“AMS Ads are dead,” said the not-so-savvy self-published author.
Don’t believe this lie. Advertising books on Amazon, or using Amazon Marketing Services ads, are stronger than ever, and – whether we like it or not – they are here to stay.
As a matter of fact, Amazon just rolled out a brand-new, improved UI for AMS; they have added new features, and are constantly creating training material to help authors better understand the platform.
Would they do that if AMS were on the way out? Not likely.
Sure, not every book is a good fit for Amazon ads: that’s why many Amazon published authors grow bitter and blame the platform for not being able to sell a book that would not be marketable anyways.
Those who don’t read the Self-Publishing School Blog and believe that Amazon advertising is dying will gradually move away from it, making the space less crowded and much more profitable for all of us.
Here are our tips for using Amazon marketing services effectively:
- Target famous authors with Amazon marketing services
- Target Amazon published books
- Target books featured on BookBub
- Target books that are recent movies
- Target paperback books
- Target audiobooks with Amazon Marketing Services
- Think about Amazon ads for your book series
- Grow your email list
- Advertise your backlist
- Use The Greatest Hits method
- The Amazon Ad puzzle
- The Ad stacker
- Pre-populate with pre-orders
- Use AMS for reviews
- Use Amazon’s Bid+ system
- Use negative keywords
- Target your own book
Stay put, don’t give up. When others zig, just zag 🙂
Why advertise books on Amazon?
Advertising books on Amazon (using ads), called “Advertising Console” inside Amazon’s portal, is a collection of effective tools to help vendors drive traffic to their products and sell more.
For authors, this means using ads can be a hub for increasing low book sales and maintaining a steady income with their books.
Advertising Books on Amazon Made Easy
I get it, click bids have gotten more expensive, finding profitable keywords is more difficult and winning is harder than ever. But this is only a byproduct of the space getting more crowded.
However, let me assure you: those CPC prices are nowhere near what our friends in the physical product markets are paying.
Strange as it may seem, AMS is still a happy place for authors.
The key is to get more creative, thinking out of the box. Find new ways of using AMS, test and tweak, and you’ll be way ahead of the (still relatively small) competition.
Here are 20 ways in which you can use Amazon Marketing Services Ads for your book marketing ventures. Each tactic is coupled with a brief explanation of how to implement it in a practical way.
Enjoy the list and remember: now is the time for Amazon advertising!
#1 – Target a famous author in your genre
You’ll do this in order to try to get into his or her also-boughts. You know, the little section in this screenshot that shows you what other people who bought an item have also bought ↓
It’s no secret that ‘also-boughts’ are the main source Amazon uses when they recommend new books to readers. And if your book is in one of your competitor’s ‘also-boughts’, then there’s a good chance it will get shown, recommended and ‘pushed’ to the exact audience you’re after.
Try bidding heavily on one of your competitors as a target so that your book shows up everywhere on their book’s page and ‘steals the show’ in your reader’s eyes.
#2 – Target books published by Amazon
Amazon has various imprints through which it publishes books, the most famous being Thomas & Mercer.
Targeting authors and books by these subsidiary companies is a great idea. Amazon (and their algorithm) love when people buy their stuff, which they continuously promote left and right.
Try to get your book next to one of Amazon’s own babies, and you’ll be a happy writer indeed.
#3 – Target books that are featured on BookBub
Once a book is featured in BookBub’s daily email (aka their ‘Featured Deals’), it’s likely to get thousands of downloads and a load of traffic on all the retailers.
Which of course means more eyeballs on the said book.
By keeping an eye on the books that appear daily on BookBub’s email blast and targeting them with your Amazon ads, you’ll be the first to place your book next to the day’s hottest title, thus piggybacking on its visibility and – hopefully – sales.
#4 – Target books that have recently been turned into movies
A hot new release (just as explained in point 3) is always going to garner bigger attention, at least for a few days.
Keep an eye on new movie releases in your genre, especially big blockbuster films that have been inspired by bestselling books. Again, the trick here is to target those hot new titles so that your book shows next to them, thus collecting some love from all those hungry readers.
#5 – Use Product Display Ads to target paperbacks
Amazon’s Product Display ads give you a unique chance to specifically target paperback versions of your competitor’s titles (unlike Sponsored Product ads). The first benefit of doing this is that you’ll undoubtedly broaden the reach of your ads.
But most important perk is that you’ll also likely increase the sales of your own paperback copies.
As it were, ‘physical book lovers’ have a preference for physical books, which are more expensive and thus will likely result in higher royalties for you to pocket!
#6 – Use Product Display Amazon Ads to target audiobooks
See point 5 above, but this time use PD ads to target audiobooks!
Don’t have an audiobook version of your title? You’re definitely missing out on one of the hottest and fastest-growing trends in the indie publishing industry.
You can find a step-by-step guide on creating an audiobook right here.
#7 – Lose money on the first book in your series
Your first in the series is likely to be free on Amazon (or at least it should be). But don’t fret, pure ROI seekers!
Sure, by going a bit ‘heavier’ on Amazon ads pointing to that book, you’ll likely lose money. But you’ll make it back when readers go on to purchase book 2, 3, 4, etc. in your series. Make sure you have a good idea of how to calculate your audience’s ‘read-through rates’, and adjust your CPC bid and daily budget accordingly.
#8 – Lose money (again) to grow your email list
Be sure to display an opt-in form in the free book you’re running ads on (pro tip: also place it in the first pages of the book, so that readers don’t have to ‘wait’ until they’ve read the whole thing before parting with their email address).
