Author Topic: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.  (Read 2418 times)  

Offline erikhanberg

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Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
« on: June 04, 2015, 09:52:41 am »
Over the years for my day job, I figure I've managed more than $20,000 of pay per click (PPC) ads on Google and Facebook for clients. I *think* I've gotten pretty good at it.

So testing PPC for my own books seemed like a worthwhile experiment.

Here's why I think I might have a chance at making this work:

  • The book is about fundraising for nonprofits, which means I should have pretty easy targeting to other books on Amazon.
  • The book has a high price point at $9.99/Kindle, plus it's out in paperback and audiobook. So there's a good chance to make some real money if I do get clicks.
  • There are three other books I've written for small nonprofits, one on social media and one on of boards. So a successful purchase that gets a customer into my ecosystem gives me the chance at two more sales, also each at $9.99

Here are the cons:
  • PPC advertising takes awhile to get right. I will need to experiment, so some of the first $100 won't be well spent. That's assuming it CAN be viable.
  • I had to put my book in KDP Select, which I wasn't crazy about. It has made sales on other platforms, although just a handful. I also don't know how much the borrows will affect my chance at real sales.

I thought I would keep folks here in the loop on how this experiment goes. I know it won't affect a lot of you with fiction, but hopefully the data should be revealing.

Here's my starting criteria:

  • I'm targeting 22 books about fundraising and nonprofit management. I would have chosen to target by genre, but I can't drill down to the same level of the list I can when I select my category (Nonprofits and Charities) and anything higher than that will be too broad. This might be too small, but we'll see.
  • My maximum bid is $0.75/click. This is higher than the average they recommended. My goal is to test the viability of PPC, so driving people to the page is more important (initially) than figuring out the sweet spot for ads. If people buy, I'll start gradually reducing the average price I pay per click.
  • Budget is $100, and I told Amazon to spend it as fast as possible. This is the opposite of most budgets I run for PPC where I spread it out over a month. The benefit (I figure) is that if it *does* work, spending it at fast as possible will have the side benefit of driving me up the charts. Again, we'll see.

I was approved today. According to Amazon it will take 2 to 3 days for full data to begin.

Previous sales:

Last month I sold 11 Kindle copies of the book, 21 paperbacks on Amazon, and 19 audiobooks.

So far this month, I've sold 3 Kindle copies, 1 paperback, and 2 audiobooks. It will take at least 15 new Kindle sales to break even on the $100 (not counting any additional sales of the other two books over time, which really should be counted, but that's harder to measure at this point).

So there we are. Let the games begin!

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    Offline thewitt

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #1 on: June 04, 2015, 09:59:49 am »
    You might want to check out Mark Dawson's free videos on Facebook ads if you have not already done so.  He's killing it on Facebook.

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    Offline ArchangelEST

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #2 on: June 04, 2015, 10:12:06 am »
    I think that with Amazon it's not as much of an issue with click costs, but click through rate. Which is absolutely horrible as far as I've heard.

    Even if you get your ads to stay visible 24/7, that $100 might still last you a few months, lol.  ;D

    But it's been a while since I looked into this, maybe things have gotten better. Will be keeping an eye on this thread.  8)
    James H. Mayfield |  | Amazon Author |

    Offline dragontucker

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #3 on: June 04, 2015, 10:49:42 am »
    I bet there are some authors that are secretly doing well with amazon ads.

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #4 on: June 04, 2015, 11:31:15 am »
    @thewitt, thank you! I'll download his videos and check them out!

    @ArchangelEST. That's what I'm wondering too. They seem to have more place books are displaying than at first. We'll see. But CTR on Google or Facebook is minuscule too. They just have huge audiences to make up for it. We'll see if Amazon does.

    @dragontucker I can definitely imagine that's the case. I won't keep it secret, though! ;) If it works, I'd love to share it with KBoards after all the useful tips and ideas I've gotten here.

    Offline Philip Gibson

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #5 on: June 04, 2015, 11:37:35 am »
    Please do keep us informed as you continue to experiment and make changes.

    You're just doing this on Amazon, right?

    Philip

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    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #6 on: June 04, 2015, 11:52:49 am »
    Philip, yes this is just the Amazon PPC system. It's available only to books in Select.

