Amazon is constantly growing, adding more sellers and attracting more customers to its database every day. This allows the site to acquire data on all types of buyers, meaning “Amazon is able to create complete pictures of customer data potentially better than any other platform,” according to Digiday. This is why it’s imperative that authors look into Amazon advertising as a way to maximize book sales.
Why run an Amazon ad?
There are numerous benefits to running an ad on Amazon. One of the biggest benefits is increasing the visibility of your self-published book. People who go onto Amazon are actively searching for something to spend their money on, and they’re more likely to buy a product that pops up toward the top of their page or is suggested with other products they’ve already purchased. Amazon ads are also a great way to be discovered by new customers. Since Amazon places ads in such obvious places on the site and within the search results page, people are more likely to come across your self-published book through ads rather than organically.
How to run an ad on Amazon
The easiest way to run an ad on Amazon is through Amazon Pay-per-click advertisements or Amazon PPC for short. With Amazon PPC, sellers only pay when a customer clicks on their ad, not for impressions. This makes it easy to get a high return on investment because you know customers are already actively looking to buy if they’re searching on Amazon. There are three main types of Amazon PPC ads: Sponsored product ads, Headline search ads, and Product display ads.
Sponsored Product ads
This is the easiest way to get started with Amazon ads. A sponsored product ad allows sellers to advertise their products within the organic search results when the customer searches for specific keywords and/or products. These campaigns are easy to create and easy to control advertising costs. For most authors, Sponsored Product Ads are the best place to start.
Headline Search Ads
A headline search ad is very similar to a sponsored product ad in the sense that you select a keyword that would produce your ad on the buyer’s page of search results. However, with this type of ad, your book will be shown at the very top of the page before any of Amazon’s organic results. These ads appear as a banner at the top of the page, which increases the chances of your book being seen. This type of ad is the most customizable and can show buyers several of your books to choose from before they even look at any other results further down the page.
Product Display Ads
Product display ads are also very successful ways to advertise your book. When a customer clicks on a similar book to your own, Amazon will advertise your book in the “similar products” section. This increases the buyer’s options and could even “steal” business from your competitors by exposing customers to your book before they have the chance to buy another. With this type of ad, you’re not limited to choosing a keyword that would produce your product for a buyer, but you can target related products and categories.
How to run Amazon Ads
To run any of Amazon’s PPC ads, you must create an ad campaign within an Amazon professional seller account. For authors who published through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can access it through the Marketing tab in your KDP account at kdp.amazon.com.
Start with naming your campaign. Be specific to differentiate one campaign from another. You can use a date, but other factors, like keyword lists or bid strategy, are more descriptive.
When setting up your ad campaign, you’ll choose standard or custom text. Using custom text allows you to create a 150-character text for your ad. Take advantage of this space to hook your potential readers with a compelling description.
You must also choose how long you want your ads to run and how much you’re willing to spend on advertising daily. You can start with as little as $2-$5 per day as you experiment with running ad campaigns. Until you are certain how well your ads are performing, set it to end on a certain date. Start with a two-week campaign and check it periodically for adjustments. However, Amazon algorithms go through a learning phase to determine the best placement for your ad. Anything less than two weeks may not produce the results you want.
You can also select either Automatic Targeting or Manual Targeting for your campaign. If you select Automatic, Amazon will match your ads to relevant search terms and products. If you select Manual, you can choose which keywords and products your campaign is associated with.
Finally, you must select a “bid” for your ad. Your bid is the maximum amount you would pay for a customer to click on your ad. Amazon provides suggested bids if you’re unsure what an appropriate bid would be for your specific campaign.
How to make the most out of your Amazon ad campaign
Selecting the Right Keywords
Selecting the right keywords can make or break your campaign. The best way for beginners to determine which keywords to accompany their book advertisement is by using a keyword search tool like Publisher Rocket. Publisher Rocket is a revolutionary app designed to make the job of finding keywords for your book and your Amazon ads easier.
