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Amazon Advice

So, I'm always kicking around looking at Amazon advertising advice and recently came upon two tidbits from a "guru" who once worked at Amazon on the book side of their sales, so I give her more natural cred than most gurus. Two or three things stood out, but I wanted to give a little testing before declaring her right.

1: Amazon's algorithm is Lazy... This statement kind of surprised me, but at the same time, maybe it shouldn't. Why this matters in a minute.

The #1 complaint I've seen about Amazon ads is getting no impressions... Run your ads with Fixed Bids. My test run so far is showing this as dead-on correct. I just started the ad today and it started slow, but is now a steady flow of impressions. This leads to #2—

2: Do Not Use Dynamic Bids! Now ho howdy, this one caught my eye because I think the damned thing defaults to this, and I always figured that like Facebook, Amazon might be good at raising and lowering bids. No. Dynamic bids are best suited to non-books, according to this person. SO! I repeat, use fixed bids.
  • 2a: This relates to the algorithm being lazy in that if you set up dynamic bids, Amazon does a whole lot of calculating and guessing, and it might just shut you out of keywords you really want and that might actually be effective while making you think that keyword sucks. My guess is that books are more complicated to figure out who will buy what than when compared to flashlights or other gadgets.
3: Quit doing what every Guru out there tells you to do: Filling up the keyword list with a thousand items. This is age-old, seen it everywhere advise that I never quite followed until a few months back, and I didn't love the results of a thousand keywords. So, there I was about to start a fine-tuned targeting ad when I run across this woman's advice, which is even more restrictive than I was going to do. Small Group targeting. Pick your comps and go after them. Why?
  • 3a: The Amazon algorithm is lazy. When it goes through a thousand keywords, in particular with the guessing game of Dynamic Bids, you will pinball your ad around to whatever the hell it likes.
  • 3b: That pinball action creates a helluva lot of Data Noise. You won't get a lot of impressions on any single keyword, and until you get a lot of impressions, how can you judge its effectiveness?
My test run is so far, so good. Healthy impressions and thus far, reasonable CPC. So, if you aren't getting impressions—which is the first step to sales—instead of doing what everybody says to do... Fill up your keywords! You instead shift to Fixed bidding and micromanage your targets. This will get the impressions and that is the first step to learning what works and what does not.

We could ad #4: $10 as a minimum daily budget. Apparently, under $10 Amazon's algorithm is off a bit AND you want enough accurate data to analyze.

Ned Marcus

I've just started with Amazon ads (two months now) and have had poor results.

First, I tried automatic KW because I had no idea which KW to use. The result, after a month, was about 500 impressions but only 2 clicks. At least I only spent $0.33.

Second, I targeted genre. After 2 weeks, I've had about 700+ impressions but no clicks. But also no spend.

Most recently, I've guessed 100 KW (because my also boughts are by indie writers that almost no one buys) and am waiting to see what happens. Actually, 27 impressions in the first few hours, but no clicks.

My spend, which I've never come close to spending, is $10/d. I use fixed bids.

How many KWs do you use? Just curious.
Right now I'm at around 60, hit 4500 impressions yesterday with no bids over $1, paid .56 per click. The other prime variable is, of course, your bid and whether your keywords are pulling enough traffic. The guru would argue to get impressions by hook or crook so you can learn what works.

I'll update this to see if the impressions keep solid or if they decline. I should also note that 4500 was half a day. Ish.
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MINOR Update: Broke yesterday's impression count, up over 5k. Clicks and sales... sad, but a small # of clicks means I'm not paying much for the impressions, LMAO. I've had a solid sales day, but they aren't showing up on the Amazon ads, but I've seen them take days to show up.

At least so far impressions have been achieved with a small number of keywords, and I will be finetuning the bids to try and boost that, since most have been targeted at just a few words,
Thanks for the pointers. I'm planning to start digging into Amazon ads again towards the end of the year (after releasing my next novel), so these are good to know.

