Amazon Marketing Services for KDP Select Titles

Amazon Marketing Services LogoAmazon rolled out a new advertising option in the last few days and, as with all things Amazon related, it set the author blogosphere abuzz. If you have published books through Amazon’s KDP Select program, when you go to your KDP bookshelf, you should see a link that says “Promote and Advertise.”

Amazon advertising IU1

If you are interested in giving this new option a whirl, click that button and you will be taken to a page that looks like this:

Amazon advertising IU2Click on the “Create an Ad Campaign” button. That will initiate this dark page for a moment. Don’t panic. There are no new account forms for you to fill out.

Amazon creating advertising services account

Then you will be taken to to a page where you can choose which book you want to promote.

Amazon advertising IU3

After you select the book, you will go to a page where you are presented with two ways to promote it: by specific product (think: a bestseller that is similar to your book)

Amazon target your ad by product

or by interest (think: categories like Thrillers, Memoirs, etc.)

Amazon target your ad by interest

At the bottom of that page, you will be able to name your campaign (helpful if you are running numerous simultaneous campaigns,) set your cost per click, and total budget for the campaign. I’ve heard from some writers that one of the hang-ups with the program is the cost. In order to participate, you have to be willing to commit to spending a minimum of $100 over the life of the campaign. However, if you don’t get enough clicks to use that budget over the sixty days a campaign lasts, you are only charged for what you do use.

Amazon set campaign name and budget

The good news is, you don’t have to design the ad. It’s generated for you automatically. Here’s what the ad will look like for a campaign I just authorized:

Amazon advertising IU4

So, that’s the mechanics of how it works. Now, the more important question: Should you use this tool? As with all things, you should make up your own mind, but here’s what I’ve been able to gather in the very early days of this program.

Amazon has been beta testing this for months now. I was not asked to be a beta tester, but several authors I know did participate. Their results, along with other beta tester reports I’ve found online today, were, at best, underwhelming. I saw one post where a writer whose veracity I trust said he had spent $600 in testing the program and had earned back only $28. A good friend of mine said that she never got a single click, so it didn’t cost her anything, but was essentially a waste of time.

Something else to consider is that Amazon isn’t accepting all books that are submitted. That appears to be due to what is on the cover: a visible gun, a partially nude cover model, a pool of blood, all of which have been reportedly turned down for the program. I think Amazon is treading carefully, not wanting an inappropriate image showing up when an eight year old searches for a Thomas the Tank Engine video. I can’t say as I blame them for that, but eliminating guns, blood, and half-naked people will eliminate a huge percentage of the Romance, Thriller, and Horror books out there.

That’s the bad news. I tend to discount the experiences of the beta testers somewhat, as I am not privy to how they set up their campaigns. In order to be successful, I see two key components. 1) You have to set the campaign up so that it qualifies for a lot of potential showings. If you choose a single specific product, but that product has a sales ranking of over 500,000, there aren’t going to be a lot of eyeballs on that page to fight over. 2) The cost per click-thru. For my books (and others I’ve heard about) Amazon recommends a .05 cost per click. Since each time an ad could appear, it is essentially an insta-auction (with the highest cost per click bid automatically the winner) if you bid .02 per click, you’re not likely to get too many potential click-thrus.

I still believe this is potentially a useful tool, and I am putting my money where my belief is. I’ve authorized two $100 campaigns as a test. Since we are at the earliest stage of this, I don’t have any results to report, but I will file a follow up report in 30-60 days here on Indies Unlimited. I am running both a specific product and an interest campaign. The books that I am promoting are both memoirs with a romantic bent, so for one I picked the interest categories of Memoirs and Romance. For the other, I picked three specific books that are good matches for my own book. So, when people search those pages, my own books will potentially appear alongside them.

One way I can see this being a worthwhile tool is for niche non-fiction writers. Let’s say you write NF books about pregnancy. You could set up a campaign and pay for your ad to appear on products that are pregnancy related. If someone is looking at breast pumps or cribs, they might be interested in seeing an ad for a book about post-partum depression.

Another possibility is to help launch a new book. It’s very difficult to get exposure for new releases, as most book sites want to see a specific number of reviews before they will approve your book for an ad. As far as I can tell, although it’s not yet available for pre-orders, it could prove to be a valuable tool for gaining early exposure.

Is it worth putting your book into Select just to participate in this? This early in the game, I’m not sure it is. If I was in the anti-Select camp, this wouldn’t be enough to sway me into exclusivity. However, if you’ve already got one or more titles in Select, I can see where this is worth a try. It takes ten minutes to set it up, so if you don’t get any clicks, you’re not out anything. If, on the other hand, it works, it could end up being a valuable advertising venue.

