TPP005 – Getting more technical with Amazon algorithms and PPC with Tarik Berrada

When Howard sees some talent that would be very interesting for his masterminds and events, he remembers them. And for our guest today, Tarik Berrada, Howard was very interested in what he had to do, say, and what he's all about. In Amazon today, there is a new reality, a new frontier, and this guy is leading the forefront. The Professor would say that Tarik is among the leading top AI specialists for PPC. So we've got Amazon algorithms, traffic, and a bunch of other topics that we're going to jump into here with our special guest. 

Topics Covered In this Episode

  • First ever Inagural Professor'S Pandemic Event

    Interact with with the actual speakers, other attendees and of course, the Professor himself. These event will really bring out the best of the best in Amazon.

  • Introduce Tarik Berrada

    Howard says he is one of the leading top AI specialists for PPC.

  • What is AI?

    For people who don't understand what AI is, can you explain it a little bit more for them?

  • Tarik Berrada's Edge

    He is thinking out of the box because of his three hats: the technical, the statistical, and the business hat.


    Good and bad practices in PPC management, automation against manual or rule-based management, the best practices to do PPC campaign structuring, techniques to grab market shares from competitors using PPC and product targeting, and importance of organic ranking in PPC and its impact

  • do you see an impact on people's organic rank running PPC?

    There’s a huge impact, I would say.

  • what kind of improvements have you seen with what sellers are obsessed with?

    The ACOS in using AI versus using traditional rules based management.

  • Problems Amazon sellers have right now in 2020

    Like what problems do you see as a result of the pandemic in your industry?

  • What are the mistakes most people make in their PPC campaigns?

    What kind of tip can you give these people?

  • what opportunities do you see for the sellers on Amazon now and beyond the pandemic?

    What opportunity do you see as a result of this current pandemic? What do you see on the forefront and specifically what do you see maybe on the forefront for PPC since that is your expertise?


    This event will really be a game changer because we will be talking about a lot of high tech tools that you can use, as well as, waiting and bringing in external traffic into your listings to improve ranking.

The Professor's Pandemic Event

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Podcast Transcription

[00:00:00] Welcome to The Professor’s Podcast where we discuss the best strategies to massively improve the reach and bottom line of your business in the current virtual and economic landscape. Your host, Howard Thai, generates over $5 billion for his clients annually using innovative tactics, both on and off Amazon.

[00:00:21] Welcome to The Professor’s Podcast, and as usual, I'm your host, Hurricane Liz. I'm typically the emcee at Howard’s High Level masterminds, and again, people pay upwards of $12,000 plus to actually attend these masterminds. And in this series of podcasts, we're going to begin by interviewing the next set of guests at the Professor's Pandemic Event, which is all new, fresh, and it's fire right now, and it's at the end of June.

[00:00:49] So Howard is here with me as always. My partner in crime, Mr. Howard Thai, the Professor. Howard, how excited are you about these guests and the event at the end of June? So these guests are handpicked by me because I go all over the world and I meet a lot of people. So when I see some talent that I see that would be very interesting for our masterminds or events and stuff, I kind of remember them.

[00:01:17] And especially for Tarik, I kind of actually was very interested in what he had to do, say, and, and what he's all about. So I don't want to say too much, but I want him to talk about what he does. So let's let that happen. Right. So Tarik is here with us, and I'll introduce you here to him shortly. And as Howard said, he's deeming the next six to 18 months on Amazon and beyond as the new frontier for Amazon.

[00:01:45] And one of the things leading the way is actual traffic. So we've got traffic and a bunch of other topics that we're going to jump into here with Tarik. But first, I just want to remind you that typically when we do one of these professors masterminds, they're usually [innovators, hackathons, we call them where the best of the best, the brightest.

[00:02:04] In fact, last time at the one in Mexico, a couple months back, the combined total income of all the attendees in just that one event was over $400 million in a single month. Is that about right Howard? Is that the caliber of people you're usually drawing to these actual events that are sharing their deepest strategies, especially after a lot of Corona.

