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

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

  1. You are an unending source of information, Chris. I know every time I come over here, I’m going to bookmark that post, because I will have to come back to it soon (launching soon, I hope), and your info is timely.

    OTOH, gak! There is so much stuff! How do you keep it straight? Where do you start?

    Let me know if you get around to offering services as well as books. You’re a treasure trove.

    • Blogging and writing about s.p. actually helps me organize my thoughts.🙂

      There are 2 reasons I don’t offer services. For one, I always have too many projects going on, so there wouldn’t be time. Then I wouldn’t have the heart to accept payment from a new author, knowing how hard it is for things to take off. My hope is to provide free help, advice, and ideas that may help others. I’d love to see many more indies break through. That’s something I love to see, no matter how they went about it (provided it was scrupulous, of course).

  2. Chris,
    Just completed my first book. I have purchased and read your “Self-Publishing With AMAZON” guide, volume I. It’s a fine piece of work and has been very useful to me. Thank you!

    My plan is to publish using AMAZON (as soon as I finish ironing out a bunch of necessary details which do not seem relevant — but they are.)

    That’s a beautiful picture of you and your daughter.

    Thanks again,

    Howard Myers

  3. Hi Chris – Thanks very much for this post. It was extremely helpful.

    Quick question for you. On the report Amazon provides, is the click-through rate per specific product reported (assuming you are doing product targeting, not interest targeting)?

    I ask because I am trying to figure out whether I can run a single campaign with lots of different target products (some books, some movies, slightly different topics, etc.) and be able to assess the results per product type/subject. On the other hand, if only a single click-through rate is reported, I’m thinking it would be better to run separate campaigns to get a clearer feel for results per target “type”.

    Hope that makes sense. Any info is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi, Karen. The reports just show how many clicks you get, but don’t break it down by product (unfortunately). I haven’t tried running two ads for the same product at the same time with different product targeting. One concern is that I might wind up bidding against myself.

      You might not be targeting the product page that you target. You might be targeting the product page of a shopper who had browsed for the product that you selected in the past. This way, it seems like your two ads run at the same time with different products targeting could be competing against each other. (Now if you run them at different times, that might reveal something interesting.)

      Good luck with your ad.

  4. I just signed up for 2 KDP Marketing Service campaigns. I’m hoping it’s worth the small investment. It was certainly easy to create ads and sign up.🙂 Glad I found your blog today, following here now too!

    Have a great weekend, G

    • Good luck with your ads.🙂 Remember, you can pause or terminate your ad at any time; you’re not obligated to spend $100. Or you can change your bid. Thanks for discovering and following my blog.

  5. Thanks for the help.
    I would really appreciate any kind of more specific info you might be able to provide concerning exact bids… All I see here is a vague “more than ten cents” reference. I was thinking .25? Is that too generous?

    • I placed one ad on April 19. It has an average CPC bid of 5 cents, I’ve spent $10.81, I’ve made 339,700 impressions, there have been 203 clicks, and it’s generated $21.92 in sales.

      Another ad I placed on May 3 for a totally different kind of book. It has an average CPC bid of 9 cents, I’ve spent $8.92, I’ve made 35,647 impressions, there have been 95 clicks, and it’s generated $20.93 in sales.

      But depending on the genre or category, you may not make any impressions with a bid under 10 cents. My highest average CPC bid is 27 cents. On that ad, I’ve spent $2.74, made 7150 impressions, there have been 12 clicks, and I’ve made one sale for $4.99.

      The higher you bid, the greater your risk of losing money. My strategy is to start out with a very low bid, wait a few days, if I’m not making impressions, revise the targeting, wait a few days, then only gradually and slowly raise the bid as needed, always waiting a few days between changing because the data isn’t shown in real-time. With this strategy, I’m at lesser risk of losing money.

      You can always pause or terminate your ad at any time if it’s not going well. Good luck.

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