Author: Shawn Inmon

Shawn Inmon is a full-time author who lives in the bucolic town of Seaview, Washington. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and they are privileged to share their home with two Chocolate Labs and a schizophrenic cat named Georgie. Shawn is the author of the twelve book Middle Falls Time Travel series, which has been produced in audio by Podium Publishing. He has eight other books, including travel books, romances, memoirs, and a collection of short stories. He promises to settle down and write in one genre. Someday. Learn more about Shawn on Facebook or his Author Central page

34 thoughts on “Amazon Marketing Services for KDP Select Titles”

    1. When Amazon launches a new service, I think there are two paths, equally valid: Jump in early and hope to catch the wave before Amazon jiggers with it, or wait to see how it plays out.

      When Select was first launched, the “correct” answer was to get in early, when each free book counted heavily on the Popularity List. With other products, such as the Kindle Countdown Deals, there was absolutely no advantage to being an early adopter.

      I don’t blame people for sitting the beginning out. There’s a lot of skepticism about this.

    1. I agree, Yvonne. If I was wide right now, this certainly wouldn’t be enough to entice me back to Select.

    1. Thank you, Lynne. Win, lose or draw, I will report back here with the results. I feel like a human crash test dummy.

  1. It will be interesting to see what your results are, Shawn. Another consideration is, even for those who don’t click through, seeing the ad is one more time that person is potentially exposed to your book which might make a difference in the future.

    1. That is absolutely a consideration for me, Al, although I neglected to mention it in my post. If my book is “seen” tens of thousands of times with few click-thrus, it costs me almost nothing, but generates many impressions. I see very little downside to that.

  2. I began the process yesterday and right off of the bat, they did not approve my ad because of the book cover (thriller suspense) and of course the font is scary. So I wrote back to Amazon on the customer comment part and said that I thought most of the thriller/suspense/horror/etc would not qualify for the advertising program unless they just wanted children’s books 🙂 and about an hour later I was now approved for the advertising campaign. So maybe they took the concern to someone. Just a note…if you are not approved…write a comment back to Amazon to see why not? They had sent me a 2 page rule sheet on what the specifications were to advertise on Amazon. The program has started for The Wolf’s Moon so I will also write a blog when I can see the statistics come back. I started with 0.03 and 100 limit. We shall see!

    1. Well, how cool is that? Really nice to see Amazon respond to an email with something other than an autoresponse. Look forward to seeing your blog when you report your results.

    1. You’re welcome, Mike. One thing I didn’t mention in the post is that you can cancel the campaign if you’re not happy with the way it is going. If you’re already in Select, it seems like there is very little downside to giving this a try.

        1. Hi VM, they only charge you as you get clicks. If you get no clicks, but yield impressions, then you are charged nothing. And they say you can cancel at any time. So if you get $10 worth of clicks, then you cancel, you only pay that $10 – is my understanding.

  3. Shawn, I did exactly what you did with two campaigns and one product and the other interest. I wanted to experiment with the amount I set my click price at and did one for $.10 and one for $.50. I’ll be curious to see if that affects. I’ll let you know!

    1. Awesome, Dianne. Thanks for letting me know. I can hardly wait to start seeing everyone’s results over the next few weeks and months.

  4. Great information. If I ever choose to put a book back into KDP Select, I’ll look into this promotion. I’m also looking forward to your post with results. Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative article.

    1. I probably share my results to a stupid extent, so I will be posting them here as soon as I think we have enough to be relevant. . Sometimes the things that don’t work can be as illustrative as those that do.

  5. Hi, Shawn. Great post. As soon I was alerted, I jumped on the Ads. I submitted for two and both were approved. One started this morning and by noon had 620 impressions and two sales. I did tick to allow Amazon to smooth out the campaign. Will it sell books? I don’t know. But the Ad campaign does not having me changing my plans for my titles for 2015. Some will stay in Select and some won’t. I do like the flexibility Amazon allows. Stop and pause, tweaking key works etc. Amazon will also automatically change the price of a book if the Ad starts on a FREE book and reverts to priced at the end of the FREE or KCD campaign. To sell books, we need to keep them visible. Perhaps Amazon Ads will do that. It is wait and see.

      1. Thanks for the article Shawn. My newest book has a smoking gun on the cover, so I guess I will skip the advertising campaign.
        I look forward to seeing the results.

  6. Very helpful analysis of a new tool. I’ve been looking at this for a couple of days without being game to go any further. I’m still not sure about the value so I’ll be interested in seeing how your advertising experiments work out.

  7. I just registered one of my books for this. It is approval is pending. I chose to pair it with several similar books by well known authors or similar books with a lot of reviews.

  8. I started my campaign two days ago and so far I have no results. I stopped advertising on all other venues to be able to detect more easily sales generated by the add. Not even one. Disappointed? Yes. But considering that this project is in its infancy I’ll probably give it a new try.

  9. Thank you for the information! I noticed the button yesterday, but was unsure what it was all about.

  10. I really don’t like the idea of KS or the indie ghetto of KU. So far all money spent on ads (twitter and facebook) plus one website freebee seem to have yielded me NOTHING. I don’t have $100 to waste. Yet, this is another temptation. But is that my desperation kicking in or could this be the next Book Bub and had I better get in before it becomes too exclusive? Geez.

    I hope there will be a second installment soon in Shawn’s adventure.

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