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Author Topic: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting  (Read 2251 times)  

Offline P.T. Phronk

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Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« on: September 13, 2017, 05:49:18 AM »
I saw in another writing forum that many authors who use AMS ads are getting refunds, due to bad reporting of sales (and thus average cost of sale). Many are getting a few bucks, but some big spenders are getting thousands of dollars back.

From what I understand, nobody was actually overcharged in the past. The reporting was just inaccurate, and may have led to bad decisions.

Me? I haven't gotten anything, despite using AMS for the past few months. Has anyone else who uses AMS gotten this letter, or more importantly (for my sanity) NOT gotten this letter?

Offline Darius Brasher

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 06:05:33 AM »
I got an email from AMS indicating one of my ads reported sales that did not actually occur. So my sales report was adjusted, and I got a $5 credit on top of that. I'll try to not spend it all in one place.

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 06:36:30 AM »
I got a $25 credit, but I only used a small portion of the initial $100 I put on there. I will probably go back now and use that up and see where it leads.


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Offline Andrei

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 06:40:43 AM »
Got an email about a refund as well.

Hopefully I can somehow use that $ to promote my new book, which is available on Amazon but via Pronoun, not KDP. Have to check, it's been 8-9 months since I've used their interface. If not, I'll just keep the amount in question for the time being and use it later on.

Offline Michael Eli Vineberg

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 08:11:56 AM »
I got an email with a refund. They over-reported sales and the percentages were off as a result. It's embarrassing for them and they are right in offering these refunds even though no royalties or expenses were badly reported.

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Offline Accord64

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 08:13:31 AM »
I didn't get anything but a rock.



Interesting reason for the refund. I always thought it was because they either over-reported click activity or found botted clicks.
 

Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 10:28:16 AM »
I don't think it's a refund, because the amount I was credited was more than I think I'd spent on PD ads recently. (I spend a lot, just not on that particular ad type.)

Here's the wording for those that didn't get it:
"We recently discovered a discrepancy in the estimated total sales attributed to your interest-targeted Product Display Ad campaigns with Kindle E-reader placement. This issue may have resulted in over-reported Estimated Total Sales, also impacting the Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS) calculation. This reporting error did not affect your royalties or your billing, which is based solely on clicks.

As of today, your reports have been corrected and you should now see the adjusted numbers in your campaign dashboard.  We apologize for the inconvenience and have applied a click credit of $X to your AMS account."

It's a pretty specific ad type and placement that seems to have had the issue.


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Offline lincolnjcole

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 10:35:00 AM »
I don't think it's a refund, because the amount I was credited was more than I think I'd spent on PD ads recently. (I spend a lot, just not on that particular ad type.)

Here's the wording for those that didn't get it:
"We recently discovered a discrepancy in the estimated total sales attributed to your interest-targeted Product Display Ad campaigns with Kindle E-reader placement. This issue may have resulted in over-reported Estimated Total Sales, also impacting the Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS) calculation. This reporting error did not affect your royalties or your billing, which is based solely on clicks.

As of today, your reports have been corrected and you should now see the adjusted numbers in your campaign dashboard.  We apologize for the inconvenience and have applied a click credit of $X to your AMS account."

It's a pretty specific ad type and placement that seems to have had the issue.

Yeah, this is similar to my experience. I haven't used AMS in a good while and I got a pretty sizable amount back, so I don't think its based on what you spent, but more on the ad type you used and how much you were affected. I think what people said a while back was that if people clicked your ad, then clicked an 'also bought' and bought it, it was crediting to YOUR ad so it made your results look really high.

It was a nice surprise. They give you a year to use it up, so I'm going to have to run some more ads now to make sure I don't waste it!

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 11:22:28 AM »
I got the email and was gifted $100. 3D box set images can't be shown on a kindle ereader, so the error could only have applied for a few single books I was advertising last year. I never used product ads much anyway.

Unfortunately, they credited my old account so I can't use the $100. It was a nice enough offer, but useless.

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 12:15:00 PM »
Hmm. I've never used product sponsored ads. So, I haven't seen the email with the refund. Must be for that ad type only.  :( Bummer.
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Offline Paul Mathews

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 02:01:54 AM »
I also received one of these emails yesterday. Amazon gave me an ad credit and subsequently amended all my sales stats. I downloaded the new spreadsheet to compare with the previous, overstated figure. It turns out my AMS sales were being overstated by around 36%. For a heavy AMS user like myself, that is very significant. It changed my overall ROI from 58% to 79%. (As I'm in KU, this is still an overall profit once estimated borrows from ads are factored in. But the ads are no longer hitting the magic 66% ROI and so are not paying for themselves.)

