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Author Topic: Free Rank Wonkiness - SECOND Charting for Oct - Page 4, Post 99  (Read 9359 times)  

Online PhoenixS

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Free Rank Wonkiness - SECOND Charting for Oct - Page 4, Post 99
« on: September 28, 2016, 12:22:22 PM »
Need moar data!

Sooo, it's beginning to look like a long-lasting glitch or a MAJOR algo change in the freebie ranks hit on Sept 15.

Let's figure out which! I'm collecting data from a pool of 150 freebie owners today, although not everyone there qualifies to play or will choose to play. You can help add to the collective IF your book meets the following criteria:

A) It's on Select free promo right now
OR
B) It's a permafree on promo right now

AND (applies to BOTH A and B)

C) It has MORE sales today than it did yesterday.

Got that? (A or B) + C

We need to be consistent to get an accurate picture of what's going on. If we're watching rank, that means we need books that are gaining to get to that rank, not just passing through it as they fall or maintaining it because of bloated history.

If your title meets the requirement, here's what I would love for you to do:

* In the US morning after about 5am and before 10am CT (6-11am ET, 3-8am PT), jot down the book's rank on .com.

* Check your Sales Graph and see how many downloads you had today (Wednesday) ONLY on the .com site. That's very important to restrict it to .com.

* Record the stats here (or PM me):

- Your book's ASIN* (in case I have questions, so I can check the Tracker tool or the product page, etc) - I won't share the ASIN directly beyond this forum or the PM. You can also provide downloads and rank here without the ASIN to maintain your anonymity. If it fits the data curve, I'll love to include it. If it doesn't fit, and I can't verify what and why, I'll have to ignore it.

- # of downloads on .com only
- Current rank on .com
- Select of Permafree


Quote
Example:

B008THBM5S
277 DLs
#1,740
Select

Let's see how tomorrow goes and we'll probably do it on Friday morning too. A book can play just once on either day or on both days, providing it continues to meet eligibility requirements.

I'll post out a chart (without the ASINs) when we're all done, compare it to what life was like pre-Sept 15, and together we'll see if we can make sense of it.

Oh, and if you're in the SPRT FB group, too, please just post here OR there.

Thank you!
« Last Edit: October 23, 2016, 03:32:28 PM by PhoenixS »

Offline LindsayBuroker

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2016, 01:20:59 PM »
* In the US morning after about 5am and before 10am CT (6-11am ET, 3-8am PT), jot down the book's rank on .com.

* Check your Sales Graph and see how many downloads you had today (Wednesday) ONLY on the .com site. That's very important to restrict it to .com.

Just to clarify, we're checking the sales rank tomorrow (Thursday) at (for me) 3-8AM PST? And recording only Wednesday's downloads?

I have a Bookbub on a Select freebie today so should be able to report if I can remember to get on the computer that early. :P

P.S. I would love to hear more about this glitch. What do you suspect? *gazes with rapt curiosity at Phoenix*

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2016, 02:27:01 PM »
Just to clarify, we're checking the sales rank tomorrow (Thursday) at (for me) 3-8AM PST? And recording only Wednesday's downloads?

I have a Bookbub on a Select freebie today so should be able to report if I can remember to get on the computer that early. :P

P.S. I would love to hear more about this glitch. What do you suspect? *gazes with rapt curiosity at Phoenix*

Pfft. :-*

Correct on the procedure., Lindsay. Although BookBub'd books are probably not the best candidates for this. Massive enough downloads are breaking through whatever the issue is. So BB books are still hitting in the Top 10. What is impossible to know when there is that much competition for the top spots is what and where the true hit is.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, we had a BB book on Day 2 of being Select free. On Day 1, the book had 1028 .com downloads. Best rank until the BookBub mail went out was #1594. Obviously this book was affected. It had 32,200 .com DLs on Day 2. It hit a rank of #4. Were the previous 1000 downloads still not being seen by the algo? If they HAD been seen, would the rank have been #3? Well, at that level, it's impossible to know because we don't know the circumstances of Book #2 or #3. Like with the Paid rank, once you're in to the Top 10, it's pretty much a free-for-all. #5 could have 5000 sales, while #4 could have 10,000. Between #20 and 100, the list is MUCH less volatile and much more predictable.

