I love marketing but was wary of Amazon Marketing Services at first. I have know that Amazon was a pioneer in that type of related search technology long before it became an industry-wide practice. But AMS, at first, felt like a new pair of shoes: tight, uncomfortable, and in need of more time to stretch out before I shoved my big feet in them.
So, I left it alone.
Thanks to a Reedsy learning course, I’m back like Slim Shady and here’s how it’s going.
My First 10 Days with Amazon Marketing Service Ads
When I first checked it out eons ago, I needed $100 to start.
Yeah, well, that wasn’t feasible then.
Plus, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out because if I invest $100, I’m going to want to do more than just break even at best. But that’s the beauty of not being an early adopter, isn’t it? Sure, I lose a bit on the social currency side where I don’t try that new, shiny toy that (almost) everyone else is trying/talking/tweeting about.
Instead, I do gain insight from other advertisers’ flubs and foibles because some of that conversation will be bitching about what’s wrong and how this stinks, etc. The shiny toy starts to varnish.
What’s the Difference Between Amazon’s Sponsored & Product Ads?
For those of you who’ve never used AMS, it’s open to all Amazon sellers. Yes, that means authors as well. For bookmarketers, there are two options:
When you scroll down, these are results that are displayed under the heading “Sponsored Products Related To This Item.” They’re dictated by keywords that potential readers search for. You pay for the clicks that’ll hopefully bring you sales.
This option is based on “If you like this book, then check out this other book.” You tie your book to another book that you find from scanning that “similar authors” section on your author page, or in the related books in the sponsored section. The starting price for this is $100 and you’ll see these ads in three places: below the 1-Click buy box
You also have the option of the long banner (980×55, I think) at the top above the description and the final option is in the section where readers check out your reviews.
Starting My Sponsored Ads Journey
This was my route because I’m budget limited and thought it would be a good intro. I’m pretty familiar with keyword research and advertising as a certified content marketer. Now, for these ads, you have two options: Automatic or Manual.
Automatic is where you put your trust in Amazon’s machine learning to make recommendations for you. Here’s the “problem” I encountered. We live in an instant gratification situation these days and I’m not about to say “I’m immune” because I’m not.
After day one of Automatic, I had less than 10 impressions. The more impressions I get, the more likely the book will meet a ready-to-buy reader. To be fair, my budget is $1 a day and I’m at the minimum CPC (cost per click) of 25¢. The good thing about that is:
- I only pay for clicks and not impressions, so CTR (click-through rate) isn’t tabulated in the stats here
- I heard from plenty of selling authors that $1/day is good enough to do some decent sales
- Even though my CPC is 25¢, I pay less for the clicks from what I’m seeing, which helps the budget and will probably go down the longer the campaign runs.
But, again, instant gratification, or if not instant, then some indication that I’m not wasting time watching the grass grow.
I decided to multiply and split. Four of my books as Automatic, four as Manual.
How I Work Manual AMS Keyword Targeting
Having worked with Google Ads has taught me a few things about keyword research. The key learning applies in all cases and that’s planning for user intent. How?
Simple. Ask yourself, what question would my ideal customer ask to find my product?
The beauty of Amazon is that the audience is what they call warm, if not hot. That means they come to the site with money ready to buy something. It’s now up to the seller to be creative about how to steer the potential buyer to the product they sell.
That where planning for customer intention is vital.
I did some research and found some terms that would be relevant to my book. Amazon made some suggestions and I took a few as part of my initial 20 words. Of course, when I thought of more, I added them.
A Word About ACoS, Advertising Cost of Sales
As I mentioned, Amazon doesn’t tabulate CTR, at least not in the traditional way. Instead they do Advertising Cost of Sale or ACoS. It turned out that my manually targeted ads were getting more impressions and in short order, I got my first sale (YAY!)
That first sale was the boost I needed to show myself that there’s momentum to be built here.
Additionally, I got to see the ACoS in action. The equation for that (if you’re math squeamish, turn away) is
(cost of advertising / sales generated) x 100
For example, if you spend $1 in advertising and sell a $4.99 product, your ACoS is 20% ( (1 / 4.99) x 100 ). This means that for every 20¢ I spend, I make five times as much in sales. Not bad and over time, I’ll see if this is my normal. A nice, healthy ACoS means my book listings convert more clickers into buyers.
What you’ll want to do to get an idea of which keywords convert best for your manual campaigns is to click on the campaign and take a look. The keyword that’s giving you more bang for your buck is a keeper.
There are several factors that go into anyone buying our books and there are only a few of those factors we can control. What’s one of those? You guessed it: Planning for Intent
Thoughts On Manual vs. Automatic Targeting Sponsored Ads
Amazon Marketing Services is an evolving entity. That means it’s imperfect and no smarter than you are regardless of how sophisticated their machine algorithms are.
As authors, we have a different “inside scoop” than the AI and there’s more than enough room for both to work together. Taking a look at some of the words I added, some are getting impressions, others are okay, and the rest aren’t working.
Now, I’ve only been running these ads for a week or so, but it dawned on me that some of the keywords that are not getting impressions now, may need a boost in budget. I decided to add a few cents to their CPC to see if I can get them to move. I also increased the budget of some of the working keywords.
Sure, my ACoS may go up but over time, it should equalize. The ones that aren’t getting any traction regardless of additional CPC may be a bad fit for two reasons
- They’re broad and/or popular and their CPC may be too far out of range for me to get at this point. For example, if you’re trying to get impressions for the word “romance,” you may be out of competitive luck unless you have enough of a budget to get more than a few impressions.
- They aren’t being queried. Users don’t search on those terms.
If I don’t see any traction after about a two or three weeks, I’d pause them and focus on the ones that are giving you valuable traction.
Another thought is that it’s possible that your manual targeting is guiding the AMS algorithm. Of course, to prove that, I’d need to know the ins and outs of the code, which I don’t.
BUT, I did see my Automatic targeted listings get more impressions. As my manual keywords generate clicks and sales, these actions could inform the automatic targeting about what’s working, which would lead to more sales that could match or exceed my manual campaigns.
The other side is that while it may learn from what I’m doing, it doesn’t look Iike I can learn from it, but we’ll see if that’s right over time. Again, I have no concrete proof of this but it’s possible that my human assumptions could help the AI to increase its generation of clicks and sales.
Only time can tell.