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Author Topic: Number of Sponsored AMS Ads in search results increasing: new or A/B testing?  (Read 780 times)  

Offline PhoenixS

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Just noticing today that Amazon has added TWO Sponsored Ads in the *middle* of search results for searches by author name. That's in addition to the two ads that have been appearing at the top and/or bottom of the search results (I've been seeing either two ads at the bottom or one at the bottom and one at the top).

So now there are FOUR ads out of 20 spots, or 20% ads on the page, with half of those sneaked into the middle. Have I just not been searching on author names recently, or is this new? Is everyone seeing this, or is it being A/B tested to see how many ads they can insert without it being overly disruptive to the the average customer? And will the average customer notice?

Offline Dpock

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I've seen it but not consistently, and for some time now.


Online Lydniz

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I'm getting two in the middle and two at the bottom.

Offline dgaughran

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I've been seeing this for at least a week - two at the top, two in the middle, and two at the end. It's pretty bad, especially considering the sponsored results aren't very clearly marked.

This gives me little confidence that AMS will improve. Instead of building relevancy into the system - which will make customers WANT to click on the ads, they are trying to hoodwink readers into doing so. All very short-term thinking and very non-Amazon... although there has been a lot of that recently. Maybe Amazon really is in the lemon squeezing phase now...
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Online Lydniz

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Instead of building relevancy into the system - which will make customers WANT to click on the ads, they are trying to hoodwink readers into doing so.

But I'd always thought that was what the sponsored ads were specifically designed to do. Why else put them exactly where the alsoboughts used to be?

Offline dgaughran

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Yeah, there's a fine line with this stuff. You want them to be visible, sure, but you also don't want users thinking it's something other than an ad.

There are two models for online advertising - the Yahoo approach of selling visibility to the highest bidder (look how that turned out), and the Google approach of making relevancy a huge factor in which ads get served.

AMS has *some* relevancy built in - at least, it seems that's why some ads get throttled when some keywords have a low CTR - but the system doesn't work. So you get irrelevant ads served up everywhere by whoever has the most money to burn. Which means readers will eventually adopt ad blockers or become blind to the ads, if they aren't already.

Seeing these developments, and hearing that AMS is going to launch a Facebook-like "Audience Network" doesn't give me any hope that they will actually try and improve AMS for advertisers and customers, and are just looking for the short term cash.

A real pity.
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Online Lydniz

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I'm getting a load of irrelevant ads on my product pages on Amazon.co.uk at the moment, because the few who have been given access to the sponsored ads for that site are taking the shock and awe approach (just as happened with the US site initially).

ETA: oh, it seems to have calmed down a bit now, as it looks like another batch of slightly more appropriate people have been given access.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 10:14:20 AM by Lydniz »

Offline Nicholas Erik

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I was noticing four at the bottom on occasion, so I guess they've decided to test out different placements. Amazon really needs to address the lack of relevance before they overtake the organic search results and swap locations with the also-boughts, though. It's baffling how poor the AMS interface is and how 2004-esque the targeting is, given Amazon's resources.

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Offline dgaughran

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It's worse than that, Nick. I was working at AdWords in 2004. It was streets ahead of where AMS is now. And, actually, we get a watered down version of AMS in authorland. On the wider Amazon site they have more sophisticated targeting options - things that have been common in PPC advertising for nearly 20 years, like exact match keywords etc.

A bigger problem, IMO, is the lack of relevancy in the system. If the ads are irrelevant, users won't click and the whole platform becomes unsustainable. Amazon is not addressing this by factoring relevancy into the auction. It appears to be a crude highest bidder auction. Amazon only seems to factor relevancy in by throttling ads which fall below a certain CTR (I'm guessing, no one knows AFAIK).

Which means everyone's ads stop running inexplicably, and everyone just copies new ones. Which means Amazon loses the relevancy history on those ads and keywords as everything starts from scratch again.

It's all such a crappy mess, I could go on and on and on about everything they have done wrong.
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Offline RBN

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Instead of building relevancy into the system - which will make customers WANT to click on the ads, they are trying to hoodwink readers into doing so. All very short-term thinking and very non-Amazon... although there has been a lot of that recently. Maybe Amazon really is in the lemon squeezing phase now...

Amazon gets paid whether it's a good-faith click or a hoodwinked one (or, as far as advertisers know, a fictional one). Their motivation to sell products has been diminished by their success selling ad placement, which renders the vaunted "customer experience" expendable.

Offline MmmmmPie

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I'm seeing this, too.  One ad at the top, one ad at the bottom, plus two in the middle.

As far as my own AMS ads, I'm getting more clicks, but far fewer sales and KU pages read. This suggests the following:
(1) My new ads aren't that terrific. (Entirely possible.)
(2) Readers are clicking around more often as they try to navigate the mess.
(3) A combination of the above.