Do share your numbers, because all data is instructive! I just don't think it will be AS instructive in this case.

I only have limited data right now, which is why I need MOAR.

<speculation>
Speculation ONLY, it seems what I'm desperately hoping is a glitch cropped up on Sept 15. It SEEMS to affect only newly promoted titles -- permafrees on promotion and Select titles going free. Permafrees maintaining their rank ranges seem to maybe still be properly inserted into the calculations. Titles that should easily be in the Top 100 or in any rank range, really (other than the Top 20 tier) aren't coming close to where they would have ranked pre-Sept 15.

Great if this were a way to punish scammers and suppress their influence, but the very titles that ARE getting through seem to only be the titles with massive downloads. So this is actually HELPING the scammers who work with bots grab and hold visibility. So either it was an algo change gone bad OR a glitch. But again, I'm working with limited data right now -- 11 titles that I manage, half of which had no promo mention anywhere during their free days so my feeling is that it's not an impact against any one ad site or group of ad sites, and another 11 in a current group promo, all of which experienced the glitch yesterday whether they had ad support or not (the group promo itself begins today).</speculation>

So waiting to add more data points before I call KDP and try to find someone who knows what I'm even talking about to explain the issue to. Or to regroup if this is the new reality. *shudder for anyone unable to hitch a ride on BookBub or the BotMobile.* 

Offline Gator

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2016, 03:27:50 PM »
So this is actually HELPING the scammers who work with bots grab and hold visibility.

And pointing out to Amazon which eBooks are riding the BotMobile (I'm totally stealing this word!) if they also follow certain other patterns.

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2016, 04:04:27 PM »
And pointing out to Amazon which eBooks are riding the BotMobile (I'm totally stealing this word! - :D ) if they also follow certain other patterns.

Ooh, there's a thought. Easy enough to go down the BookBub mail each day to see what should be there at those quantities. Hmmm...

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2016, 03:29:55 AM »
Hi Phoenix, here's one for you:

ASIN: B00M30BF5Y
1117 downloads on Weds on .com only
924 current rank as of 6:30AM
Permafree

Please keep us posted of your findings :)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 04:17:21 AM by Jennifer Lewis »
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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2016, 03:35:31 AM »
6:30 AM Thursday morning, EDT.

ASIN B00GDDAT5E
1403 downloads Wednesday (.com only, this title only)
#715 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
Select

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2016, 03:36:28 AM »
I don't know the time conversions (I'm in Australia), but my Permafree is in the SPRT promo, and it's ranking right now is 814 on .com. I've had 267 downloads yesterday on .com, and 14 today.

It usually moves 10-20 copies a day, but there was a spike of 100 about 3 days ago. ASIN is B011LKBENE.

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2016, 06:38:52 AM »
Hmm, interesting between Jennifer and Rinelle's differences at permafree. Jennifer's is nowhere close to where we would previously have expected rank to be, but Rinelle's is falling within expectations. I was hoping there would be something more clear for us to grab onto. Maybe with more datapoints we can get a better picture.

Our two:
B00HCW0XCO
1044 DLs
#588
Select

B008THBM5S
688 DLs
#1233
Select

Frankly, if this is the new reality, it's a total game-changer for *my* inventory. TOTAL. As in 'the 2012 algo changes that stripped visibility from indie books in Select and knocked them to the back of the bus' type of game-changer.

As in 'while I have been a very happy camper with all our books in Select, if we can't get more visibility than THIS in exchange for exclusivity, then maybe it's time to look at options elsewhere.'

BUT these are preliminary thoughts only. Once we figure out how free rank is even being calculated right now -- because it's still baffling to the few datapoints I have -- there's the deeper dive into how it's being translated off the free charts, especially for free titles going back to paid and being inserted into the poplists.