There were a whole clutch of campaigns I had kept running at significant cost that I would have shut down long before they ended. As a result, the credit I received was substantial - equivalent to about three months AMS spend for me - which is a reasonable settlement. However, there was no explanation of how Amazon calculated this figure, which would have been helpful.

All the data I've lovingly collated on my various campaigns' effectiveness will now have to be recalculated, too. It basically wasn't worth the spreadsheet it was written on. <SIGH>

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 02:22:06 AM »
We also got the $5.00 credit.

Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2017, 06:07:26 AM »
I also received one of these emails yesterday. Amazon gave me an ad credit and subsequently amended all my sales stats. I downloaded the new spreadsheet to compare with the previous, overstated figure. It turns out my AMS sales were being overstated by around 36%. For a heavy AMS user like myself, that is very significant. It changed my overall ROI from 58% to 79%. (As I'm in KU, this is still an overall profit once estimated borrows from ads are factored in. But the ads are no longer hitting the magic 66% ROI and so are not paying for themselves.)

There were a whole clutch of campaigns I had kept running at significant cost that I would have shut down long before they ended. As a result, the credit I received was substantial - equivalent to about three months AMS spend for me - which is a reasonable settlement. However, there was no explanation of how Amazon calculated this figure, which would have been helpful.

All the data I've lovingly collated on my various campaigns' effectiveness will now have to be recalculated, too. It basically wasn't worth the spreadsheet it was written on. <SIGH>

ROI is Return on Investment which should've dropped if they took away sales credited to your ads. It's calculated as (Gain-Cost)/Cost. Do you mean your ACoS number shifted that direction?

My refund was only about 5% of my last month's ad spend, so they must've based it off of some percent of product display ad spend only. I don't use those often because of the list price of my books.


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2017, 06:21:54 AM »
ROI is Return on Investment which should've dropped if they took away sales credited to your ads. It's calculated as (Gain-Cost)/Cost. Do you mean your ACoS number shifted that direction?

My refund was only about 5% of my last month's ad spend, so they must've based it off of some percent of product display ad spend only. I don't use those often because of the list price of my books.

I don't think the issue is related to recent ads. The account they credited for me is one that's been inactive since the start of 2017. I also haven't used product ads that showed on an ereader since September 2016.

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2017, 06:53:30 AM »
I didn't get it. I first used Product Display Ads in June 2016 so perhaps it pertains to ads earlier than that, or maybe Product Display Ads running between around Nov last year and July this year when I wasn't doing any of those kind.

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2017, 07:26:37 AM »
I didn't get it. I first used Product Display Ads in June 2016 so perhaps it pertains to ads earlier than that, or maybe Product Display Ads running between around Nov last year and July this year when I wasn't doing any of those kind.
It may also be that whatever the issue was didn't affect everyone. In any case, it's nice to see Amazon doing something like this. It's too bad every problem doesn't get resolved that way, but it's interesting it would happen on a problem most of us weren't even aware of.


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2017, 07:33:28 AM »
...it's interesting it would happen on a problem most of us weren't even aware of.

AMS isn't exactly transparent, or easy to keep track of. And Product Display ads are even more opaque than Sponsored ads.

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2017, 07:40:30 AM »
It may also be that whatever the issue was didn't affect everyone. In any case, it's nice to see Amazon doing something like this. It's too bad every problem doesn't get resolved that way, but it's interesting it would happen on a problem most of us weren't even aware of.

Although I don't think AMS ads are as effective as they once were that isn't a reflection on the integrity of the ad team. Back when it was first launched, there was an error in where the ads showed. They couldn't have ignored it, but they refunded the people affected by their mistake.

I'm not at all surprised they've done the same thing again.

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2017, 07:45:13 AM »
I think the amount refunded relates only to the amount of spend on AMS. I earned nothing on AMS, but invested $100 prepaid and got refunded a large proportion of that ($88, I think) when I discontinued it because it was pants. Ergo, the $25 can only be 1) a proportion of my initial AMS investment and b) an incentive to go back in an reinvest again.  I get better offers from Google to do their Adwords and I still refuse them too.

I wonder if Amazon will just give me the $25?


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Offline Paul Mathews

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2017, 07:48:35 AM »
ROI is Return on Investment which should've dropped if they took away sales credited to your ads. It's calculated as (Gain-Cost)/Cost. Do you mean your ACoS number shifted that direction?

My refund was only about 5% of my last month's ad spend, so they must've based it off of some percent of product display ad spend only. I don't use those often because of the list price of my books.

Yes, sorry. Average cost of sales (ACoS) is what I meant - the percentage that shows up on the AMS ads dashboard.

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Offline Paul Mathews

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2017, 08:04:24 AM »
I don't think the issue is related to recent ads. The account they credited for me is one that's been inactive since the start of 2017. I also haven't used product ads that showed on an ereader since September 2016.

