Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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July 3, 2017

What you NEED to know for successful Amazon Ads!

Penny Sansevieri

The Amazon ad system (AMS), new to many authors, is creating quite a buzz in the community.  And though it’s a pretty easy set-up, the heart of the ads – and getting them right, can be tricky. This guide built out of many tests I’ve done with the ad system is pretty comprehensive and, I hope, helpful.

First things first – what kind of ads can you create? There are actually two types of ads that that the Amazon ad system offers for books – Sponsored Product Ads and Product Display ads.  

Sponsored Product Ads appear in searches, or on the book’s sales page, in a row at the bottom

Product Display Ads appear on the right side of a book’s sales page.

Creating Your Ads

Before you start

If you’re not sure which ad to choose, I can tell you that based on my research, I’m seeing better results in the Sponsored Ads. Why is this? Most likely due to the way they show up as readers search.

When it comes to creating your ads, before you get too far down the path let’s talk things to do versus things to avoid. If you’ve ever used the Google AdWords system you probably know that their keyword suggestions are generally pretty accurate. I also consider the Google system to be stronger than Amazon’s suggestions – enough so that you can ignore Amazon’s suggested keywords in their entirety. BUT, unlike Google’s ad system, where you can get by with having 50 or so keywords, you’ll need more to make the Amazon system work, a lot more. Generally, I recommend 300 to 400 keywords.

300 to 400? Yes, but it’s not as hard as you might think. One of the biggest issues authors face, when finding keywords to market their book, is that they pick words that really have very little search momentum or, conversely, are far too competitive (for example –  “contemporary romance”). Also, it’s worth considering your potential reader’s point of view – it may be worthwhile to use “wheat allergies” as a keyword for your book on gluten intolerance because your readers will often search based on their pain points, instead of your expertise.

Finding the right keywords

Before you even log into AMS, you’ll first want to start with your preliminary list of search terms (things that immediately come to mind when you think about your book). Two tips before you start: first, remember to use the Kindle store in Amazon; second, use a private search mode (on Chrome it’s called going “incognito”) so that your prior purchases/searches don’t affect your results. 

So first, start by typing in one of your keywords – and although you’ll ultimately want to use search strings rather than single words, you can start with a single word. In the example below, you can see what pops up when you type “paranormal.” Jot down these phrases to add to your list of keywords, but only use terms that are relevant to your book.

Once you’ve exhausted these search terms, you can start using your terms plus the word “and” or start digging through the alphabet, one letter at a time. So, “romance a”, “romance b”, “romance c” and so on.  The terms that pop up are actual searches people have done, so it’s a great way to expand your reach and find new keywords for both fiction and non-fiction.

Keep in mind that readers looking for fiction typically search based on book type, so “mystery thriller” “sci-fi fantasy” or “paranormal romance,” but for non-fiction, consumers will always search on their specific need, like “small business.”

Related book titles and author Names

Although I mentioned you’ll want to consider 300 to 400 search terms, once you have a good 25-50, it’s time to put the plan into action and actually search on them. Plug them up and see what comes up in the first page (and even second page) of Amazon’s search results, taking note of the author, book title and series title, if any. Also note that you can’t use special characters in AMS ads, so save yourself some time by not using hyphens, colons, or quotes because the ads system won’t accept it.

From this list, you can go down further into the funnel by checking out “also bought” lists for each book; it might take you a few hours, but it’s most likely a one-time effort, and well worth your time. Ultimately, you want to find books in your genre that are selling well and use that author and book title as part of your keywords. Note: while the KDP dashboard doesn’t allow this, it’s permissible in the AMS ads system.

Additionally, you can use the Amazon Bestsellers list, but it’s not always an accurate representation of where you want your book to be. For example, I was setting up ads for a contemporary, fairy tale romance and the books I found were often sitting in bestseller sections that were listed as “Christian,” or “mythology,” which didn’t suit the book. Bottom line, be cognizant of any categories listed in book details.