[00:02:25] Well, they're, yeah, it's these, these masterminds really bring out the best of the best because usually they don't come out or like they, they're hidden kind of. So when these master minds come out today, they all like, right, I'll come out of anywhere. I like people that we don't think that they are big sellers that they can actually pop out and sign up from out of nowhere.

[00:02:49] So this is really cool because this is happening. It's happening often nowadays. Right, and I just want to remind people the format of this one is going to be a little bit different. You're going to be able to attend from the comfort of your own home, which is what we like best, right? At the end of the day, we're all Amazon sellers and we all like to just sit nice and cozy in our house.

[00:03:08] We're all very introverted like that. And you're going to get to see it live online and be able to interact with the actual speakers as well as other attendees and of course, the Professor himself. So this guy right here that I'm about to introduce, I've heard a lot of great things about him and he just wowed me a minute ago when I found out exactly what it is he did.

[00:03:28] It seems that I'm falling a little behind Howie, I'm still back in the old days of Amazon and there is a new reality, and as we called it, a new frontier. And this guy is leading the forefront, would you say that's correct, Howard? Correct. One of the, I would say the leading top A9 specialists, AI specialists for PPC.

[00:03:51] Right? That's almost a tongue twister, A9, AI. And in fact, as I look at him here, Tarik for those you guys that are actually watching this as opposed to listening to Tarik, I look at you and it's Tarik Berrada here. I look at you and I just look at you and I see a smart guy. You literally look extremely smart.

[00:04:09] So I'm excited to see what you have to share with us. So I want to play a game with you here Tarik. This is what I usually do with every guest that comes on first. Howard and I are going to tag team you and as like I said before, I know those dirty guys out there. It's not that kind of tag team, but we're going to do here is we're going to take turns asking you questions and the first question is a hypothetical situation.

[00:04:30] Let's pretend you and Howie are on the elevator. You know, he is the man, the myth, the legend of Amazon. And, you have two minutes to tell him what you're so good at, that you're going to wow his crowd at the Professor's Pandemic Event, online, first time ever. All right, perfect. I can make it even shorter than two minutes, two minutes.

[00:04:53] So I would start with my background. After six years in research and development for advertising algorithms as machine learning engineer, like in a very famous advertising French company, I co-founded in ‘19 and built a strong and powerful optimization engine. So this engine was built with by me and the team in less than four months.

[00:05:19] And our first fully automated solution, we're already live and a lot of like more than 20 clients, were live after four months from the start. So we had a strong engine powered by machine learning and AI that is managing millions of ad spends after four months. It's really something impressive in these areas.

[00:05:44] So my engineering background working on optimization algorithms helped me have a clear view on how Amazon algorithms and internal auctions work. So this is like my expertise. So these complex systems use the same principles. The ones I already dealt with in my previous experience on ad words.

[00:06:09] So my real expertise is there in knowing how Amazon algorithms are working internally, how their internal auction are working, because all these complex systems are the same between Amazon ad words and Facebook advertising. I know I just said it before that about what your, your expertise is, but maybe you can tell me more deep into your deep domain expertise of exactly what it is.

[00:06:41] People that are, didn't understand what AI is. Can you explain it a little bit more for them? Like in a simpler way? I know you just said what you said, so go ahead. Perfect. Okay, so AI is the new era. The old one is rule-based or manual management. Yeah. In fact, it's just the step after rule based system.

[00:07:03] It's that kind of rule-based that is automated and that is done at the way frequent level that is way easier to maintain. And that is always taken into consideration and into account noise, computation, and statistical significance. So the AI, yes, only kind of competition algorithms that are taking a huge amount of decisions that are better than decisions that can be taken by a rule or by a human, because it is able to see which data is significant and which data it is not.

[00:07:41] And it's also able to compute what is the noise and what is the statistical significance. So this is basically what the AI is. So can you tell us how you think outside the box compared to your other competitors? Yeah. So I would say that's, I would again come back to my scientific and engineering background.

