How to Calculate Break-even ACoS on Amazon


For any Amazon seller getting into the world of sponsored advertising, understanding the Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS) is crucial. But ACoS alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

What truly separates profitable campaigns from money-losers is the concept of break-even ACoS.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into break-even ACoS, equipping you with the knowledge to optimize your Amazon ad campaigns and maximize your return on investment.

What is ACoS and Why Does it Matter?

ACoS, simply put, is the percentage of your advertising spend compared to your total sales revenue generated from those ads. It’s calculated using the following formula:

ACoS = (Ad Spend / Ad Revenue) x 100%

For instance, if you spend $25 on advertising and generate $100 in sales from those ads, your ACoS would be 25%.

A lower ACoS generally indicates a more efficient campaign, as you’re spending less to acquire each sale.

However, ACoS doesn’t consider your product’s profitability. You could have a very low ACoS, but if your ad spend devours all your profit margin, your campaign is essentially losing money.

This is where the concept of break-even Amazon ACOS comes in.

What is Breakeven ACoS and Why Does it Matter?

Break-even ACoS represents the ACoS threshold where your ad spend equals your profit margin. In simpler terms, it’s the maximum ACoS you can incur without experiencing a loss on your advertised products.

Understanding your break-even ACoS empowers you to:

  • Set Realistic Campaign Goals: By knowing your break-even point, you can set targeted ACoS goals that ensure profitability.

  • Optimize Bidding Strategies: The insights derived from understanding break-even ACoS empower you to make informed adjustments to your bids on keywords and products, enabling you to stay within the profitable ACoS range.

  • Evaluate Campaign Performance: Break-even ACoS acts as a reliable benchmark, offering a metric to assess the effectiveness of your campaigns. If your ACoS consistently surpasses this threshold, it serves as a signal to reevaluate your targeting or optimize your product listings for better results.

How to Calculate Break-even ACoS?

Calculating your break-even ACoS is a straightforward process that requires a few key pieces of information:

  1. Selling Price: The price at which you sell your product on Amazon.

  2. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This includes all the direct costs associated with producing or acquiring your product, such as materials, labor, and manufacturing.

  3. Amazon Fees: These include fulfillment fees, storage fees, and any other relevant Amazon selling fees.

Here’s the formula to calculate your break-even ACoS:

Break-Even ACoS = [(Selling Price – COGS – Amazon Fees) / Selling Price] x 100%

Let’s walk through an example:

  • Selling Price: $20

  • COGS: $8

  • Amazon Fees: $3

Following the formula:

Break-Even ACoS = [($20 – $8 – $3) / $20] x 100% = (9 / 20) x 100% = 45%

In this example, your break-even ACoS is 45%. This means that as long as your ACoS remains below 45%, your advertising campaign is generating a profit. Conversely, if your ACoS goes above 45%, you’re starting to lose money on your ads.

Beyond the Basics: Factors to Consider

While the break-even ACoS formula is a great starting point, it’s essential to consider additional factors to paint a more complete picture:

  • Product Lifecycle Stage: New products often necessitate a higher initial ACoS to gain visibility and establish brand awareness. As your product matures in the market, you can aim for a lower ACoS.

  • Competitive Landscape: Highly competitive niches might demand a higher ACoS to win bids on relevant keywords. However, with strategic optimization, you can potentially decrease your ACoS over time.

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Consider the potential long-term value of a customer acquired through advertising. Even if your initial ACoS is higher than your break-even point, the customer’s future purchases might make the campaign profitable in the long run. Here, factoring in CLV can help you make informed decisions about acceptable ACoS levels for specific customer segments.

Campaign Optimization Techniques to Hit Your Target ACoS

Here are some methods to keep your ACoS in check:

Go niche with long-tail keywords: Ditch broad keywords that attract shoppers with very broad shopping intent. Instead, target long-tail keywords with lower competition. These laser-focused phrases indicate higher purchase intent, leading to better conversions and potentially lower ACoS. For instance, targeting the keyword “best travel mugs for toddlers” instead of just “mugs” can be a wise decision if your goal is to improve ACoS.

Remove irrelevant clicks: Identify and exclude negative keywords that don’t convert. This prevents wasted ad spend on clicks from people who are unlikely to buy your product.

Optimize bids: Regularly monitor the CPC and conversion rate of your keyword/product target, and if a keyword/product has a high CPC and low conversion rate, ensure you lower the bids.

Optimize ads based on hourly performance: Analyze data to see when your ad campaign performs best throughout the day. Schedule your ads to run during these peak hours to maximize efficiency and potentially lower your ACoS.

Optimize for best-performing ad placement: Amazon allows you to bid differently for different ad placements. Target placements that have historically yielded better conversion rates for your product category.

High-quality images: Professional product images are essential for grabbing attention and showcasing your product’s features in detail. Invest in high-resolution photos that showcase your product from multiple angles.

Compelling listing: Write clear, informative listing copy that highlights features, benefits, and addresses any potential customer pain points. Focus on keywords but prioritize readability and avoid sounding robotic.

Get more reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews. Positive reviews build trust, social proof, and can significantly improve conversion rates.

Become a data detective: Regularly monitor campaign performance. Track key metrics like ACoS, sales, conversion rates, and click-through rates (CTR). Analyze this data to identify areas for improvement.

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Final Thoughts

Understanding break-even ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sales) enables you to effectively manage your Amazon Advertising campaigns. It helps you make well-informed decisions regarding your advertising budget, ensuring that your campaigns not only generate sales but also sustainable profitability. 

Keep in mind that break-even ACoS serves as a helpful reference point rather than a strict endpoint. As you gain experience and fine-tune your strategies, you can consistently optimize your target ACoS to achieve the optimal balance between sales and profit.

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