    I took screenshots of the 5 different places they show ads may appear:











    The bottom image is the most appealing placement to me, but I think the idea is that it shows up on all of them if I win the auction against other potential ads.

    Offline BlueGen

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #7 on: June 04, 2015, 11:58:38 am »
    Bookmarked this!

    I will be very keen to hear your results. Thanks for sharing your stuff with us.

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #8 on: June 24, 2015, 01:38:27 pm »
    Here's my three week update:



    It's pretty disappointing. Those two "sales" were during my five day free promo. In fact, most of the clicks were during that time as well.

    My impressions were only in the hundreds for the first week. It took awhile for them to start building as high as this.

    I'm considering changing my targeting strategy: a wider net in order to grab more clicks. Tweaking the headline might help, I suppose. I haven't given up yet, but certainly not impressed.

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #9 on: July 17, 2015, 04:45:09 pm »
    My current sales tab.



    I'm testing the "interest" sales option right now because it allows me to advertise on Kindle screens. The downside of this: I can't target any more narrowly than "business and money: industries." That means a lot of people are seeing it who are not my target audience.

    But the book is clearly for nonprofits so I figure that anyone who clicked was viable. But maybe not given these numbers.

    I might do another targeted campaign to see how that goes. (This one was canceled when my book was kicked out of Select because a retailer hadn't pulled it down even four weeks later.)

    Offline Northern pen

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #10 on: July 17, 2015, 06:15:38 pm »
    Now do a $100 google ads campaign.

    Then a $100 Facebook ads campaign.   :P :P be our sacraficial lamb to the knowledge gods

    Offline Christine Tate

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #11 on: August 02, 2015, 05:28:16 am »
    I'm running my own test of Amazon's PPC right now.  It will run for 1 month (8/1/15-8/31/15).  I chose the ad by related products option with a $100 budget and .45 bid which is the low range of their suggested price bids.  I chose 5 books on marriage by Joyce Meyers and Kay Arthur for placement reference for my Group Hug Marriage book.  Let the games begin!

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    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #12 on: August 02, 2015, 07:18:54 pm »
    Thanks for sharing, Christine!

    I'll use that as an excuse to update where I am again.



    Just to explain this graph, starting from the bottom up (the oldest campaigns to the newest).

    The first test was a product campaign. I selected 22 book similar to "The Little Book of Gold" which is about fundraising for small nonprofits. Some signs that there was profit there, although not much. (That book is $9.99.)

    But I paused the campaign to try the "interest" campaign. That's the next one up on the list. This is the campaign that allows your book to show up on Kindles themselves. Which was very exciting! But I can't get any more targeted than "industries" which covers finance as well as nonprofits. Lots of impressions. A couple sales. But not nearly enough to justify the campaign.

    Then I decided to try another interest campaign, this time for the box set of my mysteries. I figured: why not target mysteries to mysteries. Should be much more effective than the badly targeted work on The Little Book of Gold interest campaign." The first attempt was turned down because I called out the hundreds of positive reviews the series has gotten (across all three books). It couldn't be easily verified by the reader (which, I guess, I get.)

    So I reworked the headline and tried again.

    Right now it's not showing a profit, although the "total sales" doesn't seem to count KU pages read, and those have spiked:



    First spike is a few weeks ago, second spike totally aligns with me starting the ad. It tanked this weekend. Don't know what caused that. But I'm definitely watching this one. Also, this ad has shown pretty high click through rates versus the others.

    .9% CTR for the top campaign
    .08% for the poorly targeted interest campaign for The Little Book of Likes
    .1% for the first campaign.

    Also, if Amazon's sales are true,

    here are the conversion from clicks to buys:

    8.3% on the top campaign
    2.1% for the poorly targeted interest campaign for The Little Book of Likes
    6.4% for the first campaign

    But, again, KU reads don't seem to be factored in, which is one reason why I'm intrigued by the most recent campaign: best performing CTR, best performing conversion, plus pages read.

    I'll be further testing this but I like what I see!

    Offline Christine Tate

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #13 on: August 03, 2015, 03:41:23 am »
    Thanks for the update.  I also think it's important to consider the goal of any campaign.  Marketing and sales are not the same thing, although marketing can lead to sales.  From a marketing perspective (not sales perspective), you've had a cumulative total of about 156,000 impressions where your book has been flashed before potential buyers.  Not too shabby.