This will inevitably result in more signups to your email list. Again, this isn’t stellar for pure ROI, and you might be losing money now, but in the long term, this will be super-beneficial.
#9 – Advertise Your Backlist
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (aka, don’t point all your ads and spend all your budget on one book).
Running Amazon ads for other titles in your backlist is always beneficial in keeping the books ‘sticky’ in the rankings, often also providing a load of read-throughs to the other titles in the same series (see point 7).
#10 – The Greatest Hits method
Start your ads by bidding low-ish on keywords and competing authors/book-titles.
Once you have a good idea of what is actually performing well, take those successful phrases and compile them in a ‘Greatest Hits’ ad, with higher CPC bids and daily budget.
#11 – The Amazon Ad Puzzle
Try using your own book as a target keyword, but this time to advertise your higher-priced titles or box sets.
The ‘Sponsored’ results on the latter’s book page will likely populate with all your other titles, just like the pieces of a puzzle.
If a reader lands on your one book and sees your other stuff in the Amazon ads, they might buy a higher-priced title in your collection (and go on to become an aficionado fan of yours)!
#12 – The Ad Stacker
Don’t limit yourself to Amazon Marketing Services ads. Ad ‘stacking’ is often the best way to get a gazillion eyeballs on a new release (especially if you’re aiming at hitting bestsellers’ lists when running a hard launch).
Try your hands at BookBub ads, Facebook Ads, and others. You don’t need to spend thousands on them: a small budget will be more than enough to Discover where your readers are hanging out, so that you can place your books right under their eyes.
#13 – Pre-populate with pre-orders!
Start running AMS ads well in advance, even when your book is still in the pre-order phase. If you get your targeting right, this will help add your book to the ‘also-boughts’ of other books in your genre, thus igniting the sacred ‘recommendation loop’ from Amazon.
You can do this one week to a few months in advance. The bigger your author platform is, the longer you can get away with putting your book up for pre-order before the actual publication date.
Plus, people will be exposed to your book, will pre-order it, and when the book is live, the instant truckload of downloads will shoot it into the stratosphere!
#14 – Use AMS for reviews
Spend a bit more on AMS during a free promo you have scheduled.
This might sound counterintuitive when it comes to pure ROI, but you’ll be amazed at the number of downloads you’ll get. Be sure to add a ‘call for reviews’ to the end of your book.
Some readers won’t, but many will actually leave an honest (and verified) review.
#15 – Bid+
With their recent ‘upgrade’ of the Amazon Marketing Services platform, Amazon has given authors the chance to use their ‘Bid+’ system (an old acquaintance of those using Vendor’s Accounts).
This new feature basically lets Amazon know you’re willing to spend up to 50% more on CPC for the terms that are performing well. It’s really simple to use, as you can see in the example below so don’t be afraid to use this!
Think about it: if Amazon has given us this new tool, why not take advantage of it?
You definitely won’t go broke (the daily budget still being the highest cap on spend): rather, you’ll likely outbid all of your competitors on your most prized keywords and phrases!
#16 – Use negative keywords
As you surely know by now, hyper-relevant laser-focused targeting is the name of the game with AMS, but sometimes, this is much easier said than done.
Have an epic fantasy novel that appeals to teens, but that YA readers would absolutely hate? Don’t risk getting one-star reviews by unsatisfied vampire-hungry audiences.
Another new feature that Amazon has just implemented into their new AMS platform is the ‘negative keywords’ field.
Use it wisely to list all of the keywords you absolutely DO NOT want to associate your ads to through Amazon Marketing Services.
The sniper approach has never been easier.
#17 – Target your own book
Why on earth would you want to spend money targeting your own book? After all, it already shows up ‘organically’ in the search results for your key terms, no?
Well, not exactly.
Amazon is putting a lot of emphasis on advertising (another reason why you should use AMS ads), so it sometimes favors paid results over organic – something other platforms (e.g. Facebook) have been doing for a while now.
Crazy, right? Try punching one of your keywords in the search box and see if your book appears. It doesn’t?
Then you might want to give it a nice little push with a couple super-targeted ads.
Bonus: 3 more advanced Amazon Marketing Services tactics
If you’re really ready to make some money, you can try to tackle some of these more advanced Amazon Marketing Services methods to increase your book sales.
These might be tricky for you at first, but with enough practice, they’ll prove to be more than effective.
#18 – Use a Vendor’s Account (part 1)
Use this incredibly powerful tool to advertise your physical or audio copies on relevant pages by your target authors.
As seen above (point 5), this will often result in sales of your own audios and paperbacks, yielding a lot more royalties!
#19 – Use a Vendor’s Account (part 2)
A Vendor’s Express account through Amazon Marketing Services will also let you advertise titles that you didn’t publish yourself.
Why would you want to do that, you say? For multi-author box sets you’re a part of, for example! This will bring more eyeballs to your stuff and… don’t forget to include an email-optin in your portion of the text!
#20 – Use a Vendor’s Account (part 3)
As seen above, why not use a Vendor’s Account to also promote a traditionally-published book you wrote before going indie? Your publisher will likely not be using AMS, so show them who the savvy author is and get some sales rolling!
Hope you enjoyed some of these tactics for Amazon Marketing Services ads. As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, don’t listen to those who want to attract you to the ‘next best thing’.
Think out of the box, test, test, and test again. And you will succeed!
This is a guest post by Brian Berni, a Self-Publishing School alumnus, now bestselling author under multiple pen-names. He blogs for writers and self-publishers at AuthorsTech and is the co-founder of BookAds, an agency that helps authors advertise their books through AMS and BookBub Ads.