Either way, the site is a mess. One thing about Amazon, it used to do an amazing job of suggesting books you actually wanted to read. Now, it's just awful. Amazon's focus now appears to be on selling ads, not books.

Offline ADDavies

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It seems odd that they'd do that. Increasing the number of clicks means more money from AMS, sure, but a worse customer experience.

Maybe they're doing that so authors cut down on the number of keywords and forcing authors to make the keywords more relevant? If that's a problem (i'm not sure that it is).
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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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It seems odd that they'd do that. Increasing the number of clicks means more money from AMS, sure, but a worse customer experience.

Also a worse advertiser experience ... which is already not so great thanks to the half-baked reporting we get.


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Offline dgaughran

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Amazon gets paid whether it's a good-faith click or a hoodwinked one (or, as far as advertisers know, a fictional one). Their motivation to sell products has been diminished by their success selling ad placement, which renders the vaunted "customer experience" expendable.

Not sure I agree. Google beat Yahoo because people clicked on its ads more, because they were more relevant. Amazon took that approach and made it its core philosophy - try and show users the products they are most interested in. Obviously any kind of advertising is a step away from that, but building relevancy into the system would make it a half step, rather than a giant leap away which cuts across their core proposition.

At least, that's how Amazon has acted historically, taking the long-term approach of building customer trust over short term easy cash. Plenty of evidence recently to suggest things may have slipped in that regard.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 01:48:32 PM by dgaughran »
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Offline PhoenixS

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Plenty of evidence recently to suggest things may have slipped in that regard.

Slipped? Oh, you Irish and your knack for understatement.

Offline LilyBLily

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Just did a private browsing on a women's fiction author. My own sponsored ad appeared in the middle of her first page, along with one other, and two more at the bottom. Our ads all seemed relevant and in the subgenre, although if I were that author, I'd be annoyed that someone else's ad was running in the middle of the first page listing my books.

Page 2 of that author's listing started with two sponsored ads, one of which used the author's name in the ad blurb and possibly was relevant; the other was not a relevant book, but its author is the same author generation as the author whose page this supposedly is, so probably people who read one read the other. Still a completely different genre.

At the bottom of that page, two wholly irrelevant ads appeared, one using "taboo" in the blurb and the other using "billionaire." Those last are the ones that destroy customer experience, because they are everywhere they do not belong.

When I followed some of the offending interloper ads, I found pages that were even more fractured.

Offline KelliWolfe

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They were not-so-subtly pushing sponsored ads in the AMS survey they just sent out.

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Offline LilyBLily

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I gave them an earful about the Product Display ads that produced nothing, not even impressions.

The problem with their survey was that it never asked WHY we might not advertise with AMS in the future, only whether we thought we would. There was no place to say the ads are getting way too expensive and they aren't being shown on the right pages. I can only hope my women's fiction titles aren't being shown on billionaire taboo sort-of-erotica pages.

Online Cassie Leigh

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They were not-so-subtly pushing sponsored ads in the AMS survey they just sent out.

Which type of ads did you tell them you run? Because I originally said SP only and they asked "why don't you run PD ads?" When I went back and checked the box for both, which I have done, then I had a series of questions about each type that were basically identical.


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Offline Martitalbott

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Just did a private browsing on a women's fiction author. My own sponsored ad appeared in the middle of her first page, along with one other, and two more at the bottom. Our ads all seemed relevant and in the subgenre, although if I were that author, I'd be annoyed that someone else's ad was running in the middle of the first page listing my books.

Page 2 of that author's listing started with two sponsored ads, one of which used the author's name in the ad blurb and possibly was relevant; the other was not a relevant book, but its author is the same author generation as the author whose page this supposedly is, so probably people who read one read the other. Still a completely different genre.

At the bottom of that page, two wholly irrelevant ads appeared, one using "taboo" in the blurb and the other using "billionaire." Those last are the ones that destroy customer experience, because they are everywhere they do not belong.

When I followed some of the offending interloper ads, I found pages that were even more fractured.

Which just proves that 90% of the AMS authors don't understand what they're doing. Amazon encourages us to put author names in the Keywords, but I write both historical romance and contemporary mystery, so when someone adds my name, their books are going to be irrelevant to at least half of my pages.

I'm still seeing only two rows, one above and one below, but they are for different books. There goes the idea that the more we pay for placement the better?
       
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Offline KelliWolfe

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Which type of ads did you tell them you run? Because I originally said SP only and they asked "why don't you run PD ads?" When I went back and checked the box for both, which I have done, then I had a series of questions about each type that were basically identical.
That would explain it, then, because I only run PD ads. <Emily Litella>Never mind!</Emily Litella>

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