Tips for Successful Amazon Marketing Services Ads

Amazon Marketing Services Logo 2017

Yesterday, I shared part one of this post, about how to use AMS ads for fun and profit. Today, let’s start by looking at how I examine some of the numbers I get on my ads. If you click on the ad from your dashboard, you’ll see a number of different columns, including impressions, clicks, cost per click, etc. If you single click any of them, they will show you their performance in that category, from bottom to top. Click it again, and you’ll see the same information from top to bottom.

Overall, there are some numbers I use as benchmarks to decide if an ad is working. I like to see close to one click-through per 1000 impressions. Too much lower than that and Amazon will stop serving your ad, no matter how high you bid, because readers are not responding to it, and relevance is a big part of the algorithm that decides how and where your book appears. Then, I really want to see one sale per every 7-8 clicks. If my average cost per click is $.20, and it takes me 12 clicks to get a sale, then I’m losing money on every $2.99 book I sell.

Of course, you might bid lower on keywords. You can choose how much to bid on individual keywords, so if an author seems like a perfect match to me, or if I really want to get into their Also Bought lists, I might bid much higher. Or, if Return on Investment is the most important thing to me, I might bid very low on all keywords, knowing that I am getting far fewer impressions, but the ones I do get will lead to a more profitable ad. You’ve got to decide which approach works best for you. Personally, I bid higher. You only get charged whatever it takes to beat out the next highest bid, so even if I bid $.35 per click, my average click still only costs me about $.19.

One question I often get is, “If I run two or more ads for the same book, am I just bidding against myself?” I can’t answer that for sure, as I don’t have enough data, but I will say this: I often have ten or more ads running for the same book, and I’ve never noticed that my cost per click has gone up, or that my ROI has gone down. What has gone up is my sales of that book.

Now, let’s think about your copy. The good news is, unlike Facebook ads, you don’t have to do the layout yourself — Amazon does it for you. Your ad will feature the cover of your book, plus some basics like price, how many reviews, and what star average those reviews are, publication date, etc. Those elements are not changeable. The only element you control is the blurb. It’s short, too, only a few hundred characters, so I really recommend taking your time with it and testing different blurbs. I will often run the identical ad with two different blurbs to see which one performs better.

Things that have worked well for me are an emphasis on the hook of the book, questions to the reader, and mentioning that this book is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Here’s one of my most successful pieces of ad copy:

Thomas Weaver died, then woke up in 1976 in his teenage body and bedroom, all memories intact. Can he fix what he screwed up the first time around?

That was obviously a “hook” ad, and it’s run at better than a 100% ROI since I launched it. Another successful option was to cut that copy down even more and add, “Free to read in Kindle Unlimited.”

Amazon will reject an ad on a book for a number of reasons. If it doesn’t like your cover — say there is implied violence like a gun, or a pool of blood, they will typically reject the ad. Also, if the book is “too sexy” by whatever standards they use, they will kick it out. And, if you use odd punctuation or capitalization, the same thing will happen. The first time I ran an ad looking to increase my page reads, I typed KINDLE UNLIMITED to attract the eye. That ad got rejected because of the capitalization.

Of course, once the ad has done the heavy lifting for you by delivering a ready, willing, and able to buyer, your Amazon book page has to seal the deal, which requires a great blurb, genre-appropriate cover, and a killer first few pages to show up in the Look Inside. Reviews are also helpful, as social proof, but not absolutely necessary. I use AMS ads right from launch day for new books. In fact, I think they are the best ad dollars you can spend right out of the gate.

I know AMS ads don’t have the greatest reputation, but they are currently my go-to strategy for promoting my books. Amazon prefers to see a slow build in sales, as opposed to the huge spikes we often see when we use promo sites like BookBub, ENT, etc. It’s a great way to get the Amazon machinery to work for you.

