AI vs Rule-Based Automation for Amazon PPC Ads: Which should you use?

  • 10 min read

After a certain point, running Amazon PPC ads manually becomes too much work. If you’re advertising so many products that keeping up with your ad maintenance is becoming overwhelming, then it’s time to start thinking about how to automate Amazon advertising. 

There are two main kinds of automation you can use, AI and rule-based. By using either of these (or a hybrid of both) you can save time on repetitive manual tasks. So which one is best suited to fit your needs? We’ll put a magnifying glass over both options to help you decide. 

  • Employ automation into your Amazon PPC campaigns to scale your Sponsored ads effectively and to meet your advertising goals more efficiently.
  • Use the side-by-side comparison of two automation types, AI and rule-based, to decide which one will fit into your advertising strategy. 
  • Once you’ve decided on the kind of automation to use, use the criteria provided to find an Amazon automation tool that best suits your needs. 

Get your checklist of 7 Amazon PPC campaign aspects that can be automated

Why is automating Amazon PPC ads important? 

Sponsored ads are a key part of Amazon's advertising ecosystem. They are used by sellers and brands to:

  • Promote their products
  • Increase visibility
  • Drive sales on the platform

amazon results

These PPC ads come in various formats, including Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Display ads. Advertisers can target specific keywords, products, or audiences to reach potential customers on Amazon.

Getting a competitive edge on Amazon

Amazon is an extremely competitive digital advertising landscape. So anything you can do to increase your chances of getting sales over your competitors is a must. 

With a firm advertising strategy already in place, using automation with Amazon PPC ads as well as a comprehensive Amazon analytics tool can be the boost you need to scale your ads effectively.

Saving time on manual tasks 

Amazon requires a lot of frequent maintenance to make sure that your current bids are still relevant and not costing you money in the long run. 

For example, if you’re able to save a few hours a week on keyword optimization with an automation tool and your competitor is still doing that manually, that’s extra time you have to improve other parts of your ads and listings. 

If you can get your Amazon PPC ads ranking high and work towards winning the Buy Box for your products, that’s doubling your chances of getting sales. 

Difference between sponsored products and the Buy Box

Just a quick note about sponsored products (Amazon PPC ads) and winning the Buy Box

Sponsored ads are advertisements designed to increase product visibility and drive traffic to product listings. They will include small text at the top of the listing that says “Sponsored”. 

The Buy Box is a purchasing feature that helps customers quickly add products to their carts and complete transactions with a preferred seller. It shows a product from one seller predominantly, and then offers the choice to look at other options from other sellers. 

amazon results

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What is the difference between AI and rule-based automation for Amazon PPC ads?

The AI route uses machine learning algorithms to make decisions for you by analyzing cast amounts of data. Typically you will just specify a few goals you have, and then the AI takes care of the rest.

Rule-based automation requires a bit more manual set up (still less than creating every ad yourself). You set up equations (IF/THEN rules) which then affect your ads when the conditions you set are met.  

if then rule example

To get a clearer sense of the differences, let’s break it down between 5 categories. 




Decision-making process

Utilizes machine learning algorithms to analyze large amounts of data and makes dynamic decisions based on patterns and insights.

Relies on predefined conditions and specific rules set by the user based on their own PPC knowledge.

Flexibility and adaptability

Adapts to changing market conditions and optimizes campaigns in real-time, as it continuously learns and adjusts strategies based on current data. 

Follows predefined rules and may not adapt as quickly to changes in performance or new market trends if the person responsible for campaign management doesn’t update them. 

Complexity and sophistication

Can handle complex data analysis and derive insights that may not be easily identifiable with human analysis. Can detect patterns to identify audience segments, and then optimize bids and targeting strategies accordingly. 

Relies on manually set rules or conditions, however a seasoned PPC expert may have knowledge of nuances that AI can’t pick up on. The human touch still has an important role to play in ad conversions. 

Scale and handling large data

Processes and analyzes data quickly, allowing for more user-oriented, personalized optimizations. 

May be more limited in handling large data sets and requires manual adjustments when dealing with complex campaigns.

Control and customization

Relies on algorithms for decision making and optimizing, limiting the level of direct control over specific actions.

Provides more control and customization options, as users can set specific rules and conditions according to their goals and preferences. Advertisers have more direct input and can fine-tune campaign strategies based on their expertise and desired outcomes. 

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7 Amazon PPC campaign aspects that can be automated [Checklist]

Both AI-based automation and rule-based automation can be applied to various areas of Amazon PPC advertising. Automating these areas will help you streamline campaign management, overall optimization, and your decision-making processes.

Aspect of campaigns

Manual maintenance 

AI automation

Rule-based automation 

Bid adjustments

(weekly or bi-weekly) 

  • Evaluate keyword and product targeting performance on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
  • Adjust keyword bids to optimize for a target ACOS or ROI based on recent performance data.
  • Consider increasing bids for top-performing keywords or products and decreasing bids for underperforming ones.

