Amazon Ads for Authors: Magic Bullet or Waste of Time?

You have probably seen Amazon adverts for authors before if you self-publish books. It is a platform that authors can use to advertise their works directly on Amazon’s website. Formerly known as Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), it has recently changed its name to Amazon Advertising.

Is this the time-saving marketing miracle you’ve been searching for? Let’s examine Amazon Advertising’s benefits and drawbacks so that you can make your own judgment.

The benefits of selling books with Amazon ads

amazon ads

What are some reasons you should promote your book via Amazon ads? Here are some of the main advantages of using this advertising platform over rivals like Facebook and BookBub ads.

Advertise where readers buy books

The only platform that allows authors to advertise their books where the majority of readers will actually purchase them is Amazon Advertising (as opposed to other platforms, where readers are distracted by videos of hilarious, adorable puppies).

When a user searches for something, advertising for Amazon’s Sponsored Products appear in the search results. For instance, here are the sponsored results for the search term “time travel fiction.”

This type of advertisement can also be found in the “Also Bought” section of books that are connected to it. Here is an illustration of the sponsored section from The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger’s product page.

The amazing thing about these ads is that they resemble organic search results so closely that the only thing that distinguishes them is the little “Sponsored” mark in the corner. Because of this, Sponsored Products don’t “intrude” on readers’ purchasing experiences because they are so obviously advertisements.

If you publish at least three novels in a series (as opposed to standalone books), you can also ensure the top spot on search result pages with a Sponsored Brand ad. This has an additional photo and a succinct copy and appears prior to the search results. For instance, before you even see the Jason Apsley book in the results for our “time travel fiction” search, there is a Sponsored Brand ad for H. Peter Alesso’s series.

The advertisement doesn’t appear too harsh even in this format. Because they are so flawlessly incorporated into readers’ buying experiences, Amazon advertising are so successful.

You pay per click, not per impression

Amazon Advertising has a “pay per click” business model, in contrast to other well-known advertising networks (like Facebook), which charge you for impressions. Theoretically, you could acquire millions of views on your advertising, giving your business a lot of exposure, yet spend nothing unless those views result in a click.

Additionally, this model is more understanding than buying impressions. With Amazon advertisements, you don’t have to spend a fortune to choose somewhat broader targeting or even make a few blunders. You won’t be required to pay anything if you accidentally select the incorrect targets and your advertisement receives no clicks. Of course, that is not the intended outcome, but it’s comforting to know that you have some leeway to try new things and acquire a handle on book promotion (especially when you have a limited budget).

Campaigns are quick to set up (no creatives required)

You frequently need to create new creatives when running adverts on various platforms. For instance, both Facebook and BookBub Ads mainly rely on graphics. You’ll probably need to collaborate with a graphic designer to create the content for those advertisements.

In contrast, Amazon Advertising automatically creates advertising using the cover of your book and its metadata (such as its title, subtitle, and reviews). If you choose Sponsored Product advertisements, you are not required to provide a design or copy. You only need to choose your targeting and bidding.

As a result, setting up your first auto-targeting campaign only takes a few minutes (keep tuned; we’ll explain what this implies in the second installment of this guide). It may take a little longer to set up a campaign using manual targeting because you have to create a list of keywords, goods, or categories to target.

Get (some) sales data

However, where Amazon Advertising genuinely excels beyond its rivals is in its capacity to provide some actual sales data. Since Amazon Advertising provides you with this information in the dashboard, you don’t have to hazard a guess as to how many of your advertisements’ impressions and clicks resulted in book sales.

This data is not perfect, to be honest. For instance, if a reader passes by your advertisement without clicking on it and subsequently decides to look up your book and purchase it, Amazon would not credit your marketing for that sale. (Spoiler: When we examine the negative aspects of Amazon book advertising, incomplete data will surface once more.)

Despite this, you continue to receive sales data from ad clicks, which is more than other ad networks could provide. Amazon Advertising additionally reports the total pages read generated by adverts and the associated royalties for books enrolled in KDP Select (and therefore able to earn royalties on the number of pages of your book that readers read after they rented it via Kindle Unlimited).