I’ve heard authors say, “I’ll be damned if I’ll pay Amazon to show my books to people. They should be doing that anyway.” AMS ads are obviously not right for you if you believe that. For me, though, I try to be practical about things. If AMS ads help me become more visible and chart higher and longer, I’m going to do it until it stops working.

In various author groups I’m in, I’ve seen other authors comment, “This sounds like too much time and energy for too little gain.” That’s something each individual needs to decide, of course. For me, the time and energy I have committed to learning the system has been paid back several times over. A book I released last July had been ranking around 50,000 in the paid store. This past month, it has been under 10,000 consistently, which puts it high up on its genre charts, which of course leads to more exposure.

After reading this, if you have questions, drop them into the comments section, and I’ll do my best to answer them, if I can.

Author: Shawn Inmon

Shawn Inmon hails from Mossyrock, Washington — the setting for his first two full-length books, Feels Like the First Time and Both Sides Now. His newest release is Rock ‘n Roll Heaven. By day he works in real estate with a side of public speaking. Learn more about Shawn on Facebook or his Author Central page

23 thoughts on “Tips for Successful Amazon Marketing Services Ads”

  1. Thanks for the post.
    my novel came out in Nov. 2015 and basically the only people who have bought it have been friends i told about it. other than that, it was totally invisible. could i use AMS ads to turn that around? Inconcert with a Kindle Countdown deal?

    Help!

    Thanks
    -john

  2. Great articles, Shawn! Solid information and tips, many of which I’ve used in my AMS campaigns.

    My recent concern with AMS, which has been echoed by many others (on Kboards), is a sharp downturn in sales. Impressions and clicks are doing fine. My latest campaign had a 700:1 impression-to-click ratio, with an average of $0.19 per click. But sales were tough to come by (well above 30 clicks per sale). Yikes!

    My concern is that AMS is currently oversold. It seems there are way too many active campaigns, creating intense competition and driving up click costs. Some of my keywords had more than 20 carousel pages of AMS ads, making it tough to make it on the first couple of pages (where most of the click action is).

    I’ve pulled out to regroup and think it over. I’m torn because staying in means getting visibility that most ad services won’t offer (at full retail price), but at the same time it’s costing me more and more to do so. 🙁

    1. I haven’t had this same experience. I wonder if it is because my books that are doing the best in AMS ads are not in the heaviest genres. My two best AMS performers are a time travel novel and a travel book. At the same time, I’ve had a terribly tough time getting traction on my contemporary romance.

  3. Thanks Shawn. It just so happens that today I am running several AMS ads for my romance novel. Your statistics provide me with a yardstick to measure the performance of my ads. The novel has only had one review and that was on the UK site.
    It will be interesting to see what if anything happens.
    I had four impressions today, but have yet to see my novel listed against any of the books I targeted.
    Maybe that is a mystery, but those are my other books.
    Thanks again!

    1. It definitely takes time before you start to see usable numbers. After an ad goes live I usually ignore it for 5-7 days, because it often takes at least that long to begin to find its footing.

  4. It sounds like AMS ads are the latest thing that works until too many people saturate the market, and its usefulness drops. Then we have to find something else and do it all again. The question is, where is AMS on the curve?
    Thanks for the info on this one, Shawn.

    1. I started hearing whispers about a change in effectiveness about six months ago. If I had to guess, I might speculate that they have another year or so before something new comes along. As I said in an IU post a few months ago, change is the only thing we can count on.

  5. I just started using Amazon ads to promote my latests non-fiction book. Today is day 9.
    Today I surpassed 1 million impressions; 2120 clicks; This as resulted 137 sales. It cost me $440. I return I have received $550 in royalties. I am trying to create a system that sales 16 copies a day, everyday, without costing me anything. I think if I can do this for 30 days, my book will peak on amazon’s rankings have a 30-day rolling average.

    I am curious if you have any other tips on optimizing ads once they are up. Right now I kill any keyword that gets 1000 views and no clicks. I have 30 ads for the same book running.