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    Offline DGS

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #14 on: August 03, 2015, 03:50:34 am »
    I hope you crack it.. good luck

    Offline Chinmoy Mukherjee

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #15 on: August 03, 2015, 06:22:28 am »
    I gave up on amazon ad, on average we need 20 clicks to sell a book, there is noway we can recover cost of advertisement.
    Since my ebooks are priced at $2.99.

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #16 on: August 10, 2015, 10:13:29 am »
    A quick update for anyone still following along.

    I spent $100 on a campaign for my bundled mystery book. It ended with a poor return: something like $20 in sales for $100 spent.

    BUT. Since the ad ran out, it has added several more impressions/page views AND sales. In fact, it now estimates sales at $62.91. And I'm seeing purchases of the book on my KDP dashboard. So it is selling.

    The ad ran out of budget, so I don't exactly know how to explain this. Delayed reporting? People who downloaded the sample and decided to purchase later?

    I'm trying another identical ad for the bundle but with a much lower cost per click. We'll see if that leads to a better ROI. But I'll still be watching the closed ad to see if it gets closer to a break even over time.

    Offline erikhanberg

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #17 on: September 09, 2015, 11:58:47 am »
    So...

    I ended up spending more than $100.

    But at this point, I just can't unlock the secret of Amazon ads.

    In August I paid $185.56 for ads for my bundle of three books in the mystery series. My revenue for the month, I estimate at ... $190.19. So $4.63 profit for a month of spending. Big money.

    The ads don't show that they performed as well as that, actually. Both show they lost money, but from what I can tell, my sales were higher (probably thanks to movement of the books on the lists due to the ads).

    August had 24 sales and 14,693 pages read for the book.

    September so far (with no ads running) has no sales and 1307 pages read. Even with WAY less revenue, that's a better per day rate than I was getting.

    I kept feeling like I was close to cracking this, but I never got there. More pages in the book (ie, a bigger bundle) would likely produce higher return. But I'm not not even sure of that.

    I may keep experimenting at some point but for now, I think I am pretty well done with this attempt. Onward!

    Offline DGS

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #18 on: September 10, 2015, 01:57:04 pm »
    go to facebook. it works.

    Offline vrabinec

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #19 on: September 10, 2015, 02:19:59 pm »
    Wow, that's weird. I ran one for two days before I terminated the thing because I wasn't happy with the cover. At the time I terminated, I had 2700 +- impressions, 17 clicks and 0 sales. I just went back and looked, and now it says I have 9133 impressions, 52 clicks, and 1 sale. Total cost, $9.60 at $.18 per click. I guess there's a delayed reaction? Weird. Probably won't run it again. 1 click per 175 impressions is meaningless. 1 sale per 52 clicks is telling as far as ROI. 

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    Offline Vergence

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #20 on: September 10, 2015, 02:57:04 pm »
    I put my experiences on my blog.

    http://www.mikebode.com/a-short-guide-to-amazons-pay-per-click-advertising-for-kdp/

    I made a little profit... sort of. It doesn't count borrows as sales so it's hard to measure but I had a lot of pages read in August. Those dropped to nothing this month so I think the ads helped.
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    Offline MajesticMonkey

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #21 on: September 10, 2015, 04:10:00 pm »
    I have heard literally no reports of anyone being successful with Amazon PPC for Kindle and really boosting their sales. I was wondering if there where any changes in that of late. I have been seeing the ads pop up more frequently now. Seems like a ton of people are using them.

    Offline Becca Fanning

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    Re: Testing out $100 on Amazon's PPC ads. Will report.
    « Reply #22 on: September 10, 2015, 04:23:38 pm »
    I have heard literally no reports of anyone being successful with Amazon PPC for Kindle and really boosting their sales. I was wondering if there where any changes in that of late. I have been seeing the ads pop up more frequently now. Seems like a ton of people are using them.

    I'd guess people with novel sized works now have a much lower threshold for profitability under KU2. Or people with shorter works who are going to try anything to get their sales back up. But I concur with your data: Amazon ads are consistently terrible ROI.

    Becca Fanning

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