[00:08:03] So that helped me get this clear view on how the Amazon system is working to hide behind the scenes. I can see that a lot of my competitors come from the route based model or they don't have this deep expertise on the, technical part of the algorithm themselves. Because I used to work in a company

[00:08:23] That was offered systems like Amazon. So it's like if I was working on the algorithms on Amazon site, so I know this other side of, of the area. So the, another thing that I think is important is my developer background. So I coded on our system or the integration with the API. So I know like the API part of Amazon, I know which data is available, which is doable and what is not, and they can decide quickly what can be done.

[00:08:57] So I have this technical hat as a developer and they have also the statistic, the statistical hat as an engineer of machine learning. So I worked with different prediction models, like I don't know how accustomed you are with neural, neural network, regressing models, et cetera. So all these different prediction models

[00:09:17] I worked with them in the past, and also I'm working with them now. So I have this statistical hat and my last hat is the business. The business hat because of my, all of this work I'm doing with a whole word and with a lot of other sellers that has given me this extra knowledge about the business part of the business life of an Amazon seller.

[00:09:41] So I'm kind of thinking out of the box because of these three hats, the technical, the statistical, and the business one. It's the combination between these three. You know, Tarik, it sounds to me like you've got an insane amount of knowledge and experience working in not only Amazon, but you mentioned Google ad words, and I'm guessing Facebook and all kinds of different DSP platforms, but let me ask you this question.

[00:10:04] Obviously we're going to all be a bunch of Amazon sellers, and external traffic is extremely important to Amazon sellers. If you're not doing it, then you're clearly missing out. But what three to five topics do you think you could talk about during this Professor's Pandemic Event that would absolutely

[00:10:21] wow people. Yeah. I like this question because I will, I will give you the topics I really love and I love to talk about. So the first one is the Good and Bad Practices in PPC Management. I saw a lot of bad practices that can be fixed pretty quickly and they can help with some good ones without even using AI.

[00:10:44] So the first topic is good and bad practices in PPC management. The second one is kind of related to our third question it’s Automation Against Manual or Rule-based management. So, I love this topic and they can discuss and talk about it for a longer period of time. There is another topic related to how you do

[00:11:05] Campaign structuring, like what are the best practices to do PPC campaign structuring? So it's a bit different from the first one, which is good and bad practices. Here it's how you do have the best structure in order to cover in the best way, all the keywords, all the competition and everything for your, your account.

[00:11:23] So it's more a structure topic. Then another one that I love is techniques to grab market shares from competitors using PPC and product targeting. So we can also talk a lot about this. There are different techniques, some techniques are costly and others are more powerful than the ones that might be costly.

[00:11:46] Yeah. There is also the big topic, which is like more and more important, and we can approve it. Howard can also approve it. He has a lot of data related to it is the important importance of organic ranking in PPC and the impact of PPC on organicranking. So this is a very important topic that is more and more coming in conversations in communities and in groups.

[00:12:10] And I don't see a lot of content that is addressing it the right way. And the last one, which is more attractive subject I can talk about, is how to explore it and use and to make the best use of data from Amazon, either PPC reports or Brand analytics reports so how to take the most advantage of, of this.

[00:12:33] So these are the five topics I can talk.

[00:12:38] I'm super excited for this. I've got actually too many questions. So the first one, you obviously don't want to spill the beans for all the audience because I'm sure that judging by your tonality and how you said it, you really feel that your answer here has been, nobody's been able to represent the proper answer for this question, but do you see an impact on people's organic rank running PPC?

[00:13:00] And you could just say yes or no, and we won't, we won't, well we won't spoil your actual presentation. There’s a huge impact, I would say. We saw it with Howard in different cases, and we have graphs that are showing it like it's, there’s a huge impact. Right? Because there's obviously a huge debate among Amazon sellers, I've heard really high level Amazon sellers saying they've refused to do PPC and it doesn't work.

[00:13:26] And so I've seen it back and forth, and I've also been hearing this. I've been tempted to turn off my PPC because of this. But let me ask you one more question. Just one disclaimer, one disclaimer that it might be the case two years ago. But one year ago, and now it's not the case anymore. Maybe in the past it was the case, but now if you don't do PPC, you might lose your organic rank or you want to get more opportunities there.

