Author Services: Amazon’s PPC Advertising Platform

Winter Wolf by RJ Blain - Cover ArtFor those using KDP Select, Amazon's exclusive self-publishing platform, an interesting new tool has been released. I don't even know what the platform is technically called. It's a PPC/CPC (Pay per click/Cost per click) system designed to allow self-publishers to promote their novels.

Before I became a novelist, I worked in the marketing department for an online dating site. Before I was shifted to online dating, I worked in marketing for adult websites. PPC is a form of advertising we used often, as it was much easier to judge results and manage ROI (Return on Investment) compared to other types of advertising, including CPM (Cost per Mille, which is a cost per every 1,000 impressions/views.)

Since the definitions make a difference, I'm going to take a few minutes to discuss the differences between PPC and CPM. I'm also going to talk about why these forms of advertising might be a good thing for authors.

I'm always going to be a fan of PPC. It's easier to control. Spending isn't undermined by adblocking software. If you do not get the click, you do not spend the cash. In CPM, the advertiser doesn't give a hoot if the users click on the banner or advertisement. It's a fast way to spend a lot of money very quickly.

In general, unless you have gotten ad space on a very predominant site that has managed to get around adblocking software, I will never recommend CPM campaigns. At my job, we'd see some success with CPM, but it was always, always, always a higher risk.

In the case of a click on amazon, it means someone is actively looking at your book and deciding whether or not to purchase it. That's a good thing. You know you've gotten in front of your readers.

I do not have a huge budget for advertising this year, but I've decided to give KDP's new advertising platform a test drive.

This post will share my experiences with the first phase of setting up a new campaign with amazon.

Step One: Access the Advertising Platform

KDPPPC1

It's pretty simple: Instead of Manage Benefits, it now reads “Promote and Advertise.” Clicking on this link will take you into the advertising platform.

You will have to log in for security purposes.

Step Two: Choose your Poison

KDPPPC2 Selecting advertising options ams amazon

You can choose to use the free benefits of KDP as normal. You also have the option to Run an ad campaign. That's what we click in order to access the ad management system.

I am going to set up a campaign for Inquisitor for this post. I've already set up one for Winter Wolf, which is currently in the creative hellhole of creative review with Amazon. (Results pending.)

KDPPPC3 novel selection amazon amsYou will notice several things about this screen shot. First, you will see that one of my titles is ineligible. Preorders can't be enrolled in the ad campaign. Only novels that are currently enrolled in KDP Select and are available for sale can opt into an advertising campaign.

I'm selecting Inquisitor.

Step Three: Choose Outlet, Costs, & Budget

KDPPPC4 Campaign Selection Amazon AMS

There is a lot going on here, but it's pretty easy. If you have never done PPC/CPM before, I really recommend that you use ‘By Interest' as it is easier to set up. By Interest is using a broad field–in my case, all users interested in Science Fiction & Fantasy.

The campaign name is to let you see what the campaign is for at a glance in the overview system.

The Cost-Per-Click Bid is your most important decision, with Budget a close second. Budget is how much you want to spend over the entirety of the campaign. In my case, I'm using the minimum budget allowance, which is $100. It'll be charged to my credit card in $1-100 increments. If I spend all of my budget in an hour, they'll just ding my credit card once. If it takes me a month to spend my budget, they will hit my card in lower intervals.

I'm leaving the campaign settings alone; if I use up my budget before the end date, great, if not–great!

Now, I selected $0.05 as my capped CPC. Here's where things will get iffy for new advertisers. CPC is a bid system. In order for your advertisement to show, you must be the highest bidder. The highest bidder pays one cent more than the second highest bidder. If the ad spot has a second highest bidder of $0.04, my ad will show, costing me $0.05 for the impression.

I'm only charged if someone clicks on the advertisement.

In theory, I could show a bunch of advertisements at $0.01. $0.05 is simply my highest allowed bid. It isn't necessarily the amount I'll always pay per click. It all depends on what other advertisers are doing–and how many times my ad has been shown to a specific user. (While I can't confirm this, I'd bet my socks Amazon is tracking that information.)