I have seen some of these before, especially the "Don't use 1000 keywords in an ad" one. But it's good to get some confirmation from someone who might actually know. I found Robert Ryan's book Amazon ads unleashed pretty good on the subject.
I think the trouble is hearing pretty much everything one way or another. I have personally never gotten the ads to run as far as sales for more than a week, LOL. Janet Margot is the lady I'm testing out now. Here book was interesting but didn't do that much for me, but listening to a little presentation was better even if a little bit of a teaser.
I think I found the presentation you saw online somewhere. It's an interesting presentation. Lot of things she mentions make sense. I'll definitely implement a few things if I start up AMS ads again.
yesterday after posting that impressions went above 6800 and got double the clicks in those hours than the previous 36 hours. Still not near my best running ad (which I have turned off while experimenting) but an impreovement.
Random laugh: Eve of Snows had a recommended bid of $2.62 on the exact match. My guess is Winter's Fury by AE Rayne is getting a lot of those.
It looks like the ad is settling into about 6.5k impressions/day, but not enough clicks to eat the entire budget. Clicks have picked up some and a few sales, but I've seen sales trail by days.

One author's book comps are working well but not enough impressions to make any certain determination. Author names are crap, at least so far. Could be a fluke.

Speaking of Noise! Ever since I started this ad my sales have spiked every day, but I can't attribute it to any 1 thing because I made several small changes in several places! Aaaarg. Even when I win, I don't know why. Opacity is the devil.
Fortunately Amazon is always very transparant about what's going on when you're getting sales and are advertising... /sarcasm

At least is sounds like a start. And some sales is always better then my average of 0... :)

It's always hard to know when exactly something is working. Experiment some more I guess and see how it goes. I do prefer her approach of trying small, incremental steps and measuring results to the usual throw it all at the wall and hope something sticks.
Yes, managing and analyzing 60ish keywords is easier and will likely teach the brain to work with more. Her approach has seemingly been refined over the past couple of years, after I saw some stuff from her in 2020. And it was interesting to watch her analyze a "struggling" ad account that had been running a few months and had spent over 2k in that time. I think it REALLY hit on what must people are going to suffer from on Amazon's system: even when you get high impressions, the CTR is very low. In fact, the more impressions you get, the lower the CTR. So, while I've gotten the most clicks from Game of Thrones the CTR is atrocious... but that isn't shocking because a huge number of people searching it aren't looking for books. Then, you have some comp titles that are running at 3-5%, but it's 1 click in 33 impressions or whatever.

When working at Amazon, I'm sure she dealt with bigger names, not smucks starting out. So, when she's looking at a campaign targeted to an author the advertiser considers a great comp, she finds herself questioning the "relevance" of the author and titles. BUT they are in the same genre and a good comp. Now, I had one major question that I couldn't answer: Is the comp author on KU? I should look that up. KU authors should probably target KU authors if struggling with a big name. On the flip, a wide author should probably target non-KU authors. The latter actually makes keywords just a touch trickier, it was easy peasy to scrape the bestseller lists full of KU!

Anyhow, she was going to fiddle with things to see if she could find improvements... one by taking a few of the better CTR but low impression keywords to their own ad campaign to see if they scale up. Otherwise, killing the campaign was an option.

Now me, so long as it's getting impressions and a click here and there, I'm okay with a low CTR. Every impression is the chance for someone to see your ad and imprint on their brains, LOL. That is the strength of FB.

SIDENOTE: My Fb ad that has been running great the past 3 days has 0 clicks this morning and is running at twice the CPM as normal... If Zuckerburg thinks he's going to make his billions back by jacking my ad costs he's way off, heh heh heh.


Myth Weaver
SIDENOTE: My Fb ad that has been running great the past 3 days has 0 clicks this morning and is running at twice the CPM as normal... If Zuckerburg thinks he's going to make his billions back by jacking my ad costs he's way off, heh heh heh.

The last FB add I saw of yours popped up on my feed a couple weeks back, and it was an old one (year plus) for Eve of Snows. I get a *lot* of book adds on FB and usually click.
Facebook ads freaked out today, lots of folks turning off their ads because it was a waste of money, LOL.

Amazon ads: Over 8k impressions today and clicks are improving.

