Advertising on Amazon w/ AMS via KDP—Is it Worth it?

Images from Shutterstock

Images from Shutterstock


The new option for KDP Select authors to advertise their Kindle e-books with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is intriguing.

I have now run 14 different ads through AMS. I’ve also studied the results that several other authors have posted.

Today, I’m sharing some of my preliminary results and offering my thoughts on this critical question:


I’ll also mention a couple of alternative uses of this tool.


  1. Initial Return on Investment
  2. Estimating Short-term ROI
  3. Your Safe CPC Bid
  4. Advertising Results
  5. Possible Side Benefits
  6. Long-term ROI
  7. Countdown Deals and Freebies
  8. Creative Uses of Book Advertisements


The short-term return on investment (ROI) depends on these factors:

  • your average cost-per-click (CPC) bid
  • the royalty you earn for each sale
  • your sales-per-click (SPC) conversion rate
  • possible side benefits, like selling similar books, like selling print copies, or like getting more Kindle Unlimited downloads

You already know your royalty when you place your ad.

You can cap your average CPC by setting a modest bid.

But you won’t know your SPC conversion rate until you’ve invested money in an ad.

From running 14 different ads, I see firsthand that it’s reasonable to attain an SPC conversion rate of 4 to 10%.

A few other authors, including one who shared a screenshot, have shown that it’s possible to achieve an SPC of 10 to 20%. My feeling is that 20% will be quite rare.

On the other side, I’ve seen data for SPC’s of 1% or less.

Your SPC conversion rate depends on:

  • how well your product page (cover, blurb, Look Inside, reviews) sells your book
  • how well you target your advertisement to your specific audience
  • how well what your ad conveys (visually in the tiny thumbnail, along with the first words of the title) matches what shoppers discover on your product page
  • whether or not there is an audience for your book

The third point can have a huge impact. If customers glance at your tiny thumbnail and expect one thing, but find something different on your product page, this will kill your SPC.

The second point you can control through a wise choice of product targeting (not necessarily books). What matters most for your SPC is how well the target audiences of the selected products fit your book. But you must weigh this with how frequently you wish to make impressions: If the targeting is too precise, your ad might struggle to get impressions.


There is a formula to calculate your short-term ROI:

(s.t ROI %) = (royalty) x (SPC %) / (ave. CPC)

EXAMPLE 1: Your book earns a royalty of $4.20. Your average CPC bid is 25 cents. Your SPC is 5%.

Your short-term ROI = $4.20 x 5% / $0.25 = 84%.

This example has a high royalty, a modest bid, and a decent SPC.

EXAMPLE 2: Your book earns a royalty of $2.10. Your average CPC bid is 25 cents. Your SPC is 5%.

Your short-term ROI = $2.10 x 5% / $0.25 = 42%.

If you earn a lower royalty, you either need to have a high SPC or bid lower to make up for it.

EXAMPLE 3: Your book earns a royalty of 34 cents. Your average CPC bid is 10 cents. Your SPC is 10%.

Your short-term ROI = $0.34 x 10% / $0.10 = 34%.

Here we have an excellent SPC and a lower bid, but that 34-cent royalty is the killer.

The lower your royalty or the lower your SPC, the lower you should bid.


Let’s spin this formula around and look at it from another angle:

(safe CPC bid) = (royalty) x (SPC %) / 100%

This tells you the maximum CPC bid you should place if you want your short-term ROI to break even. You need to have some prior experience to properly estimate your SPC %.

EXAMPLE 4: Your book earns a royalty of $2.10. Your SPC is 5%.

Your safe CPC bid = $2.10 x 5% / 100% = $0.105

In this example, a bid of 10 cents is safe (provided that your SPC turns out to be what you expect).

Not getting enough impressions? So what. With a safe CPC, you’re not losing anything (again, assuming your SPC is reliable; that’s a big IF, but you can monitor your ad and pause or terminate it at any time). This basically works out to free publicity, with possible long-term benefits.