    I have 3 ads that are over 100% ACoS. Mostly I ignore the ACoS and just make sure that each day my revenue from book sales is more than my advertising costs.

    Let me know any tips you might have for optimizing ads to keep them working over time. Thanks for your help.

    1. We are following a lot of the same strategies: I have multiple ads (some with the same keywords, some with different) for the same book. I am constantly checking and tweaking my ad copy, looking for what connects with readers.

      Like you, I pause keywords that go over 1,000 impressions without getting a click, because I don’t want Amazon to stop delivering the ad.

      Like you, I don’t pay attention to the ACOS. I think it is essentially useless. I track how much I spend vs. how much I earned. I subtract the baseline of what that book would sell for without the ad, and that is the how I track my ROI.

      Your numbers are actually good, and I have hope for you: on my recent travel book, I only managed 10 sales per day for 30 days. On day 31, it jumped up to 15-20 sales per day with no additional ads. I think it is because of the 30 day rolling average. I think Amazon’s algorithms love consistent sales.

      1. Oh, one other thing I forgot to add: I mentioned that I consistently got 10 sales per day over a 30 day period before jumping to 15-20. This book is in Kindle Unlimited, and has done really well there, too, so it was adding the equivalent of a dozen or more sales per day for those first 30 days, now doing more like 15+ per day in KU. Ultimately, what I wanted to say is, I think you are on the right track by establishing a consistent sales track record over 30 days.

      2. This is excellent Shawn. Thank you. I feel a bit insecure about my strategy because there is so much conflicting info out there. But it is encouraging to here this might work. Thanks.
        Jarem

    2. Everything I know points toward not being able too use them outside the US so far. As soon as I get access to the UK or any other area, I’ll begin experimenting.

  6. Have you tried to get on AMS ads in other countries? My understanding is that Amazon rolled them out in across Europe over 2016. But I have not figured out how authors can tap into them. Have you heard of any authors using them to market books?

    Jarem

  7. Thanks for your helpful article. I haven’t tried Amazon ads yet– I am still at the “gathering information” stage. I would also like to know more about how to run the ads in other countries.

    1. I can’t imagine it will be too long before they open the ads to other countries, but the ways of Amazon are mysterious.

    1. I can’t say this is gospel, RJ, because of course, Amazon doesn’t say. This is just based on my own observation of the death spiral certain ads hit: too many impressions without clicks, or too many clicks without sales, and soon those impression numbers dwindle and dwindle until there are essentially none at all.

  8. Shawn, thanks for both this article and the previous day’s article. I’ve been using AMS for a few months marketing my husband’s books, and while I have the keywords list-making down pat (I think), it had not occurred to me to run multiple ads for the same book even with the same keywords to get a critical mass of impressions per day. I’m curious if you have ads for the same book with completely different sets of 500+ keywords. If so, what distinguishes the different lists? Is it just you’ve amassed so many author names and titles that you roll over the 1000 keyword limit per ad, or do you target one ad with some type of keyword (genre? author names only?) and another ad with a different type? Many thanks!

  9. Great article, thank you. Many thanks for the tips on how to find to 500+ needed keywords. I, too, have the same question on developing different keyword lists for the same book and how they are different.

    1. It’s more art than science for me, actually. By that I mean that I do not have more than 1,000 keywords on a list somewhere that I segment and use for different ads. Instead, after a particular ad with a set of keywords seems to have run its course, I start over fresh, using different methods to find keywords. If I used Yasiv primarily to build the last set, I might lean more on Goodreads to pull keywords this time. Will there be some crossover of keywords? Yes. It doesn’t seem to matter. Each ad seems to be its own tiny ecosystem. Some are healthy, and produce like crazy. Others, not so much. I keep throwing ads at the wall, trying different methods, until I hit on ones that work well. It’s a bit of hit and miss, but the hits can really propel you.

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