Amazon Book Ads

Amazon Marketing Services for Authors

AMS is an advertising platform run by Amazon. It’s meant to be used by all Amazon sellers to advertise their stuff on the website. You can use this service whether you sell kitchen items, T-shirts, or video games.

But in this book, we will focus on how you can use it to market your books.

AMS, although part of Amazon, is not compulsory. Sellers who wish to sell with it are free to join, and I know a lot of authors who have opted to not use this service. I was among them.

To use AMS, you will need to have your book published on Amazon, although the  book may also be published on other platforms.

When it was still in its infancy, however, only books published exclusively on Amazon could use AMS. But this has since changed.

The Benefits of AMS

The biggest question for most authors is how AMS can increase their book sales. Here is how:

Customers are ready to buy – everyone on Amazon intends to shop or compare prices. Chances are that they already have their money in hand and are ready to make a purchase.

You just have to provide what they are looking for.

This is one of the biggest reasons why you may want to advertise with AMS.

This is unlike other platforms where you need to convert a regular browser into a customer. Facebook and Google are good examples of such platforms.

Cheaper than other platforms – one of the reasons I never turned to Amazon Ads is because I heard how costly it is to advertise. Mainly, this was because of Adwords and Facebook Ads.  

I was afraid Amazon would be the same.

However, it has proven to be different. It is not easy for Amazon to use up all your budget.

High conversion rate - another thing about Amazon is that you have high conversion rates. This takes us back to the first point – people are ready to buy when on Amazon.

Someone who clicks your Ad on Facebook may go to Amazon just to get a better look at your book. They will probably decide to buy from you a month later. You can’t blame them because they really didn’t want to buy today.

Boosts organic sales – Amazon has a ranking system and this showcases the books that people are buying the most. The lower the rank, the more popular the book.

If you use AMS, you increase your sales and reviews. Your rank improves. Essentially, this tells Amazon that people are loving your book.

So it is likely going to appear higher in search results and it will be promoted by Amazon to its millions of customers.

All this will mean even more sales for you. You will earn them without having to spend more money.

For example, research by Kindlepreneur.com shows that the book that appears first in a search has a 27% chance of getting a sale. The one that comes second has a 12% chance of getting the sale. If yours is at the bottom, not many will bother to look at it. Most will just assume that it’s not good enough.

Only pay per click – another great thing about AMS is that you only pay for your advertisements when a customer clicks on your Ad.

Your Ad may be shown to over a 1,000 people per day. But if none of them clicks it, then you will not pay a single cent.

Imagine if this was a newspaper or Television Ad. Even if no one paid attention to it, you would still be paying the same amount.

The benefit here is that you will create brand awareness for free. When the people who saw your Ad earlier see it again, they may then click it.

However, while the free visibility may seem like a good thing, it can hurt you in the long term. Amazon exists to make money. If no one clicks on your Ads, then it will not make money, both in the advertisement and in the sale of your book. So sooner than later, your Ad will die.

Quick and simple to create – Amazon takes care of most of the Ad creation process. Only a few things are left to your control.

This makes it extremely easy to create an Ad. Even if you have never done it before, I can assure you that you will have your first Ad running in just a few minutes.

Simple to test – you can run a number of Ads on a single book at a time. You can easily discover which Ads are doing well, and because of which factors. You can start, pause, or terminate your Ads at any time.

You name the price – instead of having Amazon tell you how much you must pay for the Ad, you name your own price. You do this after taking into account the profitability of your book.

AMS works like an auctioning system. Each seller makes a bid for a certain keyword, and the seller that wins is the one who has his Ad shown.

What AMS Is Not

I would love to tell you that with AMS you can achieve all your dreams as an author. But I would be lying to you. It’s important that you set your expectations right before you even get started with it:

It’s not a magic solution – if you remember, I told you that writing a good book alone is not enough, marketing is just as important.

Here is the twist, if you only focus on the marketing part and skimp on book creation, then you will only waste your money with AMS.

Understand that AMS is there to get people find your book’s detail page. From there, it’s up to your book to do the selling.

If you only have two reviews, and both of them are discrediting your book, then you will be losing money from your Ad. The thing is, a customer will read the reviews before buying. They may be reluctant to buy thereafter.

Unfortunately, Amazon will have already charged you for that click. If you have many such clicks, the cost can add up over time.

If you have had a book for some time and it has never gotten a single sale, opting to use AMS may not be a good idea. Customers will be less willing to spend on a book that has no reviews and a poor rank.

First, sell the book using other means and get a few reviews.

If you have an email list, notify the subscribers about your book. A small percentage of people on this list will buy it, and some will also leave reviews.

If you have a website that gets a lot of traffic, use it to advertise your book. Encourage your readers to leave a review for your book on Amazon. In case you don’t have a website, then you can advertise on other people’s websites through guest blogging.

If all these review-building methods are not applicable in your case, there is another way. But it takes a lot of work and success is not always guaranteed.

Here is how to use it:

Step 1: Go to Amazon.com and look for books that are similar to yours.

