When Brigham Plaza launched last September, I decided to go all-in with Amazon Advertising. It made sense at the time: ads for the book would appear on Amazon, where users were already searching for something to read. Armed with a limited knowledge of how AMS works, along with a financially irresponsible budget, I created my ads and let them run. The results were underwhelming, and I’ve spent the last six months refining and simplifying. Here’s what I’ve learned, along with a recommendation.
Jump to: My Amazon Advertising Recommendation
Just Throw Money at It
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have unlimited resources to spend on advertising, so for the first month of Brigham Plaza’s launch, I simply pretended I was spending someone else’s money. As it turns out more budget doesn’t mean more results, especially if your ads aren’t right.
Despite a budget in the thousands, I only managed to spend $110 over 2-3 months. Didn’t Amazon want my money? Were my bids too low? Was my targeting wrong?
A Simpler Strategy
As the ads continued to fail, I decided the best course of action was to get a baseline of how the ads performed and tweak to make improvements. That meant simpler ads with fewer options.
Here’s what I discarded:
- search targeting
- lockscreen ads
- custom text
In November of last year, I created a new portfolio that would contain simple ads for all six books. Unsure of how the ads would perform, I set a conservative daily budget for the first month and then had to lower it in December.
Here are the results since then:
It sounds dumb to judge an ad’s effectiveness on how much Amazon allows you to spend, but it’s hard to argue that simpler ads are what… more agreeable to Amazon? An easier sell?
Finally, we’re at a point where, if we were still financially irresponsible, we could really get the ads moving.
But What About ROI?
Great question. Here are some observations:
- Sales were flat (and sometimes non-existent) prior to November.
- Sales have been consistent since November.
- KU reads bottomed out in September of 2020.
- KU reads have increased since November.
- Monthly KU reads are now outperforming all previous years.
For me, what matters most is consistency. I want people reading the books on a regular basis. If they read one, they might read others, and they might review them too. Readers and reviews is the end goal, and so far the ads are delivering that for me on an affordable budget.
My Amazon Advertising Recommendation
Here’s how my ads are set up and how to do it yourself.
Standard YMMV disclaimer applies.
Choose an existing portfolio or create a new one. Click Create campaign.
Choose Sponsored Products.
Give your campaign a name and add an End date if you want.
My daily budget is currently set at $10 for the entire campaign. Amazon sends me daily emails about how that’s too low, but this indie author ain’t made of money.
Set Targeting to manual targeting so we can choose our own categories.
Campaign Bidding Strategy
I’m still wary of what when more likely to convert to a sale really means or how it’s calculated, but these are the settings I chose that seem to work.
- Dynamic bids – up and down
- Expand Adjust bids by placement
- Set Top of search and Product pages to 100%
For Ad Format, choose Standard ad. I love writing, but when it comes to marketing blurbs, I produce more anxiety than actual results. Let the book’s cover and title speak for itself.
Note that Amazon will find all versions of your book, so if you have print and Kindle, you’ll see the titles twice. I only chose the Kindle versions and added all six.
Choose Product targeting so we can specify our own categories.
Use Search under Categories to get a list of available categories. Drill down to books and your genre. Select any category you’d like to bid on.
The default suggested bid is $0.75, but your selected categories may be below that. Adjust your bid to something in the suggested bid range or click Apply to All to automatically set them.
This is not a set and forget section. You will need to monitor these suggested bids and adjust over time. You may bid X, which is acceptable today, and be priced out in a couple months when the suggested bid increases.
If you’re just starting out, you can leave this blank.
And that’s it. Hit Launch Campaign to submit it for approval, and then you can start tracking the results over the next couple of weeks.
Amazon Ads are complicated, but that’s no reason to avoid them completely. Start small, start simple, and grow from there. Learn on the job.
Obviously, I can’t promise any of this will work for you. But, if my thrashing around in the dark helps you a little or convinces you to at least try it, then awesome.
If you find any tweaks that work better, be sure to let me know.