The last FB add I saw of yours popped up on my feed a couple weeks back, and it was an old one (year plus) for Eve of Snows. I get a *lot* of book adds on FB and usually click.
So, it looks like it's stabilized at 8k, 9k, 8k... and finally got a sale off Joe Abercrombie! heh heh. Clicks appear to be climbing, so it'll be intersting to let this ride for a month and see what happens.
Nice! Keep us updated.

Indeed, from what I saw Facebook has been going nuts with cost per click and overspending on campaigns the past couple of days.
Yeah, I'm not sure if things are 100% straightened out yet on FB. Better, but still funky. But nothing compared to $4/click Friday. All and all, just a bizarre weekend for ads and sales.

Nice! Keep us updated.

Indeed, from what I saw Facebook has been going nuts with cost per click and overspending on campaigns the past couple of days.
Amazon Tidbit of the Day: An ad targeting eBooks can also show on paperback, and ad targeting Paperback will not show on eBook. This wisdom is courtesy of Janet Margot.

One week in and cracked the record for impressions at 9500 on a Monday, so impressions have been maintained or climbed for a week.

This is not shocking, I reckon, as I'm getting enough clicks to make Amazon some money. Spend is ~$5 per day on a $10 budget, so about 0.50 per thousand impressions. For test purposes, I've been holding off on adding additional authors and will try to resist the temptation to add more for a bit yet, as I also want to run ads to force more impressions on high CTR terms that are underserved while not going broke doing it, LOL.

One Conclusion with fair certainty: If selling Wide, screw the bestseller lists full of KU authors. Target people searching big-name Trad authors and books who are willing to pay money. Most KU readers are looking for their next free read. Makes sense.

The next metric is sales, and that is (so far) a mixed bag and not really enough data to say a whole lot. The worst CTR is with author names, and yet, that's where the most sales are coming from, LOL. But, author names also serve the most impressions. This is a little surprising as Well of Ascension was a keyword that performed well in another ad currently not running.

Is the ad at profit? Upfront, a big NO. However, with anticipated read-through rates... Probably. A 33% read-through would put it just about break-even, a little in the red. Much over that and cash flow on the ad shifts.

COINCIDENCE? Paperback sales have bumped up since starting this ad, so it's something to watch. if that maintains, then the ads might be moving print as well. This might make sense, as the readers I'm targeting are searching for Trad Authors and are willing to pay, so, therefore, it tends to make sense to find more print readers. Audio has been steady, and I think I can say with relative certainty that the FB ad targeting Audio, despite being pricey CPC, works. I've been turning that on and off for the past couple of weeks to see if I can gauge its value.
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Ned Marcus

I'm running two campaigns but hardly getting any impressions. A few hundred a day, and very few clicks. It could be the bid I'm putting in. I started at $0.15 and have worked my way up to $0.45. Are you using the recommended bids? They seem quite high, but perhaps that's what I need to do.
Here's is what I know about recommended bids: They are Bullshit. For instance: $2.62 or something like that for an exact match Eve of Snows? Nah. I actually had my theory about them confirmed by Janet Margot who worked on the stuff. Here are a couple of key points:

1: The $0.75 suggested default bid is hardcoded and has no basis in reality that she knows of.
2: Bid suggestions are also insane, however, they are also a self-fulfilling prophecy because lots of people use them.
3: A lot of this is because the entire system is not designed for BOOKS but everything else in the world. An example given was Flea, the guitarist from Red Hot Chili Peppers' book... Flea as a search term had a suggested bid way high, because "flea" would be picked up by pet stores where a customer is worth a lot lifetime

Here is my #4: There are KU authors out there able to afford massive bids because they have 20, 30, 40+ books out, and one new reader is worth a greater potential.

The latter creates an advertising price spiral. One way to tell? Check the suggested bids of high-ranking KU authors vs Trad published authors. There is another factor, and that is that the top 100 lists, filled with KU authors, are the easiest to data scrape for ads.

So, this would bring me to questions about your ad set. I've had sets run pretty good at $0.45. Most of my bids now run from .25 to .75. So, what types of keywords are running and where'd you get them, and are you KU?