Step 2: Scroll down to the comments section and read the comments that readers have left.

Step 3: Look for email addresses left by some of the readers and copy these into a spreadsheet. You want to have readers who are active in the Kindle store. These are the ones that are likely to leave a review.

Step 4: Send emails to the addresses you kept in your spreadsheet. Explain who you are and what you want. In this case, tell them you have a book you have just published on Amazon. Tell them you would like to send them a free copy in exchange for a review. (They have to specify in the review that you sent them a free copy.)

Not everyone who receives your book will leave a review. Not everyone will reply to your email. From a list of 200 email addresses, you can only get 10-20 reviews. These are enough to get the ball rolling.

Don’t expect instant success – while it takes just a few minutes to create an Ad, don’t think you will start seeing your sales skyrocket instantly.

It can take days, and sometimes even weeks, for an Ad to start producing results.

Of course, this is not always the case. Some Ads start making money after just a few days. But such cases are rare. It’s best that you don’t hype your expectations too much as that might lead to disappointment down the road.

Don’t always expect a positive Return on Investment (ROI) – There is a lot that goes into making a book successful. In part, it sometimes comes down to doing the right thing at the right time – others would call this luck.

But the thing is, even if you have a good book, and you take time to create a good Ad, you may still not see a positive ROI, or it may not be as high as you might have hoped.

Ask authors who have published several books on Amazon and have used AMS Ads on most of them, they will tell you that not all books succeed with AMS.

Sometimes, it just comes down to learning the right things and taking time to figure out what the numbers are telling you. Most newbies lack this skill.

But if you were to do research, you will learn that almost all authors had their Ads improve over time. They took the time to learn more about AMS.

Being Wide vs. Exclusive

Amazon is not the only place on the internet where you can market your books. But it is, without a doubt, one of the best.

Some authors wonder if it makes sense to just market their books on Amazon only, or on other marketplaces. They wonder which way they would make more money.

However, there is no single answer to this. Every author is different and has different goals.

The best way to know which advertising platform would best suit you is by testing. Of course, I would vouch for AMS as I have seen how beneficial it is.

You need to test what may be more appropriate in your case. Some authors, for example, will say they would rather only advertise on Facebook as that’s where they make more money.

But I think this comes down to where most of your readers hang out. It’s also the one you know how to use best.

However, I would recommend that you give AMS a chance.

While it’s still young compared to most of its contenders, it still works amazingly. More features are being added to it.

The Different Types of Ads

There are two types of Ads that you can run on Amazon. These behave differently, are set differently, and reach different audiences.

Knowing just which Ad type to choose is crucial. I have heard stories of other authors bashing AMS as a scam. But sometimes, this has to do with choosing the wrong Ad type.

The Ads are grouped into two types – Sponsored Products Ads and Product Display Ads.

Sponsored Products Ads

These use keywords to determine if your Ad is appropriate in a particular case.

For example, if you have written a book on sciatica remedies, and someone searches “sciatica” on Amazon, then your Ad may appear along with other search results.

These Ads will also appear on detail pages of related books.  

Sponsored Products Ads are a great way to create awareness for your book to people who would not have otherwise found it.

When looking at your Ad, the customer will see its cover, the title, your name, book rating, and your Ad text.

When a customer clicks your Ad, they will be taken to your book detail page. It’s here that they will make the decision to buy your book or not.

Sponsored Products Ads allow you to run your Ads in two ways. You can choose to target automatically or manually.

With automatically targeted campaigns, Amazon will pick the keywords you may rank for. This works well if your book has a very descriptive title. Something like “how to treat Sciatica” would be a good example.

Obviously, if you are writing fiction, you must avoid automatic targeting. Manual targeting might be the best option. This is where you provide your own keywords to rank for.

While automatic campaigns are quick to set up, most authors find manually targeted campaigns to be better.

The biggest drawback with Sponsored Products Ads is that they have higher CPC bids than Product Display Ads. This is usually because most authors use the former.

To create a Sponsored Products Ad, follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to your KDP account and find the book you want to promote in your bookshelf.

Step 2: Click on the Promote and Advertise button next to the book to be promoted.

Step 3: On the next screen, click on the button that says Create an Ad campaign.

Step 4: On the next screen, select Sponsored Products.

Step 5: Name your campaign in the Campaign name field. This is one area you need to consider carefully. This is your first Ad. You are going to run a lot of other Ads and for many books.

So you need a naming system that instantly tells you what an Ad is about.

Most authors will have the name of the book (preferably abbreviated), the type of Ad this is, the keywords they are targeting, and the date the Ad was created.

If you want, you may use any other naming convention. Just ensure that you keep it the same for all your other Ads.

Step 6: You then need to select your budget. The minimum that Amazon allows is $1 per day. As a new advertiser, I would recommend you don’t go over $10 per day. Like I said, Amazon is very cheap. Even if you specify to spend $10, you may be spending just $1 – $2.

Step 7: You must select the duration of your campaign. You can choose whatever you want here. But for simplicity, just let it run continuously.