Don’t forget to look at Kindle books too – this gives you the opportunity to find any titles that didn’t come up in your original keyword search. I will sometimes go as deep as the top 60 books, because that’s some pretty good momentum. Next, take a look at the sidebar that reads “best sellers” and click on that list, too, since you may find some in the new release list that haven’t otherwise appeared yet.

Current Topics

Is there anything new or up-and-coming in the news or popular culture? Use these as keywords to tie into your book, too! Whether movies, things in the news, celebrities, politicians, or world events these all can have a long (or short) term effect on performance depending on how they trend.

Writing a Great Book Ad

Like many ads, your Amazon ad should be short and sweet. And consider grouping the ad by keywords if at all possible (that is, if you were able to get more than 200-300 keywords). What this means is that you can customize ads to specific topics, specialties, or areas of focus, especially if your book fits into a few areas. For example, you might have a book on growing a new business, or gluten intolerance, food allergies, or even a genre fiction book. Each of these titles has a subset of interests that you probably found in your book research, which in turn have their own strings of keywords, book titles and authors

Setting up Your Ads

To get started on AMS ads, head on over to the AMS dashboard here: https://ams.amazon.com/. You’ll log in with your Amazon account details and it’ll take you through the Amazon ad set up.  Select new campaign, and the type of campaign you want (in this case Sponsored Products).

Once there, it’ll give you the option to grab one of your books, then you can set a campaign name, daily budget and whether you want to end the ad campaign at a certain date, or within a date range. And here is where you select manual targeting, again, because Amazon’s selections aren’t going to be as strong as what you’ve come up with in your research. Enter your keywords in the system, hit save, and start writing your ad!

If you’re doing ads based on keyword segments, you’ll want to use those keywords in the ad itself. If not and need a starting point, search your genre on Amazon to see what kinds of Sponsored Posts are getting your attention. You can also do A/B testing (that is set up two otherwise identical campaigns with different ad copy) to see what nets you more impressions.

Boosting your AMS campaigns

In testing I’ve done, I’ve found that doing ads on books that aren’t included in the Kindle Unlimited program don’t do as well as those books that are KDP Select and therefore, part of this program. Why? Because a lot of readers in Kindle Unlimited are getting book recommendations from these ads and, though you may not see it in direct book sales, you’ll definitely see it in page reads in Kindle Unlimited.

Additionally, having a print version can increase your visibility, and even if you don’t sell many print books, your ads will do better. I’ve tested both fiction and non-fiction books with and without print and, hands down, print always helps boost your ad exposure. And if you have multiple books in a theme or genre (or even a series), can increase your exposure and overall sales.  Even if you only run an ad on one of them, by having more options, you increase visibility of all of your books on Amazon and drive potential readers to your offerings.

Finally, you can add the keywords from your ad to your book page, either via your book description, or any enhanced content you can include via Amazon Author Central. If you can include a keyword or two in your subtitle, even better. Keep in mind that your Amazon page is spidered, much like your website, so having ad keywords there is not only a great idea, but mandatory to get good bounce from your ads.

Ultimately, Amazon’s ad system is filled with great potential for your book sales, if you do it right! I’d love to hear about any successes you have!


Author MarkketingPenny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: mailto:subscribe@amarketingexpert.com

Copyright @2017 Penny C. Sansevieri

14 comments on “What you NEED to know for successful Amazon Ads!”

  1. I've been dipping my toes in! What would you consider a minimum amount to invest per daily ad? I have an Acos of 71% on one ad and have bid 25 cents per click with a budget of $2. Should I be investing more? Thanks!

  2. Thank you for this helpful information and leading the way through the maze of Amazon ads. I've heard of the use of the ads, but had no idea where to start. I've subscribed to your newsletter and look forward to more book marketing ideas.

  3. Great tools! Thank you. Question? When searching for keywords for a novel, the results often lead to non-fiction books, such as archaeology + Egypt. Shouldn't I be excluding non-fiction results? Thank you again. Awesome stuff.

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