Step Four: Submit Campaign for Review. Wait.

The waiting period is between 24-72 hours. My Winter Wolf campaign was accepted… and then rejected… within 12 hours.

Apparently, my book cover was not sufficient as creative. This is baffling to me, as so far, there doesn't appear to be a way to submit new creative to their system. Creative being the advertising content to be used on Amazon. They use the book's cover.

I have contacted Amazon asking for an explanation.

Since Winter Wolf's cover was rejected by Amazon, I'm expecting Inquisitor's cover to likewise be rejected by Amazon. But, we'll see, I guess.

My Initial Thoughts

Amazon gets a full 5* out of 5* for ease of set up. I've done a lot of CPC/CPM and other types of advertisements over the years. This one was one of the easiest. It's minimal, but it's minimal in all of the right ways.

Their acceptance and rejection of Winter Wolf's campaign has me quite annoyed, however, so they get a 0* out of 5* for insufficient information on why the accepted campaign was rejected half an hour later.

I may change this rating if they get back to me with a better explanation than “We're rejecting this campaign because of non-explanatory reason.”

If I get a campaign accepted, I will continue this author services review.

That said, if I get a campaign accepted, I have relatively high hopes for the performance of this sort of campaign. It has a great deal of potential.

If I don't get a campaign accepted and someone else does and is willing to share their sales data with me, I can continue the review using someone else's data. I would require full data on the title being sold, a breakdown of additional advertising/marketing being done on the title, and financials relating to the promotion.

Once I learn why Winter Wolf was rejected for advertising, I'll let you know. Until then, just imagine my frustrated screams echoing in the desert wasteland that is my mind at the moment.

And my tossing flaming balls of death down into the deeps. Because frustrating.

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6 comments
Author Services: Amazon’s AMS Snubs Thriller/Mystery/Genre Authors – On Writing says February 10, 2015

[…] AMS, its new Pay Per Click advertising platform (yes, the one I talked about yesterday in this post), takes aim at the authors of thriller and mystery genres, with a notable number of civilian […]

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Author Services Guide: Using Amazon’s AMS Platform Effectively – On Writing says February 12, 2015

[…] week, I’ve talked a lot about Amazon’s AMS platform, first announcing the system and my hopes for it, as well as ranting about some of the more idiotic elements of their creative guidelines. Today, […]

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Author Services Guide: Using Amazon’s AMS Platform Effectively | On Writing says February 13, 2015

[…] week, I’ve talked a lot about Amazon’s AMS platform, first announcing the system and my hopes for it, as well as ranting about some of the more idiotic elements of their creative guidelines. Today, […]

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L. S. says March 28, 2015

My ad was accepted by Amazon. I chose .05 cpc. It started on 2/21 and I stopped it today. In that time, they only displayed it 37 times. My target was YA and science fiction/fantasy.

I opened a support ticket with them and after weeks of “looking into it” they came back and said, “we don’t know why we’ve only displayed it a few times. Why don’t you try amazon ecommerce?”

I thought that was what I was using.

Then, I tried to start another couple of ads but now my book is ineligible for some unknown reason. Frustrating to say the least!

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    RJBlain says March 28, 2015

    As soon as my campaigns finish on their own, I’ll go into my results–but I will say this much: To get any sort of volume of impressions at all, I needed a CPC of over $0.20; I even experimented with $0.50 cpc for a bit, and the volume was really bad.

    There are a lot of reasons a cover might be ineligible; Winter Wolf isn’t because of the presence of a gun on the cover–any weapon might flag them against showing it… but swords have slipped through thus far. Guns are a big no-no, though. :/

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Luca says April 7, 2015

I started some campaign for the English edition of my thriller novel (34 days in the top100 on amazon.it).
I experienced the same frustrating rejection/acceptance effect on the campaign.
Without a CPC higher than 1.00 no significative impressions.
After some campaigns (costs: almost 350$) total sales of 27$
Much better than Google AdWords (ratio spent/sold = 3000$/0$), but not very thrilling (for the author).
Twitter is still much better, providing also a lot of followers, but I can run it only in my language (italian) because of the necessary involvement and the interaction.

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