I've checked and the problem definitely affects recent product display ads - sales data for some of my campaigns that were started THIS MONTH have been revised downwards. I use product ads exclusively, so all my data relates to affected ads.

Some of the changes are marked. My highest-spending campaign, which I kept running for 8 months, thinking it was bubbling along quite nicely below 100% ACoS was actually almost 150% in reality. That's a major foul-up. I've spent hard cash on ineffective campaigns. I don't get any of that cash back. Just a credit. I'm grateful for it, but it's obviously been offered before we can start asking for actual refunds.

It comes off the back of another billing issue from a few months back, where I was being overcharged for clicks and got another substantial amount knocked off my bills. I hope this is the end of the major problems.

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2017, 08:14:19 AM »
I got one and I can't even remember using AMS.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2017, 08:27:11 AM »
I've checked and the problem definitely affects recent product display ads - sales data for some of my campaigns that were started THIS MONTH have been revised downwards. I use product ads exclusively, so all my data relates to affected ads.

Some of the changes are marked. My highest-spending campaign, which I kept running for 8 months, thinking it was bubbling along quite nicely below 100% ACoS was actually almost 150% in reality. That's a major foul-up. I've spent hard cash on ineffective campaigns. I don't get any of that cash back. Just a credit. I'm grateful for it, but it's obviously been offered before we can start asking for actual refunds.

It comes off the back of another billing issue from a few months back, where I was being overcharged for clicks and got another substantial amount knocked off my bills. I hope this is the end of the major problems.

Then it must be a problem that was running for a long period because I haven't used product ads since January 2017, and those ads didn't show on a kindle ereader.

As for ACoS, I never used it to decide whether a campaign was worth continuing or not. I don't measure ROI that way, nor do I assess campaigns on the results of a single ad. I paid little attention to the ACoS other than to note there was one.

The impact of whatever this error was will have varied by advertiser. My evaluation methods indicated the product ads were not being effective so I ditched them ages ago. There are ways to make them more effective, but, tbh, it was a lot more work and there were better and easier ads to use.

Offline Michael Eli Vineberg

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2017, 08:40:11 AM »
I've checked and the problem definitely affects recent product display ads - sales data for some of my campaigns that were started THIS MONTH have been revised downwards. I use product ads exclusively, so all my data relates to affected ads.

Some of the changes are marked. My highest-spending campaign, which I kept running for 8 months, thinking it was bubbling along quite nicely below 100% ACoS was actually almost 150% in reality. That's a major foul-up. I've spent hard cash on ineffective campaigns. I don't get any of that cash back. Just a credit. I'm grateful for it, but it's obviously been offered before we can start asking for actual refunds.

It comes off the back of another billing issue from a few months back, where I was being overcharged for clicks and got another substantial amount knocked off my bills. I hope this is the end of the major problems.

This is precisely why they are offering generous payments. Surely they are using a formula to evaluate how much they screwed people and how upset people will be. Lovely. I have always noted that the vast majority of occasions when I am given incorrect change at an establishment, it isn't in my favor. Make what you will of this. Amazon was making a very inexcusable mistake that benefitted them economically. For whatever reason, they have come clean about it (speculate as you see fit as to why). Now they are paying even more in many cases. I suspect that it originates from the fear of repercussions which could cost them even more. My payment isn't even close to the expense value of the ads affected but is a multiple of the discrepancy in sales reported. 
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 08:43:17 AM by Michael Eli Vineberg »

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Offline Paul Mathews

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Re: Amazon issuing AMS refunds due to bad reporting
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2017, 09:03:31 AM »
This is precisely why they are offering generous payments. Surely they are using a formula to evaluate how much they screwed people and how upset people will be. Lovely. I have always noted that the vast majority of occasions when I am given incorrect change at an establishment, it isn't in my favor. Make what you will of this. Amazon was making a very inexcusable mistake that benefitted them economically. For whatever reason, they have come clean about it (speculate as you see fit as to why). Now they are paying even more in many cases. I suspect that it originates from the fear of repercussions which could cost them even more. My payment isn't even close to the expense value of the ads affected but is a multiple of the discrepancy in sales reported.

Amazon HAD to come clean because, as soon as they knew the data was incorrect, they had a duty to report amended data on the dashboard. If they did it without telling us directly, people like me - who download the sales spreadsheet every day and tot up the ad spend and sales - would spot the big drop in estimated sales immediately and query it. The big question is ...HOW LONG have they known about it?

Another interesting point is that, overnight, this makes the whole AMS system less effective as a marketing tool than it was perceived to be. If, as a result of this error, advertisers drop out after their credits have been used, it might (that's a big 'might') force the average bid price down. Or, at least, stop it rising so rapidly. We shall see...
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 09:05:07 AM by Paul Mathews »

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