Once I add this morning's data to my existing, I'll post out what I have so we can all begin trying to find the common patterns.


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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2016, 06:44:04 AM »
Yeah, mine seems really out of sync with the other numbers that are being reported. No idea why.

It does occur to me to wonder if the free downloads are being reported properly?

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2016, 08:27:48 AM »
Yeah, mine seems really out of sync with the other numbers that are being reported. No idea why.

It does occur to me to wonder if the free downloads are being reported properly?

I've seen a couple of other reports of permafrees still fitting the old rank profile. As you say, clueless as to why right now. But we're seeing equally as many permafrees once they're promoted falling into the new profile. Just one of the mysteries we'll be trying to uncover.

As to the issue of proper reporting, I know our promos are returning the expected numbers in the authors' reports on the dashboard. So that all *seems* to be being captured appropriately.

So the question is whether those downloads are being deliberately tweaked differently in the rank algo or whether some of the downloads are being lost in the handoff between the sales report and the algo feed. If we start to see a smooth rank curve emerging from the reports we're gathering, then that would point to a deliberate change. And for that we need more data consistently gathered.

I'm seriously thinking about Gator's suggestion. And if it were what's going on, wondering if Amazon plans this to be a temporary weedout or a permanent extermination firewall. If temporary, for how long? That's an awful lot of promo dollars going down the visibility drain for however long this lasts. And if it's a permanent fix, it's going to make Select Free that much less effective. It'd be a catch-22 for authors. We were only losing maybe 20-30 spots of visibility to scammers each day before. Now we're losing hundreds of spots to whatever's happening with the algos. Amazon's typical scythe and not scalpel approach.

But, for now, *everything* is speculation only.

Offline Jennifer Lewis

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2016, 10:29:39 AM »
My book is quite old, released summer 2014. Could that be a factor? I did only make it permafree this month. It was in Select previously for about a year.
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Offline LindsayBuroker

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2016, 11:47:53 AM »
Pfft. :-*

Correct on the procedure., Lindsay. Although BookBub'd books are probably not the best candidates for this. Massive enough downloads are breaking through whatever the issue is. So BB books are still hitting in the Top 10. What is impossible to know when there is that much competition for the top spots is what and where the true hit is.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, we had a BB book on Day 2 of being Select free. On Day 1, the book had 1028 .com downloads. Best rank until the BookBub mail went out was #1594. Obviously this book was affected. It had 32,200 .com DLs on Day 2. It hit a rank of #4. Were the previous 1000 downloads still not being seen by the algo? If they HAD been seen, would the rank have been #3? Well, at that level, it's impossible to know because we don't know the circumstances of Book #2 or #3. Like with the Paid rank, once you're in to the Top 10, it's pretty much a free-for-all. #5 could have 5000 sales, while #4 could have 10,000. Between #20 and 100, the list is MUCH less volatile and much more predictable.

Do share your numbers, because all data is instructive! I just don't think it will be AS instructive in this case.

Gotcha! I'll keep an eye out when I run promos on the smaller sites.

Here's the BB gorilla:

- Your book's ASIN*

B01FWOW72W

- # of downloads on .com only

25,000

- Current rank on .com

2 at 8am PST this morning

- Select of Permafree

Select

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2016, 12:45:01 PM »
Gotcha! I'll keep an eye out when I run promos on the smaller sites.
...

Thanks, Lindsay! You probably noted that within an hour or so of your rank capture, no fewer than FIVE titles leapfrogged yours into #1-5 Free positions. FIVE titles with zilch promo anywhere for the exceptionally popular permafree (only, you know, not suddenly that exceptionally popular) and the 4 others that are Select that only went free 6 hours before they hit in the Top 5. They're falling in rank now (except the #1 title), although still in the Top 10. Which means there are 6 botted books (IMO) that are now in front of yours on the chart.
_______

Back in a few minutes with the first report-out of what yesterday's ranks:DLs looked like compared to what they would have looked like in early September...