We discussed the power of Publish Rocket in the Categories and Keywords lesson. Similar principles apply. While you can manually search for the best keywords, Publisher Rocket cuts hours from your work AND provides insights with a competition score and the number of searches per month. This information guides you toward selecting keywords with a high search and low competition score, so your ad has a better chance of being at the top of the search.
In addition to genre-specific or character-specific keywords, use competitor’s books and trending books in your category to gain more visibility on a highly viewed page. Look for Also Boughts on your Amazon sales page for clues for books like yours. Choose books with a high number of reviews. The more recent, the better.
You can also follow BookBub featured deals or one of the other popular book review sites for books most likely to get extra traffic. Include the book titles in your keywords on specific days. Obviously, using BookBub or other review sites’ books is effective if you regularly check in with your ad dashboard and are comfortable updating your ad daily.
Negative keyword targeting guides Amazon away from showing your ad to those least likely to buy. If you wrote a book about how to plan a child’s birthday party, you don’t want it to show to someone searching for holiday parties. Similarly, if you wrote a contemporary romance, you don’t necessarily want to show it to those searching for historical romance.
If you are just starting with ads, you may be most comfortable with allowing Amazon to find your target audience by selecting automatic targeting. While it isn’t as effective as manual targeting, it’s an easy way to get comfortable with the ad platform.
Choosing an effective bid strategy
Choosing an effective bid is a delicate balancing act. Set it too low, and you don’t get any impressions (ads that Amazon shows shoppers). Set it too high, and you run the risk of losing money on your campaign. So where is the happy middle?
Like choosing keywords, expect to experiment. The prevailing wisdom suggests starting a little higher to get more impressions and lowering the bid if the campaign is successful to find the minimum viable bid to maximize the results. Of course, you don’t want irrelevant results that compel readers to click without purchase.
Amazon suggests bids based on winning bids for various keywords. You can use that as a guide. However, it won’t necessarily maximize your results. Start with a bid between $.50-1.00 and monitor your results. ACoS (advertising cost of sale) is your best guide for the short- and long-term strategy for running ads. ACoS results show if your ads are profitable.
ACoS = Ad Spend/Sales from Ads
For ebooks with a 70% royalty, you want your ACoS at .70 or lower. For paperback books, your ACoS needs to be closer to .25 to make money on each sale. However, if your strategy is to generate more book reviews, you may be willing to lose a little money on advertising, especially if you have other books in a series to absorb the losses.
What if your ACoS is too high?
If your ACoS is too high, do some detective work. Are your keywords returning lots of clicks with no sales? Perhaps, your keywords aren’t relevant, or your description isn’t compelling. You can also try lowering your bid amount to bring your ACoS within range.
When is the best time to run an ad campaign?
Any time is a great time to run an Amazon campaign. Whether it’s to promote your best-selling book to keep it at the top of the charts or to promote a lagging backlist, an Amazon ad campaign can benefit authors at any stage of their self-publishing journey. However, running ads during launch week can send additional traffic to your sales page and propel you to the top of the ranking. It’s easier to get to the top of the rankings and stay there instead of pulling yourself up from a lower ranking.
The bottom line
Amazon ads provide an opportunity to put your book front and center where buyers are most likely to purchase it. Advertising takes perseverance to design a strategy of keywords and bids. With patience and fine-tuning, you guide Amazon to find your ideal readers and deliver your ad at the moment of greatest need.
If you only have one book, use caution not to overspend. It’s also important to understand that not all books are created equal. Romance and mystery sales far outpace other genres. Nonfiction titles don’t sell as well as their fiction counterparts and may not respond as well to advertising. However, while your ad runs, use the time to write your next book to increase your effectiveness over time.
Every author is different and has different goals, so every ad campaign is going to be slightly different based on these goals. As always, go back to your vision for success to guide your decisions.