[00:13:54] Wow. Amazing. Okay, so I know to keep it on now you see, I already learned something just by hosting the show. And the second question is what kind of improvements have you seen with what sellers are obsessed with, which is obviously the ACOS or the A-C-O-S in using AI versus using traditional rules based management.

[00:14:15] I saw a lot of different results. So I saw accounts maintaining the same, equals, doubling or tripling the sales. I saw accounts increase in their ACOS, but increasing all of their sales, and I saw accounts decreasing the ACOS and crashing their sales. So AI by itself, it's not the solution. AI with the right brain behind it that is telling the AI what to do,

[00:14:44] So if you misuse the AI, it won't work. So it's you who tell the AI what to do. So depending on the strategies you have and the strategies you want to put in place, either increase, decrease, or maintain your ACOS, work on the organic or not, depending on what you have in mind and which strategy you have, the AI will help you do that.

[00:15:05] The AI by itself doesn't have like an impact on increase or decrease in the ACOS cause the right AI is the AI that is exactly applying what you are telling it to do in the most efficient and easy way. So I really relate to Tarik because I'm also coming from the programming side bar, computer science and stuff.

[00:15:29] So when I met him in Prague, I was so fascinated in what he was talking about. I just think he's, I think it was like after 30 minutes I'm like, this is the guy, you know. So now I'm working really closely with him, with our projects and stuff like that with his AI core and stuff. So, so regarding, I wanted to ask you about what kind of problems do you see Amazon sellers are happening, having in 2020 especially this pandemic, you know, regarding your industry.

[00:15:57] Yeah. So, I'm seeing a bunch of problems, but I think it's, it's common. It's common, common problems that you already know about. So, the first one that I'm seeing more and more is, inventory-related problems. So this is obvious. People didn't plan this or they are having inventory problems. The second one is, say there's we're not ready.

[00:16:20] To manage if FBM in parallel of FBA. So there were men, like I know a lot of clients that are fully FBA and now they're kind of stuck because they didn't prepare if the inside of it and now they need to have, if the parallel to the FBM. Last problem I'm seeing is there is no clear and adapted PPC strategy to take advantage of low competition during the spirit because of what I said before, because of inventory related problems, FBA problems, there is opportunity.

[00:16:53] There is low competitions in a lot of categories that people are not clear on how to take advantage for it. People that are stuck, if they do the right PPC, it will be more powerful than before because of what the other sellers are seeing as issue. So the third issue I'm seeing is people not knowing how to deal with this period in terms of taking advantage of this low competition period.

[00:17:19] That's amazing Tarik. You know, I've learned a lot just by talking to you already. What I'm really curious, and I'm sure a lot of people are out there cause it looks like you have such a solid background in PPC and PPC management and rules-based systems as well as now AI. I'm curious to know what kind of tip can you give people?

[00:17:36] What's the single biggest mistake you see most people making in their PPC campaigns? There are a lot of them. The first one is, is, is, is the obvious one is running out of budget during the day. So you just live in room to your competitors to take over your struck keyword or your branded keyword.

[00:17:55] So this is the obvious one. And let me give you another one, which is running a lot of keyword matching types that are overlapping. So let's say you have short keywords that are using as exact phrase and word and duplicating all matching types. So you will end up with this different dimension types.

[00:18:15] You end up matching the same search term with different entry points, and I'm assuming we'll just pick the one with the highest bids and you will end up paying the highest for everyone. So with a clear structure, you can reduce your costs by controlling that kind of overlapping between different matching.

[00:18:37] So yeah, so the most obvious one is the overlapping between matching and the budget problem. I'm running out of budget before the end of the day. So I wanted to, I know that you said something about the opportunity of FBM. I always believe that FBM is the core to making sure that you have a stable eCommerce business.

[00:18:57] Not just always depend on FBA or Amazon because cause FBM if you really are big seller, you would need it. So you can also have a fill through all the other different channels, even, you know, Shopify or let's say eBay or Walmart or something like that. But, but for every, if you are hardcore seller on each country that you work, that you sell on, you should and be able to create a fulfillment center within that country and start making sure that you have a good foundation in there, in that country.

