding these campaigns to search term negation rules.

What to negate:

1.   Semantically similar search terms: Let’s say you sell Hair Oil. And you want to bid on a high search volume search term “Oil”.

If you do that, you may end up showing your ad to customers searching for hair oil, cooking oil, automobile oil or essential oils. This will be a humongous waste of money.

Or you could bid on the keyword "oil" and negate search terms like cooking oil, vegetable oil, automobile oil and essential oil.

Another example is adult diapers. When you bid on the keyword diaper, all you see is baby diapers. As an adult diaper company, you can negate baby diaper, baby diaper size m etc. on the given search term, and only show your ads to relevant audience.

These search terms are irrelevant and you can spot them in the search term reports. You also get a knack of these search terms when you have sold your products for some time.

2.   Campaign Structure: If your campaign structure is divided into branded, generic and competition search terms, then it makes sense to negate branded search terms from generic and competition campaigns.

Why? Well, understand the algorithm: Amazon will show your ads on search terms, where your expected click through rate CTR is higher. Ofcourse, this should not come as a surprise as Amazon would want to maximize its revenue. If you do not negate branded search terms in generic campaigns, you will end up getting branded impressions on generic campaigns.

Negation Framework:

If the above is not the case, then use the atom11 Negation Framework. The framework will tell you exactly when to negate your search terms as per your objective on Amazon.

Click and spend threshold for search term negation

The beauty of this framework is that you can use different frameworks for different objective campaigns.

a.   If your objective is to increase your share of voice, please do not consider negating keywords. You should set up rules to reduce bids until they hit a min. target.

b.   If your objective is to increase your sale, then the parameter that you have to optimize is clicks. Consider average click to conversion of your account. If the keyword has crossed 4X click to conversion, and still does not have sale, then consider negating the search term

c.   If your objective is profitability, then you cannot consider clicks as your decision-making parameter. Instead focus on ad spend threshold. If your spend is greater than 5X your Target CAC, then consider negating that search term. For other cases, reduce bids.

How to set up search term negations using ad automation software, Atom11:

The problem with negating search terms on Amazon Ad console is:

1.   Ad console does not offer bulk search term negation at this point. You can only use bulk sheets. Bulk sheets are buggy and not everyone is comfortable with it

2.   Super hard to check history of negated search terms. You have to go to each campaign and ad group to check which search term was negated when.

Because of the above reasons, we do not recommend using Amazon Ad console to negate search terms.

Atom11 makes it really easy to set up search term negations. It uses a rule-based algorithm to allow you to negate the right search terms. Few reasons why Atom11’s advertising automation software provides the best way to negate search terms: 

1.   You can set up custom rules based on your campaign objectives.

2.   You can set up custom rules on multiple campaigns

3.   You can edit custom rules as your objective changes

4.   You can check history of search term negation by campaign, by time and by rule name

Let’s take a sneak-peak:

(a) By Campaign Objective: Atom11 provides you the opportunity to select campaigns for different types of rules. You can set up 3 different Negation rules for 3 different objectives.

advertising automation software

(b) By campaign structure: You can exclude branded and Single Keyword campaigns from negation rules.

(c ) Setting up the rule: Set up the rule as per your formula:

A few good formulas are as follows:

  1. In last 21 days, if Clicks > 20 and Sales = 0, then negate

  2. In last 21 days, if Clicks > Click to Conversion * 5, and Sales = 0, then negate

    Click to conversion = clicks/ orders. It is the opposite of conversion%. For ex. if your Conversion% is 10%, then click to conversion is 10.

    You can set up negation on a KW, if there is no sale, even at 5X of click to conversion.

  3. In last 21 or 30 days, if Spend > 100$, and Sales = 0

search term negation on amazon ads


It is super important to follow a good framework to negate search terms. That is because, search term negation is not like bid reduction or keyword harvesting. It has serious implications, if you negate an important search term.

You can either use Atom11’s search term negation framework or create your own. But remember, it is okay to have exceptions on the framework when it comes to negation.

Base your negation framework on metrics such as clicks, CAC and sale. I always suggest only negating a keyword as negative exact. A good negation strategy can help you utilize your spend in the right way, hence providing better advertising results.

Happy advertising!