All of information can help you determine which advertising strategies are profitable and which ones are not. Amazon even offers a statistic called the advertising cost of sale that provides you with this data in a single glance (ACoS). You may access it through your dashboard, and this formula is used to calculate it:

ACoS = Spend / Sales

Later, we’ll discuss the specifics of how you can use this. For the time being, Amazon Advertising offers the advantages of letting you directly advertise to customers on a small budget and without the need for additional creatives, as well as some data to aid in the analysis of your own marketing tactics. On the other hand, this platform has some restrictions.

The drawbacks of Amazon ads for authors

drawback of amazon

There are positive and negative sides to everything. Think about the following Amazon Advertising restrictions before deciding whether or not to utilize it.

It’s a hyper-competitive ad platform

Because of all the aforementioned advantages, Amazon has grown to be a very well-liked platform for both independent authors and traditional publishers. Additionally, “popular” typically denotes “competitive” in the advertising industry.

As more advertisers have joined the platform in recent years, the cost per click has increased, making it harder than ever to get impressions, clicks, and therefore purchases. It can be challenging to break even on Amazon marketing unless you publish in a series or a specific nonfiction market.

This is possibly the reason why so many authors are eager to take advantage of the numerous online courses available on the subject to learn how to use Amazon Advertising efficiently. You might want to do some learning on your own, starting with our free course on Amazon ads, to make sure your knowledge and abilities are on level with those of other advertisers.

Optimizing your campaigns takes time

While creating Amazon ad campaigns is quite simple and quick, optimizing them can take a lot of work.

Using an auction mechanism, Amazon Advertising allows advertisers to compete with one another for impressions on the advertising locations they want. Your bids affect your final cost-per-click as well as whether you win the auctions. If your bid is too low, few people will be impressed. If you overbid, you’ll need to pay a high cost per click in order to recover your investment in sales.

Because of this, Amazon advertising frequently involves continuously adjusting bids to find the ideal balance for maintaining your campaigns’ profitability and ultimately scaling them. This brings up the following issue:

It’s very difficult to scale campaigns

The biggest problem authors have with Amazon Advertising is unquestionably this. Making your first ads profitable can sometimes be quite simple, but once you get there, it can be difficult to convince Amazon to spend more of your budget and increase your exposure.

This is a challenge for all authors, not just those who are new to advertising. Mark Dawson, a specialist in self-publishing, says:

“If your Sponsored Product ads are starting to work, then you’re probably, like myself, in a position where you want to spend more. So naturally, you increase your campaign’s budgets, and… little happens. Amazon is notoriously difficult to persuade to take more money from these ads (because they are charging by the click, not per impression).”

You can try to spend more of your cash by finding new items and keywords that are pertinent to your book, experimenting with various keyword match kinds (precise, phrase, wide), and gradually increasing your bids. Given Amazon’s cost-per-click business model, testing things out doesn’t cost much, but the more specialized your genre, the harder it is to find suitable keywords and products, and the more difficult it is to expand your campaigns.

Sales data is incomplete

There is a catch, despite the fact that it is excellent that Amazon shares some actual sales data in the dashboard. Data from Amazon Advertising is frequently lacking, and not simply because it might be difficult to determine how much of a transaction should be attributed to advertising.

First off, the “Sales” sum that Amazon reports is not your net royalties as an author but rather the overall value of books sold as a result of the adverts. When your Sales and Spend are equal (your ACoS is at 100%), you are not breaking even because only a portion of the Sales will really show up in your bank account.

Furthermore, the first 14 days following a reader clicking on your ad are the only time that sales and Kindle Unlimited pages viewed are reported. In other words, you won’t receive royalties for the pages a reader reads if they click on your ad, borrow your book through KU, and then begin reading it two weeks later.

This makes it challenging to determine whether your advertising are genuinely profitable purely based on the statistics from the Amazon Advertising dashboard. To obtain the entire picture, you’ll frequently need to combine the data from your Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard with that from Amazon Advertising.

Whether or not all of the new sales are reported in the Amazon Advertising dashboard, if your KDP sales increase after launching a new Amazon Advertising campaign, you may be pretty sure that they are the result of the adverts.

In conclusion, Amazon Advertising is an easy-to-use tool that enables you to swiftly build up ad campaigns even on a limited budget.

Since the platform is becoming more and more popular among authors, scaling and optimizing your methods can be difficult. If you’re ready to conquer these obstacles, move on to the next post in this tutorial, where we’ll show you how to set up and manage your campaigns.

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