I’m not going to bore you with complete data from all 14 of my ads. I’ll share what I believe may be helpful.

My original ads had click-through-rates (ctr) of about 0.1% to 0.2%. After becoming more experienced with product targeting, my most recent ads have ctr’s of 0.4% to 0.9%. My last two ads are 0.85% and 0.90%.

The ctr doesn’t matter directly, since you pay for clicks, not impressions. Your impressions are free. However, better targeting will make your ad more cost-effective, so your ability to improve your ctr is one step toward getting the most out of your ad. It’s not uncommon for online advertising to yield a ctr of 0.1%. Most of my ads have done much better than 0.1%. That’s a plus for AMS, though of course it will vary by genre and by book. Not all books will achieve a ctr higher than 0.1%. But the potential is clearly there.

Several of my ads have a sales-to-clicks (SPC) ratio of 4%. My highest is 11%. I’ve heard from a few other authors who’ve done better (upwards of 20%); one shared a screenshot. I’ve also heard from authors who’ve done worse (1% or lower). SPC conversion rate is highly sensitive to targeting and packaging. Some books won’t get 1%. But 4% to 10% (or more) is attainable.

One reason my SPC may be under 10% is that my books tend to sell more often in print than in Kindle, and my print sales actually improved during the ad. Thus my short-term ROI may be better than it seems.

My recent average CPC bids have ranged from 25 to 35 cents. A week or more ago, these were around 50 cents. I’ve heard from other authors who also see their average CPC’s coming down. The value does depend strongly on genre or subject, as well as targeting. But in general, it seems to be coming down. This is expected, as there was a bidding frenzy in the early weeks, and it’s probably fizzled out to some extent. The bids may continue to come down, a nice reward for those who have exercised patience.

Remember, Amazon’s recommended CPC bid is 5 cents. I predict a day will come when that 5-cent bid can generate a decent impression rate, or at least a 10-cent bid.

Here are the numbers for a couple of my most recent ads (for educational books; one is in a pen name, yet the CPC and SPC are very similar):

  • 21,365 impressions / 181 clicks / $0.28 average CPC bid / 7 sales / 0.85% ctr / 3.87% SPC
  • 47,499 impressions / 174 clicks / $0.35 average CPC bid / 7 sales / 0.37% ctr / 4.02% SPC

One of these books sells for $5.99, so the short-term ROI is around 60%. The other sells for $2.99, so the short-term ROI is around 30%.

But maybe I just bid too high. If my average CPC bid had been 15 cents, my ROI’s would have been much higher (assuming I could achieve similar results with a lower bid).

However, I observed some strong side benefits during the ad campaigns, which I discuss next. My short-term ROI would actually exceed 100% if these factors are attributed to the ads.


Print Sales

One of my books, which ordinarily sells better in print than Kindle, saw paperback sales double during the month of February. This wasn’t just double January, but double months from 2014, too.

When I first started running KDP ad campaigns, I saw a bump in print sales of a few of the advertised books. Only one saw print sales double, but a few saw them improve.

I don’t think it will be typical of advertised books to sell more in print. This clearly favors books that ordinarily sell more often in print.

Similar Books

Another thing that I noticed was that for several advertised books, similar books saw an increase in sales.

In the best case, I saw sales of a closely related title double in February compared to previous months. This was the most extreme case, but I saw significant improvement in many titles where a similar book had been advertised.

If these two factors are due to the ads, then my short-term ROI’s on these ads actually exceed 100%. I need more data to be sure, but it’s encouraging.


I don’t have a sequential series like many fiction authors have, but I have interacted with series authors who have seen sequential volumes sell much better after advertising the first in the series.

It helps to already have a measure of your progression ratios. For example, R2 = Vol. 2 sales / Vol. 1 sales, R3 = Vol. 3 sales / Vol. 2 sales, and so on.

