I want to start this by saying that I am by no means an expert. This is only what I’ve learned about Amazon ads from a very narrow perspective and the results from that experience.
I have been running my add for about 20 days now. I’ve learned quite a bit, but I think I still have a long way to go before I feel like I have a solid feel for how it all works. I’ve honestly been pleased even though there have been a few mixed results with it.
The type of campaign I chose was a manual targeted campaign by genre as a sponsored product. You can also do one that targets keywords or you can allow Amazon to run the direction with automatic targeting. There are a couple of different options for placement. You can be a sponsored product or you can choose to show up on lockscreens. These settings cannot be changed (that I’ve found) once you’ve begun your campaign.
Ads are based on bids for a per click price. There are lots of different options for setting this up and I won’t go into that here, but these are things that you can change at any time throughout the life of the ad.
I initially attempted to target two different genres, neither of which were what I would have said my main genre was (not sure why I missed my main one when I set it up, but… ), but one wasn’t one that is a breakdown of genres in the menu list, but something you often see related to rankings. This is something I’ve never fully understood about Amazon, but it has been where I saw every bit of my success. I would normally say my main genre is Family Life Fiction as this is the menu option when searching for books. What I tripped across when setting up my ad was Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, which isn’t in that breakdown list, but is one of my ranking categories. The most significant difference from what I could see between these two with regards to my ad was the fact that the top of the bid price range for the WDLF genre was less than half that of the FLF genre.
There is a lot to figure out with regards to bid price, how that translates into cost per click and, what isn’t something your ad metrics track, the percentage of those clicks that translate into a sale. The biggest problem I seem to have run into is trying to find the sweet spot of a price per click result that at least broke even to the amount I made per book sale. The metrics in your ad only shows you total dollars sold and total orders, so you have to do some work outside of your reporting to figure all this out (and thankfully I’m married to a math geek to help me with all that) because orders also does not equal number of books. If someone bought 5 books, it only shows as one order, so this throws things off. Every single one of these pieces vary depending on how much you make per book, which may be different for an ebook than it is for a paperback.
I still don’t completely understand the purpose of the bid range, but I did see that if I had my bid price at the high end, if not just over the max, I got a lot of impressions, clicks and at least an order per day. That is awesome to an extent. The problem is that per click price plus the number of clicks ended up being more than what I made on those orders. Some days. If I dropped my bid price to the lower end or even the recommended price, I got very little to no clicks. When you have such a low dollar profit, those click prices need to be really low, so finding a target that works for your book and has a low range are critical.
Overall so far, I’ve spent more on the ad than I’ve earned. If I’m seeing the numbers correctly, all of my sales have been because of the ad. But, the amount earned vs. spent is only one obvious part to this. Ads do other things that impact your book. When you are selling, it improves your ranking which improves your chances of being seen organically outside of your ad. It also gets you more readers that will potentially review your book (I haven’t seen this happen yet, but not everyone gobbles a book up as quickly as I do).
It also gets you reads through Kindle Unlimited and those reads do not show in your ad metrics at all so you have no clue how many of them are because someone saw your ad. These reads do get you additional payment and are quite possibly because of your add which would skew your spent vs. earned ratio. The way KU pays out, you may not know for a month or so how much you made from those reads, especially if you are new to KU.
Because this was mostly a test run, I didn’t exactly expect to see a lot of tangible results. I’m calling this a win even if I spent more than I earned at this point. I think, since launching this ad, I’ve more than tripled the number of sales I’d gotten since I released my book and that is a win all it’s own. I’ve seen nearly 4,000 page reads through KU. Again, I see this as a huge win even if I have zero clue if this number is high or low or average. It is more than zero, so… win. I have learned how to run an Amazon ad and what and how to tweak things along the way.
There are other cons to the Amazon ads. You can only access these ads if you are enrolled in Kindle Select (from everything I’ve seen). KU reads not showing as part of the ad metrics. The ad metrics aren’t live and the data could be off by 12 hours, give or take. Needing to monitor the bid pricing because these do fluctuate often and sometimes by a wide margin which is a big part of why these numbers not being live are problematic. Paperback sales tend to show up in ad metrics before sales metrics, but ebooks show up in sales before in the ad metrics, so this can throw your numbers off.
Everyone has to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. Someone in a different genre may find they have a completely different experience. There was recently a discussion on Twitter about this and several others had mention their success with a keyword campaign. I’m thinking that may be my next test if I can manage to get a bit closer to the break even point with this ad.