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Re: Do you have a Select freebie or a permafree on promo? Join the data fun!
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2016, 01:38:29 PM »
Here's the first round of reports with 44 data points now. I've excluded the books that had BB runs. The chart on the left has the date of the reported downloads, the number of downloads that day, the actual rank captured after the reporting lag, and what that rank would have/should have been prior to Sept 12, which is now when I have the earliest report of wonkiness.

The top graph on the right (NEW PROFILE) shows the actual rank-to-download numbers. See how it's a very jagged, angry graph in dire need of anti-anxiety meds?

The bottom graph (OLD PROFILE) shows the nice, smooth curve that should be produced by a happy, well-adjusted rank calculation.

____

This is the freebie rank chart I used for the "should be" ranks. I created this version on June 28 based on 102 data points from free runs from Jan 1, 2016 to June 28. It only includes points where free books gained rank, so isn't contaminated with ranks that free books were falling *through* rather than attaining.



I did filter the 44 data points by Select and permafree, and the results for both were pretty much in line with the top chart above.

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2016, 02:08:52 PM »
Phoenix, are you wedded to the 15th September date as the starting point? Because I noticed this effect on a freebie on 10th September. Details, in case they're useful:

ASIN: B01H0TO1Q2
Downloads: 2593
Best free rank: #229
Book in Select, 1st day free.

Whereas a virtually identical promo in July, with 3244 d/l hit a rank of #36
   

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2016, 03:55:17 PM »
Phoenix, are you wedded to the 15th September date as the starting point? Because I noticed this effect on a freebie on 10th September. Details, in case they're useful:

ASIN: B01H0TO1Q2
Downloads: 2593
Best free rank: #229
Book in Select, 1st day free.

Whereas a virtually identical promo in July, with 3244 d/l hit a rank of #36

Not wedded to the 15th at all! It's simply a matter of finding the folk like you who had promos earlier (I had a free run that started on Sept 15 so that was my benchmark date) who kept track and know what a free run should do numbers-wise. In fact, I revised that to the 12th in the post right above yours. I'll now revise to the 10th. And yes, these results are useful and will be included. Thank you! 

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2016, 05:58:23 PM »
This explains something I was wondering about a lot. I don't have hard data to contribute this moment, but I will in a couple days, after Patty's Promo.

I just made my first in series permafree on the 20th, late at night. The next day, with no promo whatsoever, it shot to 167 downloads on .com. My rank never even broke 5,000. At the time I was ecstatic, but there were no follow-up sales, and I now believe that some bot used my book to camouflage their own activities. At any rate, I spiked my own downloads in a BKnights promo on the 26th, got 184 downloads on .com, only made it up to 4k or so this time. According to your chart, I should have hit 1000 at least, but I never even got close. I had no idea what it took to reach those, as I've never done free before.

Today I don't have a promo running, but have more downloads than yesterday. My rank has fallen 500 spots. Promo downloads will probably start tomorrow as a lot of emails go out early (including mine), so I will post my number then. Thanks for spotting this and letting people know. I hope I can help.

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2016, 06:39:08 PM »
I thought the free charts were based purely on downloads, so the higher the number of downloads, the higher you we on the charts. More like the bestseller charts than the pop lists. If so, they're not run on an algorithm, as such. Or they weren't.

Leads me to wonder if they're excluding some kinds of downloads from the count. No idea what though.

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2016, 06:55:54 PM »
I thought the free charts were based purely on downloads, so the higher the number of downloads, the higher you we on the charts. More like the bestseller charts than the pop lists. If so, they're not run on an algorithm, as such. Or they weren't.

Leads me to wonder if they're excluding some kinds of downloads from the count. No idea what though.

Maybe it's another way to cut down on freeloads.