Suppose R2 = 50%, R3 = 40%, and R4 = 25%. Then for every 100 copies of Volume 1 you sell, you should expect to sell 50 copies of Volume 2, 20 copies of Volume 3, and 5 copies of Volume 4. (For example, 100 x R2 x R3 x R4 tells you how many copies of Volume 4 you should sell, on average, for every 100 sales of Volume 1.)

If you have good measures of your R’s, you can actually calculate how much you can afford to lose advertising Volume 1 and still come out ahead overall. (If you’re thinking about making Volume 1 perma-free, there is a similar calculation that you’d like to apply.)

Kindle Unlimited

Another possible side benefit is that the ad might result in more Kindle Unlimited downloads. (Your book must be enrolled in KDP Select in order to be eligible for an AMS ad campaign.)

This helps your sales rank, and if they are read to 10%, they also show up as borrows.


Even if your short-term ROI is a loss, your book advertisement may still be profitable.

It’s harder to predict and measure long-term benefits. If you can break even short-term, or at least only suffer a small percentage loss, then you have good prospects for reaping long-term rewards. If you suffer a large short-term loss, then you’re putting pressure on those long-term benefits just to break even.

However, there may be situations where you have other goals, like just getting readers as a new author, branding an image, going all out for a hot promotion, supplementing other marketing, etc. In those cases, it may be worth a short-term loss for possible long-term gain.

Possible long-term benefits include:

  • creating brand recognition (this is how advertising really works: people tend to buy products they recognize; most people don’t run out to the store when they see an ad, but after enough repetition, months later they tend to favor a product they’ve heard of before)
  • future sales from readers who want to read more of your work
  • improved exposure through sales spurts, customers-also-bought list expansion, improved sales rank, etc.

If you’re taking a big short-term loss, this can get stressful. It’s hard to count on possible benefits. You hope to see actual sales.

It may be easier if you currently earn good monthly royalties. If you only invest a small percentage of your average monthly royalties on paid advertising, this lessens the impact of your advertising risk. When you’re a new author investing more than you’re initially making, the risk seems much more significant.


An interesting possibility is running an AMS advertisement to help promote a Countdown Deal or KDP Select free promo.

Two downsides of the freebie are that you don’t earn any royalties during the promo and “sales” won’t show on your KDP ad report, so you won’t know if any of your “sales” came from the ad or not.

However, it’s not uncommon for authors to pay for advertising to help promote their freebies. For example, this is common with BookBub. So for those who already do this, running a KDP ad for a freebie is just another possible way to bring exposure to freebies. Obviously, your immediate ROI will be 0%. This is a big risk, but a possible way to bring exposure.

Freebies and Countdown Deals are sort of hit or miss. I tried a couple of Countdown Deals coupled with advertisements. I didn’t do any external promotion. (That’s not recommended; I was just testing this out.)

Two of my advertised Countdown Deals turned out to be duds; just slight improvements to sales when advertised at regular price. But one of my advertised Countdown Deals was extraordinary, bringing 20 times as many sales during this week compared to advertising at regular price. In this case, the added sales easily made up for the lower royalty of the promotional price.

Why did two show a slight increase and the other explode? Great question! I think it helps to get lucky; a few initial sales help to get the ball rolling. Once sales rank takes off, if it does, things can really get rolling with an advertised hot promotion.

But if the ball doesn’t get rolling, your promotion just sits there and fizzles out before it starts.

So my recommendation is to market your promotion externally, and just use AMS as one of multiple means of bringing exposure to your promotion. Use BookBub, E-reader News Today, Book Gorilla, or other means of externally bringing attention to your promotion, and consider combining AMS with this. (Or advertise externally and then at regular price, just after the ad finished, perhaps AMS can help you capitalize on some added sales at regular price.)