Step 8: You then need to select whether you want targeting to be manual or automatic.

There are no hard and fast rules for this. I recommend that you test. So creating Ads of both types won’t be such a bad idea.

Selecting manual targeting will show up a list of keywords that Amazon suggests. You are free to click Add next to any keyword you believe is relevant. Also, you can enter a default bid in the box that says Set a default cost-per-click (CPC) bid for suggested keywords. You can change this for individual keywords if you want.

Click on the tab that reads Add your own keywords, and this is where you may then enter your own keywords.

Also, remember to set your default CPC bid for these keywords.

It is recommended that you have at least 100 keywords in your Ads. The more keywords, the better.

Step 9: The next part is where things get interesting – writing your Ad text. Apart from the title, cover, and rating, this is the only other thing the customer will see. It’s important that it makes them want to click your Ad.

You are limited to only 150 characters. You must make the best use of it. We will talk more about this later.

Step 10: You then need to add your payment information. If if you haven’t already. The process is straightforward.

Step 11: If you would like to get back to your Ad later, then click on the Save as draft button. But if you know you are done, click the Launch Campaign button.

Your Ad will then go to Amazon for review, and you will have to wait for 1–3 days for it to be approved or rejected. In case of the latter, you will need to make edits to it. If it’s the former, your Ad will go live.

Product Display Ads

Unlike Sponsored Products Ads, Product Display Ads are targeted by a product or an interest.

When you target by product, your Ad will appear on detail pages of the products you choose. You just have to ensure that you choose the right ones. The Ads may appear on Amazon.com or Kindle e-readers.

If you target by interest, your book will be shown to those who are interested in your topic. This may be fitness, cooking, romance, etc.

Usually, interest-based Ads aren’t as good as their product-targeted counterparts.

The biggest advantage with Product Display Ads is that they allow for extreme targeting. You can even target a direct competitor if you want.

For example, if I was selling a book on how to play piano, I would target the most popular pianos on Amazon. Chances are that people buying these may also be interested in buying my book. Or I may even target another book that competes with mine.

The other benefit with these Ads is that they have a low CPC bid. You can get your Ad shown for as little as $0.02.

The only problem with these Ads is that they have a low Click-Through Rate (CTR). This means that most of people who see your Ad will not click it.

This low CTR is also because your Ads won’t appear often – remember, they will only appear on certain pages.

You must consider this type of Ad if your book serves a very targeted niche.

The process of creating a Product Display Ad is the same as that of creating a Sponsored Products Ad. However, there are a few differences:

Step 1: Log into your KDP account as before.

Step 2: Find the book you want to advertise and then click the Promote and Advertise button.

Step 3: Click on Create an Ad campaign button.

Step 4: On the Next screen, select Product Display.

Step 5: You will then be asked about targeting. Let’s select By product.

In the search box, you can input the names of products you want your Ad to appear on.

You can enter a name of any product, its UPC or ASIN. I have to warn you though – this feature does not always work as intended. It returns results that have nothing to do with what you are searching for. This is where using ASIN may be a good idea.

If the product that you want comes up, click the Add button next to it. To increase the number of times your Ad gets shown, target lots of products.

You can let Amazon select the products to associate with your Ad, and this may be a good option if you have not done enough research. For now, however, don’t use this feature.

If you choose to target by interest, then you will be presented with a number of categories. Select those you think correspond with your book.

Step 6: You should then enter a title for your campaign. Again, the same rules apply. Use a naming convention that’s easy to identify and make it standard.

Step 7: The next field is where you enter your CPC bid and the budget for your campaign. For Product Display Ads, the minimum is $100.

Step 8: You will then need to choose a duration for your campaign. In addition, you must tell Amazon how to spend your money. Since you are still learning, there is no need to rush. Allow Amazon to Spread your campaign evenly over its duration. Do note that, even if you choose to spend your budget as fast as possible, Amazon is unlikely to spend your advertising dollars as fast as you wish it to.

Step 9: You will notice that there is a field for a headline – make sure you input something catchy to get the reader’s attention. The limit is 50 characters. As for the Ad text, the limit is 150 characters again.

If you want, you can optimize the dimensions for the Ad.

Step 10: You are finished with your Ad. If you would like to edit it later, then save it. Otherwise, send it to Amazon by clicking Submit Your Campaign for Review. As usual, you may have to wait for up to 3 days before you hear from Amazon.

Which Ad Type to Use

This is more like asking someone which color is better between green and blue. You will get different answers depending on the person’s experience with that color.

Some authors will tell you to do Sponsored Products Ads because they work.

Some will tell you Product Display Ads are the best.

No one is wrong and no one is right.

I know authors who have only found success with Sponsored Products Ads. I also know others who have only benefited from Product Display Ads.

Almost every author sticks with the type of Ad they think works, and totally neglects the other.

Instead of just picking this and sticking with it, I recommend you try both Ad types. It may happen that the nature of your product does well with a certain type of Ad only. The only way to find this out is by testing.

The best part is that Amazon makes it really cheap to do this kind of testing.

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