Adjust keyword bids in real-time based on historical performance data, current market conditions, and user behavior to maximize ROI.

Set specific bid adjustment rules based on performance metrics, such as increasing bids for high-converting keywords and decreasing bids for underperforming ones.

Keyword and negative keyword research

  • Conduct frequent, manual keyword research. 
  • Conduct research and add negative keywords based on search terms that are not relevant to the campaign's goals.

Identifies new keywords that may be relevant to your products and add them to your campaigns. It can also identify underperforming keywords and add them as negatives to prevent wasted ad spend.

Automatically add or remove keywords or negative keywords based on performance thresholds or other criteria that you set. 

Budget allocation 

  • Reevaluate budget allocation among campaigns and ad groups based on performance.
  • Adjust budgets to prioritize campaigns that generate the best results.

Allocate budgets across campaigns and adjust daily or lifetime budgets to ensure efficient spending and campaign performance.

Allocate budgets among campaigns, ad groups, or keywords based on predefined criteria, ensuring that top-performing campaigns receive sufficient budgets.

Ad copy

(monthly or quarterly)  

  • Test ad copy variations and creative elements (e.g., images) periodically to improve click-through rates.
  • Analyze ad performance data and make adjustments to ad content based on what resonates with your target audience.

Analyze ad copy performance and suggest or automatically create variations to improve click-through rates and conversions.

Schedule rule-based tests for ad copy variations and automatically apply winning variations to campaigns.

Ad scheduling 

  • Change the settings in your Seller account whenever you want to schedule ads. 

Optimize ad scheduling to target peak shopping times and days, adjusting bid strategies accordingly.

Define rules for adjusting ad schedules, such as increasing bids during peak hours or pausing campaigns during non-converting times.

Pausing and resuming ads

  • Change the settings in your Seller account whenever you want to start and stop ads. 
Allow AI algorithms to decide which ads aren't profitable and start/stop them to optimize your ad budget. 

Automatically pause or resume campaigns based on factors you set like inventory levels, seasonal trends, or budget constraints.

Competitive analysis and repricing 

  • Keep an eye on your competitors and their advertising strategies.
  • Adjust your bidding and advertising tactics in response to changes in the competitive landscape.
  • You could also use a competitor price surveillance tool to cut down the manual work.

Weighs multiple metrics to determine the best price for sellers' items. It can maximize profitability by adjusting prices in real-time for better positioning.

After collecting competitors' prices manually, you can use this data to create rules that reprice your products.

Even with automation, your Amazon PPC ads shouldn’t be a “set it and forget it” campaign. Here is what you should regularly keep an eye on regardless of which automation tactic you choose:

Regular Monitoring

Frequent monitoring is crucial for keeping an eye on your ad spend and ensuring that campaigns are running smoothly. Be sure to check for any significant changes in key metrics like click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and advertising cost of sales (ACOS).

If you see that your campaigns are reaching their daily or monthly limits, then consider adjusting your budget allocation with rule-based automation, or your advertising goals with AI automation. 

It’s also a good rule of thumb to monitor the performance of high-value or high-traffic campaigns more frequently.

Testing New Strategies

As the market is constantly changing, you can experiment with new campaign types, ad formats, targeting options, and bidding strategies. This way you can identify what works best for your products seasonally or in the midst of any ongoing trends.

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A closer look at Amazon PPC AI automation

AI automation relies on machine learning algorithms and data analysis to make decisions about your PPC ad campaigns. 

To optimize your ad campaigns automatically, it can take information such as:

  • Historical performance data
  • Click-through rates, conversion rates
  • Other relevant metrics

These AI algorithms can adapt to changing market conditions and user behavior, making real-time adjustments to bid strategies, keyword targeting, and ad placements.

It can be highly effective in maximizing ROI (Return on Investment) and minimizing wasted ad spend by continuously optimizing your campaigns based on data-driven insights.

When to use Amazon PPC AI automation for your campaigns:

Use AI automation when you have a large volume of data and campaigns to manage, as it can efficiently handle complex tasks and ongoing optimizations. It's particularly beneficial when dealing with dynamic markets or seasonal fluctuations where manual adjustments may be insufficient or time-consuming.

This is a suitable option for advertisers looking to achieve the best possible results and are willing to trust machine learning algorithms to make real-time decisions.

However, you should make sure that your current strategies and campaign goals are working well before scaling them with AI. If not, you may get more of the same undesired results just on a bigger scale.

Areas AI can produce better PPC results than rule-based automation

Audience targeting 

AI automation can provide advertisers with valuable insights into their audience's behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns. By analyzing data such as demographics, geography, and device usage, AI algorithms can help advertisers tailor their campaigns to specific audiences. Shoppers will see ads hyper-personalized to them, making them more inclined to buy. 

This in-depth data analysis can also lead to finding new audiences that will also be interested in your products that you haven’t thought to target previously.

Finding the best ad copy

By testing different ad variations and analyzing their performance, AI algorithms can identify which ad copy will resonate with your audience and drive higher click-through and conversion rates. Using AI can accomplish this at a much faster speed than manually conducting A/B tests.