[00:19:30] So what kind of opportunities now since, into 2020 that you think that happens on sellers, seeing the pandemic days now. All right. For the opportunities, the obvious one is that there will be more and more online shopping. So the behaviors will change. So the market will be bigger. This is the most obvious one.

[00:19:52] Then there, there's something related to PPC strategies to grab market share from competitors that are temporarily out of stock or impacted by the crisis. So this is also an opportunity to take now, because many people are handling, are not well handling the crisis. So if you can get this market share now, it's a good opportunity.

[00:20:16] Amazing Tarik. So let me ask you this question. I know that those opportunities covered 2020 but I don't know, call me crazy, but I just see this pandemic and the effects of it lasting much longer. And even in 2020 and for me as an Amazon seller, I'm looking to figure out what opportunities we have in the next 18 months or so.

[00:20:37] What do you see on the forefront and specifically what do you see maybe on the forefront for PPC since that is your expertise? Or maybe you have some other insight that I don't already know. Okay. So in my engineering back ground, we start by defining the problems, to try to find the opportunities.

[00:20:59] So you are asking me about opportunities in the next 18 months. Let me just tell you my, quickly, my thoughts about the problems that I'm seeing in the 18 months on Amazon for Amazon sellers. And from that, I will just give you my opinion on opportunities. So the future problem I'm seeing is mainly the competition from big brands that are investing heavily in E-retail.

[00:21:25] After this, this crisis. So big brands are now blocked because like the brick and mortar has slowed a lot. They have a lot of budgets to put on advertising, so they will invest heavily and this will hire the competition and hire the PPCs. And these big brands have huge budgets. So it will be hard for smaller centers.

[00:21:48] So this is a very big problem I've seen for, for the future is the shift of strategy, advertising strategy for big brands. I'm also seeing a bigger dependence on advertising to maintain organic rank because of this competition. So if the more we go, the more it will be hard to maintain organic if you don't invest in PPC.

[00:22:11] So it will make things more expensive. And the last one is the unfair competition from Amazon’s own brands. That's overall increases, and the overall increase of Amazon fees of the result of being dependent on the Amazon, Amazon monopoly. So Amazon, in my opinion, is not very fair because of their own brands, even if they are not handling it the right way.

[00:22:38] But at the end, they have, they have the data, they know our data, they know seller's data, they can work on it to improve their own brands. And, they are improving. And gradually they are still improving it and this dependence on Amazon, Amazon is getting stronger and stronger. So this strong dependence on Amazon is, might be, in my opinion, a problem in the future.

[00:23:01] So from this problem, we can see, let's see, the bright side of it, is for sure the acceleration of online purchases. People are willing to buy more and more on online. The big opportunity is that some categories, moving online from a brick and mortar, so new opportunities in virtual that worked traditionally offline.

[00:23:26] So I, for example, at least in Europe, maybe in US it was already a bit the case, but I am pretty sure that it will accelerate a lot. All the cleaning, for example, cleaning products in Europe or people were accustomed to buy them from brick and mortar stores. And now I can, I even heard from some even Henkel and some very famous cleaning brands that are investing heavily online because people will buy that kind of products online.

[00:23:55] So this, this moving from brick and mortar to online for some categories. So it's going to be an opportunity for sellers who would want to expand. I think there would be fewer competitions because small ones will survive the crisis unfortunately. So, there will be fewer actors, but stronger ones. And at the end the market will be bigger.

[00:24:17] So it's also an opportunity for all the remaining people on the Amazon side. So I really do love like advertising and PPC and DSP and everything like that because right now Amazon's trend is all about getting into like Advertising and stuff. So they were actually making a lot of money off advertising.

[00:24:37] So if even if you notice like one year or one year before, it was mainly organic, would be on the first page or something like that. And then you can, you know, very little spots for a sponsored products and stuff like that. But now it's more and more into sponsored products. You can see all the targeted product targeting ads and all that, that can be done with sponsored.