Measure Your Book’s Marketability

I recommend running an ad just to measure your SPC conversion rate. Divide your sales by your clicks. If this is about 1% or less, it suggests that your product page (or targeting) have substantial room for improvement. It could be the cover, blurb, Look Inside, or book idea, for example. If your SPC is 10% or higher, it shows that your book has great potential for sales, and should motivate you to work hard at your marketing, knowing that you have good prospects for selling books if you can just drive (relevant) traffic to your product page. When only 1 out of 100 customers who reach your product page buys your book, it’s a lot harder to be motivated to market.

Test the Market

I saw another author run two short-term ads with very specific targeting in order to gauge the popularity of similar, but different products. The author was deciding between two book ideas. This was a creative way to use these ads.

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
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more


Sensible Advertising

Images from Shutterstock


Authors can now advertise their Kindle Select books on

But is it worth it?

The minimum KDP ad campaign budget is $100 and the minimum bid is 2 cents.

You can also advertise on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Or you can advertise a promotion with BookBub, E-reader News Today, and a host of similar sites.

Will this be money well spent?

Or would it be better sitting in your pocket?


  1. Temptations
  2. Advertising Goals
  3. Advertising Budget
  4. Short-term ROI Expectations
  5. Other Considerations


If you try an ad with bidding options, you may find yourself tempted to make potentially foolish decisions.

Here’s what might happen. You might place an ad with a 2-cent bid, but when you check your reports, you might see very little activity.

So you might raise your bid to 5 cents. You might see a little more activity, but still very little.

Then you might try 10 cents.

You want to see something happen, right? This is the age of instant gratification, after all.

So the natural tendency is to keep raising the bid until something happens.

And when it finally does, you might suddenly get thousands of impressions and hundreds of clicks.

And before you realize it, your $100 is all gone.

With little to show for it.

Amazon Marketing Services is new to KDP, so thousands of KDP Select authors are playing with it. Many are bidding higher and higher just to see some activity in their reports.

Also, there may be delays, stalls, or bugs in the reporting. It may not be instant feedback.

Before you make a rash decision, you want to think this through. Try to make a wise and informed decision, with specific goals in mind.

Be patient. Especially with Amazon Marketing Services, since it’s new, if you just wait days or weeks, eventually things will settle down and a lower bid will get you more impressions for your money.

Thus, waiting may get you more bang for your buck. Remember, Amazon recommends a CPC (cost-per-click) bid of 5 cents, so in the long run, lower bids are likely to make many more impressions than they appear to be making right now.


The first step is to identify and rank your advertising goals.

Unfortunately, most advertisements do not pay good short-term returns when it comes to books.

So if your primary goal is to make a quick buck, advertising probably isn’t the tool you’re looking for.

You might take a sizable short-term loss when you advertise.

That’s the risk you take, with the hope that other benefits will outweigh the short-term loss.

But the short-term return is also worth figuring when weighing benefits against risks. Look later in this article for help figuring this.

Here are examples of goals that you might have with your ad campaign:

  • branding your book
  • exposure for a new book, series, or author
  • help promote a short-term discount
  • landing on a hot new release or bestseller list
  • initial sales
  • improved sales rank
  • long-term sales, recommendations, reviews
  • establishing a reader base

The hope is that if you take a short-term loss with paid advertising, there will eventually be long-term gains to make up for it.

If paid advertising always returned your initial investment, everyone would do it.

Here are some of the possible long-term benefits:


The ad itself is likely to create impressions. These impressions help with branding.

People who see your book multiple times over a long period are more likely to recognize it. People are more likely to buy products they feel familiar with.

Branding can lead to long-term sales, sometimes several months down the line.


Advertising tends to bring very many impressions, some clicks, and few sales.

The short-term sales may seem dismal. If so, you hope that branding makes up the difference several months later.

If you have a hot promotion going on, an ad may be somewhat more successful. But then you earn less royalty on the short-term sales.

Some authors actually pay for ads to promote freebies, often hoping to help build buzz for a new book and to generate word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews from early readers.

