How Your KDP Ad on Amazon Might Be Better than You Think



I love that Amazon now lets indie authors advertise with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) through KDP Select.

Think about this: Traditionally published authors can’t find a self-service, low-cost advertising option on Amazon.

But if you’re enrolled in KDP Select, you can.

How cool is that?

Anyway… If you try one of these ads, you might just get 1 click for every 1000 impressions or so, and you might get a few sales for every 100 clicks.

If you also bid high to get more impressions, you might see a small short-term return on investment (ROI).

However, things may be better than they seem—i.e. better than the sales column in your AMS ad report might suggest.

Here are 14 ways that your Amazon ad might be more effective than it seems:

  1. Non-clicked sales. Clicking on your ad isn’t the only way to reach your product page. If a customer sees your name or the title of your book, the customer might search for it later. Or the customer might see the ad on his/her pc or laptop, but get out a Kindle to search for your book (instead of clicking on your ad). Thus, you might get a couple of sales that don’t show up on your ad report.
  2. Kindle Unlimited. Customers who click on your ad might download your book through Kindle Unlimited. These won’t show on the sales column of your ad report.
  3. Audio sales. Customers who click on your ad might see your audio book linked to your Kindle product page. A few customers may prefer the audio format.
  4. Print sales. Customers who click on your ad might see your print book linked to your Kindle product page. Some customers prefer print. (I tend to sell more print books than Kindle books, so this is significant for me.)
  5. Add to cart. The customer was busy buying something else when he/she saw your ad. So after clicking on your ad, if the customer likes your book, the customer might simply add your book to his/her shopping cart and revisit your book several weeks later. If the purchase isn’t made within 14 days, the sale won’t show on your ad report.
  6. Delays. Sales reporting on the ad report can be delayed. First, there can be a payment processing delay of a few days. The ad report itself says that sales reporting may be delayed by 2-3 days. The customer might not buy the book immediately after clicking the ad, too. The ad report will allow a customer 14 days from the click date to make the purchase, and still report the sale on the ad report.
  7. Series. If your ad succeeds in selling the first book of a series, some customers will also purchase the second book, third book, etc. Each sale can potentially be several sales.
  8. Similar books. A customer who clicks on your ad might check out your other books, too. In fact, the customer might buy one of your other books instead of the one you advertised. Or the customer might purchase multiple books.
  9. Multiple books. Authors of multiple similar books have a distinct advantage. One ad might result in multiple sales. But you only see sales of the advertised product in your ad report.
  10. Future sales. A customer who reads your book today might buy more books from you in the future. Including books you haven’t even published yet. When you release your next book, each fan you add today may impact your new release.
  11. Sales rank boost. If your ad succeeds in generating any sales or Kindle Unlimited downloads, this sales rank boost has the potential to generate additional sales.
  12. Branding. Anyone who sees your ad or reads the title has learned that your book exists. The next time they see your book, this improves the chances that they will buy it. Branding has good long-term potential. Even though the thumbnails are small and the ads only show a few words, people are clicking on the ads occasionally, so there is some branding effect in play.
  13. Recommendations. Any customers who buy your book as a result of the ad and who enjoy your book may recommend it to others. This can be a very long-term effect, but if you can get recommendations, they can have a big impact on sales many months down the road.
  14. Feedback. If nothing else, the ad report gives you some data that may be useful. For example, if your sales-to-click ratio is around 1% or less, it’s a good sign that you can improve (A) the marketability of your product page, (B) the targeting of your ad, or (C) your thumbnail or title so that they better attract your target audience through the ad.

Here are a few advertising tips that I’ve learned from my preliminary data from my KDP ad campaigns:

  • Product targeting appears to be much more effective than interest targeting.
  • Try to get into the mind of your target audience. Think of the people most likely to purchase, read, and appreciate your book. Which other books and products are they very likely to be shopping for now?
  • About 50 to 150 highly relevant products can work well, if you select them wisely.
  • It’s not just the popularity of the other product, but also how receptive those readers may be to your book.
  • It may be okay to add a highly relevant movie (on DVD or Prime, for example). This might help you break free of competition for ad placement.
  • It’s presently hard to make impressions with lower bids, say around 10 cents or less. Wise product targeting can help to make impressions.
  • Bid competitiveness is showing a few signs of possibly coming down in some categories. Patience may get your better return on your investment.
  • Here’s a new KDP Select tool that appears to reward higher-priced books. With a $100 budget and pay-per-click, earning a 34-cent royalty on a 99-cent book will have a really tiny short-term ROI. That doesn’t mean this can’t be useful to advertise a lower-priced book, just that doing so carries greater risk and requires much better long-term results to be worth it.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
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