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Offline Aaronhodges

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2016, 07:02:09 PM »
Hmm poop, hope this has been resolved before my promo running at the end of October! Arg 😟

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2016, 07:34:27 PM »
I thought the free charts were based purely on downloads, so the higher the number of downloads, the higher you we on the charts. More like the bestseller charts than the pop lists. If so, they're not run on an algorithm, as such. Or they weren't.

Leads me to wonder if they're excluding some kinds of downloads from the count. No idea what though.

Well, the bestseller lists are algo-driven, in that the calculations include instructions for how to weight history, rate of decay and likely if-then statement in the event of a "tie" in rank, etc.  Free ranks follow(ed) the same types of parameters and instructions. Rank didn't just start over each day.

One thing I noticed with one of my personal books during its Sept 15-19 promo was something that would have been absolutely impossible just a few days before. First, downloads to rank:
484 - #1627
2924 - #323
697 - #855
1307 - #82
376 - #883

On the fourth day, the rank improved with coughs and fits and starts to about where it would be with 1307 DLs + a handful of carryovers from the previous day. That means the algo saw at least that many DLs to count. So the book started Day 5 with a rank of #82 and ended the day with a rank of #883. With a typical half-life daily rate of decay built in, that should have been IMPOSSIBLE for it to have fallen in rank that far and that fast. Even if the algo only saw a grand total of 1400 DLs -- because it did rank the book at #82 -- and somehow dropped the other 4400 DLs, even with zero downloads on Day 5, that rank should have reflected one-half of those 1400 DLs or 700 DLs, which normally would have resulted in a rank around #200.

Had the book continued free with 0 DLs per day, then Day 6 would have been credited with 350 DLs, Day 7 with 175, Day 8 with 88, Day 9 with 44, etc.

With a rank of #883 being about 150 DLs, it shouldn't have hit that rank until sometime in Day 8 -- even with zero downloads on Days 5, 6 and 7. Given a fairly steady ecosystem -- and there's absolutely no indication of it being otherwise -- the math that the bestseller list algo uses, which is likely pretty much the same the freebie list uses, would make the behavior I saw impossible. Not just unlikely, but impossible. Because that isn't how THAT math works.

So there's either a glitch -- servers being stopped and restarted, servers not handing stuff off to other servers to include in algo calculations, something physical and technical happening consistently for at least 3 weeks now -- or there's new math at play that looks nothing like the old math.

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2016, 08:53:11 PM »
Thanks for the explanation Phoenix, that makes more sense.

I'll report on my ranking/downloads again this evening, try to get it around the same time as yesterday. So far I have a slight ranking drop, with slightly less downloads.

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2016, 09:29:45 PM »
I'm not sure if this has anything to do with anything, but I went permafree at the beginning of September. Since then I've run a BK Knights promo and a Freebooksy augmented by a small daily Facebook buy. I'm hovering at ~20 DL per day and around the 3000 - 4000 rank. Thats all fine but my alsoboughts are now populated by these weird yellow-text covers. All different authors with different topics but all using crappy stock photos and all with the same bright yellow for their title and author name. I don't know what's going on, whether its bots or what, but it sure is weird.

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Re: Join the Select free/permafree data pool - 1st round results start post #14
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2016, 10:27:02 PM »
I'm not sure if this has anything to do with anything, but I went permafree at the beginning of September. Since then I've run a BK Knights promo and a Freebooksy augmented by a small daily Facebook buy. I'm hovering at ~20 DL per day and around the 3000 - 4000 rank. Thats all fine but my alsoboughts are now populated by these weird yellow-text covers. All different authors with different topics but all using crappy stock photos and all with the same bright yellow for their title and author name. I don't know what's going on, whether its bots or what, but it sure is weird.

This looks like a scam using Freebooksy promos. Price a book free and then change the price back to paid before the promo is due to be over. Get accidental purchases and rank increase. Lots of these ugly-ass covers with wacky lettering mucking up many people's also-boughts. People have complained about it to Freebooksy, from what I understand. Freebooksy accepts all books without any vetting so you run the risk of getting this kind of scammer.

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