If your ad is successful at generating sales, long-term if not short-term, eventually those sales can add to your reader base, post reviews (only a tiny percentage though), recommend your book to others, buy more books you’ve written, follow you online and buy your next book, etc.

Every follower you add may potentially buy several of your books (but your book has to really merit this).


How much can you afford to invest in advertising?

You’re obviously limited by the finances you have on-hand.

But even if you have money to invest, you should also ask yourself:

How much do you currently net in monthly royalties?

It’s a lot easier for an author earning $1000 or more per month on royalties to invest 10% of that in advertising than it is for an author earning $50 per month to part with $100.

Spending a fraction of your royalties on advertising is a reasonable investment. You have something substantial to show at the end of the month even if it’s a bust.

Spending more than your monthly royalties on advertising is risky. You might face a net loss, for all your hard work to write the book.

But you’re hoping to advance from low monthly royalties to medium or high monthly royalties, right? You’re hoping that the investment will help you move on up.

So consider my next question.

Do you have compelling reason to expect significant growth in your royalties (aside from the possible benefits of advertising)?

Will you be writing more similar books? If so, are you getting some consistent sales (even if it’s a very low frequency) with your current book?

Are you presently seeing an overall trend of growth in sales over a long period of time?

Ideally, you’d like some sort of evidence to suggest that your future royalties will help cover a possible investment today.

If not, it might be worth starting out with free marketing and publishing more books, to help build consistent sales.

Once you see evidence that future royalties may be enough to warrant your advertising expense, then you’re in a better position to try it.

But there are a few authors who really do their research (comparing similar books in the beginning), who have some marketing experience, etc., and who launch their books with a bang and have the confidence that it’s going to work out. Advertising is a risk, but if you have done your homework and you have such confidence, you must decide if you an afford this risk. The worst-case scenario is that it’s a bust. Can you afford that?

What are your book expenses?

Some authors invest a large sum of money on editing, cover design, formatting, and other publishing expenses.

(Maybe I should have written a post on $en$ible publishing expenses before writing this one…)

It’s tempting to think, “I’ve already spent several hundred dollars, so what’s another $100 on top of that?”

Well, if your book will make a $2 royalty, for example, that’s an extra 50 books that you have to sell to recover your expenses.

Especially, if it’s your first book, knowing that many stand-alone books don’t sell too many copies, that’s making an already big risk even bigger.

If you have more modest expenses, you still must factor them in when setting your advertising budget.

Your goals may factor into this, too.

Some authors invest a lot of money into their books and honestly don’t care about royalties.

A few authors actually donate their royalties to charity. A few don’t need the money, write merely as a hobby, and just want the readers, however they may come.

Most authors want or need those royalties for one reason or another, and so the financial aspect is significant to them.

But if you have unique goals, that can change your perspective on setting an advertising budget. (But at least consider things like living expenses, income, retirement, etc., i.e. make sure that you can afford to invest in advertising.)

Investing a fraction of your net monthly royalty income on advertising is reasonable.

The more consistent your monthly royalties have been and the more compelling reasons you have to expect growth, the better you can afford to invest a higher percentage of your monthly royalties.


Short-term return-on-investment (ROI) can sometimes be quite low for book advertising.

For this reason, it really helps if you have other strong goals besides quick sales. You might not get any extra sales from your ad, and if you do, they might be fewer than you’re hoping.

Here are two typical numbers to be aware of:

  • 0.1% ctr (click-through rate). You may average 1000 impressions per click. Some ads do better, some worse, but this is fairly common.
  • 1% closing rate. You may average 100 clicks per sale. This figure can vary quite a bit, but 1% is respectable.

So if you run an ad and it creates 100,000 impressions, for example, you might get 100 clicks and 1 sale (on average).

Ideally, if you’re investing $100 or more, you’d like to create several hundred thousand impressions so that you might receive hundreds of clicks and hopefully a few sales.