How does Amazon use AI for advertising?

Amazon has created generative AI features to help sellers create product listings. They aim to simplify the listing creation and management experience. 

amazon product listing ai

Sellers can use Amazon’s machine learning models to create more thorough and captivating product descriptions, titles, and listing details with less effort. By using this technology, sellers can save time and provide more relevant listings for shoppers.

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A closer look at rule-based automation for Amazon PPC ads

Rule-based automation involves setting specific rules or conditions for your ad campaigns. These rules are based on predetermined criteria and are often implemented through Amazon's advertising platform or PPC management tools. With this option, the knowledge and expertise of the PPC campaign manager is vital. 

Advertisers define rules based on factors like:

  • Keyword performance
  • Budget allocation 
  • Ad position
  • ACOS (Advertising Cost of Sales)

When these conditions are met, the automation tool executes the specified actions.

Rule-based automation provides more manual control over your campaigns and allows you to implement your own strategies and insights.

When to use rule-based automation for Amazon PPC ads:

Rule-based automation is suitable for advertisers who want to maintain a higher level of control over their campaigns and have specific strategies in mind. It's beneficial when you have a limited budget or are in a niche market with unique advertising requirements.

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How to pick the best Amazon PPC automation software

Whether you decide to go with rule-based, AI, or a hybrid of the two, how do you decide on which software to use? It’s important to choose one that closely fits your needs. 

It's a good idea to request demos or trials to ensure that the software aligns with your requirements and workflow as well as checking the software’s reputation by going through customer reviews.

Here are some 5 criteria you should consider: 

  1. Ease of use

    Look for a platform that offers intuitive navigation, clear instructions, and a straightforward setup process. If you’re new to selling on Amazon, you can also look for software that provides resources for beginners.

  2. Pricing

    Consider how the software's pricing aligns with your budget and the expected return on investment (ROI) from your Amazon PPC campaigns. The most expensive software isn't always the best for your specific needs, so seek a balance between affordability and features.

  3. Features

    Look for software that offers the automation and optimization capabilities that matter most to your advertising goals. It should be able to handle your campaign complexities, such as multiple ad formats (Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, etc.) and campaign segmentation.

  4. Integration

    Consider how well the software integrates with your existing tools and workflow. It should seamlessly connect with Amazon's advertising platform and provide easy data access and synchronization.

    Integration with other analytics, eCommerce, or inventory management systems you use can further enhance your campaign management efficiency.

  5. Analytics

    Look for software that provides comprehensive reporting features, including metrics like ACOS, CTR, conversion rates, and revenue. Another bonus could be whether or not the software offers customizable dashboards and the ability to export data for further analysis.

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Final verdict: Should you choose AI or rule-based automation for Amazon PPC ads?

The choice between AI-based and rule-based automation depends on three main areas: 

  • Your specific advertising goals
  • The complexity of your campaigns
  • Your level of comfort with automation

When should you use AI-based automation for Amazon PPC ads?

AI automation is ideal for those seeking advanced optimization and have a large-scale advertising operation.

When should you use rule-based automation for Amazon PPC ads?

Rule-based automation is better for those who want more hands-on control or have specific campaign strategies in mind.

Creating a hybrid approach

Some advertisers prefer a hybrid approach, combining the strengths of both AI and rule-based strategies to achieve optimal results. This can be a viable option if you discover a tool that offers both. 

Either way, it's essential to regularly monitor and adjust your automation rules or algorithms to adapt to changing market conditions and performance metrics.

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  1. What are the benefits of automation for Amazon PPC ads?

    Enhancing your Amazon Sponsored ads with automation saves you time on repetitive manual tasks, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your ads and listings.

    This in turn can give you an edge over your top competitors by leading to improved ad performance and increased sales. You can accomplish this through optimizing bids, targeting strategies, and ad placements based on data-driven insights (AI) or your own experience (rule-based).

  2. What is AI-based automation?

    Automation powered by AI analyzes large amounts of data, such as historical performance data, click-through rates, and conversion rates, to continuously learn and adjust strategies in real-time.

  3. How can AI-based automation be applied to Amazon paid ads?

    It can optimize bid adjustments, automatically adjust keyword bids in real-time, determine negative keywords based on performance thresholds, allocate budgets among campaigns, ad groups, or keywords, and suggest ad copy variations to improve click-through rates and conversions.

  4. What is rule-based automation?

    Rule-based automation involves setting specific rules or conditions. When these conditions are met, the automation tool executes the specified actions. This allows you to have more manual control over your campaigns so that you can implement your own strategies and insights.

  5. How can rule-based automation be applied to Amazon paid ads?

    Rule-based can automate campaign aspects like bid adjustments. For example, you can set specific rules to increase bids for high-converting keywords or products and decrease bids for underperforming ones.

    It can also automate the addition or removal of negative keywords based on performance thresholds, allocate budgets among campaigns or keywords based on predefined criteria, and schedule tests for ad copy variations.

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