[00:25:01] So it's really, Amazon's trying to make it so it's more you need to pay, pay to play kind of game so that's why advertising is a very heavily used opportunity for the big sellers right now. All the big sellers I know is actually, actually using, investing a lot heavily into their PPC strategies and also maybe external DSP style traffic.

[00:25:30] I'm talking about like eight figure sellers. They're all very, why they, why are they so big? Why are they, how did they get so big? Because they're very agile, they adapt to change. It's really fast and when you're talking about PPC. They know about the old fashion, you know, ways to do it rule-based. Now they're all jumping onto like AI and getting AI to their, their PPC strategies.

[00:25:57] Because, you know, AI is adaptable. It changes every day, you know, so instead of rule-based, you just leave it and forget it. Even if you do have a really good person that keeps on looking at it and they're not going to do it every day, you can't depend on a person. But a machine as well as a person behind there that's telling the machine what to do.

[00:26:17] That's, that really matters. So let's wrap it up and I wanted to see if you have any final words for our audience here or anything you want to tell them about yourself. Yeah, I want to leave it at the fact that advertising on Amazon is becoming more and more vital, competitive, and complex. So my recommendation to sellers and brands is to prepare to fight in this PPC zone or arena and build a strong and clear advertising strategy.

[00:26:49] Otherwise it will be very hard for them to compete in the coming months, so be prepared. It will be more and more competitive. Don't focus only on lowering the ACOS. It's not the right way to do it. You need to have a more advanced strategy there. Advertising will be a must-have in the future. Absolutely.

[00:27:10] That was amazing Tarik. You know, you showed me that it's probably time I get out my PPC textbook and I dusted off because I really need to touch up on some of those pointers that you gave me and I'm really excited to see what you're going to actually pick to speak at, at the event. I know that people are going to be wowed.

[00:27:26] And just the fact of the matter that you are one of the pioneers in this new artificial intelligence age on Amazon is super exciting for me. I know that for a fact. I haven't seen anything like this talked about before, so I, for one am super fired up for that. Howie, how do you feel about what he's going to deliver here at the first ever Professor's Pandemic Event or

[00:27:50] Well, I already know he's going to do a good job because I, this guy, I talked to him every day. It seems like, I believe I do talk to him every day, but I know what he, I know what he has. I know what, what kind of stuff that he knows and very impressive. Impressive. And you guys will love it. I believe it.

[00:28:08] Awesome. Amazing. Again, Tarik, thank you so much. And as usual, thank you Howard, for hosting this Professor's Podcast and for hosting the upcoming Professor's Pandemic Event, which again, if you want more details about, you can go to And remember, you get to attend that straight from the comfort of your own home, so you don't have to worry about all the things going out in the world.

[00:28:30] But I will say this much. You can pretty much guarantee that one simple tactic from there can really make you a lot of money. In fact, I got one. It's a huge benefit just for being the emcee of the event. I took one tip from the last mastermind and instantly not only ranked my products to page one pretty quickly.

[00:28:49] I even showed Howard what I did and he was rather impressed with what I learned there. Were you not Howard? Yeah, so just goes to show that even low lower level sellers like me can actually do something with the information that they get. And they can crush Amazon and their competitors. So I look forward to seeing you guys on the next one where we will have the next handpicked person that the professor found by traveling all over the world still during this pandemic.

[00:29:15] So any last words from you, Howie. Nothing right now. So I just hope that everyone that listened to the podcast here and about this event and I think about it, this is really a game changer, this event, because this is going to be talking about a lot of high tech, high tech tools that you can use as well as waiting and bringing in external traffic into your listings to improve ranking.

[00:29:38] And be smarter. Just don't give away products like rebates, like, like a hundred percent and everything. You gotta, you know, know how to save money through other ways and be able to still rank on the first page with that kind of knowledge. So guys, I guess we'll see you there. Awesome. Peace out. And again,

[00:30:01] Thanks so much. Thanks. Bye. Bye. Welcome to the Professors Podcast where we discuss the best strategies to massively improve the reach and bottom line of your business in the current virtual and economic landscape. Your host, Howard Thai, generates over $5 billion for his clients annually using innovative tactics, both on and off Amazon.