The impressions and clicks help you with branding and exposure, so the hope is that these numbers will help in the long run, even if the short-term ROI is quite low.

Or, for authors running hot promotions, trying to climb onto hot new release or bestseller lists, those few extra sales, if they can get them, may make the difference.

With KDP’s ad campaign through Amazon Marketing Services, you only pay for clicks.

In this case, if you aim for a 1% closing rate (sales divided by clicks), with a $100 budget, here is how your short-term ROI relates to your average CPC (cost-per-click) bid:

  • An average 2-cent bid gives an estimated ROI of 50 times your royalty.
  • An average 3-cent bid gives an estimated ROI of 33 times your royalty.
  • An average 4-cent bid gives an estimated ROI of 25 times your royalty.
  • An average 5-cent bid gives an estimated ROI of 20 times your royalty.
  • An average 10-cent bid gives an estimated ROI of 10 times your royalty.
  • An average 20-cent bid gives an estimated ROI of 5 times your royalty.
  • An average 50-cent bid gives an estimated ROI of 2 times your royalty.

So if your book royalty is $2, if you can achieve a 1% closing rate, you could actually break even. Not all books will achieve a 1% closing rate though.

Amazon’s recommended CPC bid is 5 cents. If your average bid is 5 cents, you earn a royalty of $2, and you achieve a 1% closing rate, your estimated short-term ROI would be about $40. That’s a $60 short-term loss, with potential long-term gains. If your ad runs its full course and you get all 2000 clicks, you might make a couple hundred thousand impressions, which may help with branding.

If you earn a higher royalty, like $3 or $4 per book, this allows you to bid somewhat higher, or you can go with the recommended bid with higher hopes for returns.

Especially, if your book normally sells on its own. If not, you’re probably less likely to see that 1% closing rate. Advertising probably isn’t the answer to, “Why isn’t my book selling?”

If you can achieve a higher closing rate, like 3% to 5%, this nets you a higher short-term ROI, or you can afford to bid more. But you won’t know what your average closing rate is until you’ve run ads and have received several hundred clicks. If you get a lower closing rate, like 0.1% to 0.5%, this will give you a much lower short-term ROI.

Bidding higher will probably help your ad make impressions faster and get clicks faster, which means that your ad will be over sooner. You also get fewer clicks overall with higher bids, which means a much lower short-term ROI.

If you have a hot short-term promotion to advertise, it might be worth bidding high enough to make all of your impressions while your book is on sale. But remember, you get fewer clicks and a much lower short-term ROI by doing so. More of your hope is on long-term dividends.

If you earn a small royalty, like 34 or 70 cents, your ROI is much less. Your ad is much more likely to have a dismal short-term ROI. But if you succeed in getting many extra sales, albeit at lower royalties, there could be some long-term benefit. Your lower price won’t necessarily net you significantly more sales, though. You really need to supplement freebies and Countdown Deals by free marketing (e.g. relevant bloggers helping to spread the word) or other directed paid marketing (like BookBub and E-reader News Today) to get the most out of a free or sale price. In this case, a KDP ad campaign should just be one of your promotional strategies.

High bids, like 20 cents and up, are very risky. These eat up your clicks faster and pay much smaller ROI’s. You really need a compelling reason to take this large short-term loss. Maybe if you have a large following, the next book in your series has good prospects of hitting the hot new release or bestseller lists, and you want to go all out for every last sale in case it makes the difference.


There are many factors involved in advertising, including:

  • more books: The more similar books you have, the more potential benefit there is. Customers might buy more than one book.
  • current sales: Books that sell on their own are more likely to benefit from advertising. Spending money on ads isn’t likely the magic cure.
  • reviews: Do you have enough to attract readers and to minimize the risk from one bad review?
  • targeting: Advertising tends to be more effective when you reach your specific target audience. On the other hand, if your targeting is too narrow, you might not make a significant number of impressions. It pays to do some research.
  • cover: A cover that clearly signifies the genre and attracts your specific target audience (even in the tiny ad thumbnail) has a distinct advantage.
  • product page: The better your blurb and Look Inside, the better impact these will have on your closing rate.

Monitor your ad. You can pause your ad if things aren’t progressing as desired. You can even terminate your ad, if necessary. If you’re not happy with the results, try editing your ad (though not every option may be editable).

Keep an eye on your product page and on your ad stats. You might see the money vanishing rapidly without results to show for it, for example. If you catch this early on, you can at least try changing your ad up or pausing it, rather than just let your entire budget run its course.


I’ve been fascinated with this new option to advertise KDP Select books with Amazon Marketing Services, and so I’ve now written several articles on the subject.

You’re probably sick of reading about it on my blog.

Well, don’t worry.

I have some different topics coming up. 🙂

Though eventually when I have a good statistical sample of data, I’ll probably report it. It will be a while before that day comes, however.

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
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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How/Where Does Your Ad Display on Amazon?

Ad Page

Click on this image to view it full-screen.


Amazon now allows KDP Select authors to advertise their books on

The picture above is a screenshot of my desktop. You can see an ad for a Kindle in the bottom right corner.

This ad shows near the top right of the product page, where the buying options are. So when you proceed to buy a book, you see the ad for another there.

The ads come in three sizes:

  • 270 x 150
  • 300 x 250
  • 217 x 128

The display size evidently depends on where your ad appears. Near the buy button is just one of the possibilities.

You can preview your ad in all three sizes before committing to a campaign. This means you can play with the tool without actually using it.


Worth noting: The last image, i.e. the smallest one, is the one that appears near the purchase button on the product page. This ad also just shows the first few words of the title.

You see a small image of your thumbnail in the ad.

If the thumbnail were larger, it would help with branding better. But that presently is an option.

So if you wish to use this ad to get better branding with impressions, you ideally want a cover thumbnail with:

  • two huge keywords in the title so that they stand out even in this tiny thumbnail
  • a simple, yet striking design, effective at grabbing your target audience
  • details will get lost; busy designs will be too much to convey anything in the thumbnail
  • one main clear image is what you might be able to brand through impressions
  • a good color scheme for your genre and content
  • a very clear instant signal for what kind of book this is (otherwise, you’ll get wasted clicks)

This is more challenging than the usual cover design because the size is reduced compared to normal.

One of the ads only shows the first few words of the title, so a short title that clearly signifies the genre is an advantage. The subtitle doesn’t show.

The ad also shows list price and review info.


The display might not be what you expect when you choose your targeting.

For example, if you look at the screenshot that I included with this post, you can see an ad for a totally unrelated book. That is, unrelated to the book featured on that product page.

The ad doesn’t just display on the product pages of the interests or products that you target. That’s not how it works.

You don’t tell the ad, “Hey, just show up on the product pages of sci-fi books.”

You can tell the ad, “Find customers who have shopped for sci-fi and fantasy books in the Kindle Store in the past.” This is called interest targeting.

This does NOT restrict the ad to only show on the product pages of sci-fi and fantasy books.

Then what does it do? It shows the ad to customers who have shopped for sci-fi and fantasy books in the Kindle Store in the past. They might be checking out a nonfiction book now, or a romance book, or whatever. As long as they’ve shopped for sci-fi and fantasy in the past, it doesn’t matter what kind of product they are looking at now.

The other kind of targeting is product targeting.

You don’t tell the ad, “Hey, just show up on this book’s product page.”

You tell the ad, “Find people who have viewed these books’ product pages in the past.”

So your ad won’t just show on those books’ product pages. It will show to customers who have viewed those product pages in the past, but it doesn’t matter what kind of product the customer is looking at right now.

It’s fine. It’s showing your book to customers with related interests. It just might not work the way you expect.

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
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

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