Author Topic: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.  (Read 3933 times)  

Offline lea_owens

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In the several days, my sales and KU reads have come to a screeching halt. I'm not big time to start with, 3,000 - 5,000 page reads most days, 2 - 5 sales each day, but it's been consistent for months, except for an unusual drop over the weekend End Game/ Game of Thrones started up. The AMS ad system had a few changes recently, where you could click on options to increase your top bids by 50% or even 100% to get them into the top spots. I tried it for a bit, but it meant my AMS costs maxed the $6 a day per book budget within hours each day without increasing sales, so I went back to the original settings a week ago. In the last two days, I haven't even made 1,000 page reads a day, and I just checked out my targeting on the AMS campaigns.

Yowsers. Even horse books like 'Monty Roberts The Man Who Listens to Horses' was a suggested bid of about 75c a few weeks back (and my bid was 45c, so it wasn't going to score me sales, anyway), right now it comes up as $10.37 'suggested bid', with a range up to $15.99.
'The Kiss Thief' has a suggested range up to $13.57 per bid.
'The Ragged Edge of Night' has a suggested range up to $16.86 per bid.
Nearly everything that used to be in the 20c - 50c bid range is now 40c - $1.50.

If that is the case on other people's AMS ads, then who is paying those bids? You can't possibly make any money when a single click costs you more than the book is worth, and you might have casual lookers clicking away on links for a look at your book with no intention of buying. Unless they have really expensive books and nearly every click equals a sale, they have to be losing money. Clearly, people are clicking my ads enough to use up the daily budget most days, but lately there have been no click-through sales, the sales are coming from non-AMS ads.

A few weeks ago, virtually all my bids were within the suggested range of the c.500 words/phrases/titles that I had, with a top price of 50c per bid, but most of my bids were budgeted to 25c.  Almost every word or search term has skyrocketed in the 'suggested range'. I'm spending most/all of my $6 per day per book for those that I advertise because bids are all at the top, but there are virtually no click-through sales.

A quick look at one book shows that in the past five days, the ads cost $26.74 for no click-through sales (it had some sales from other advertising, but not from the AMS clicks). The same book with less target words (I add to them each month) in six other five day periods (same days of the week to make it consistent) through this year, always had less cost than this past 5 days, and always had more sales than the AMS cost (sales ranged from $30 up past $60 for this one book in the five day periods).

The recent changes are making AMS ads totally unsustainable for a small time writer like myself - it was fine while spending the money resulted in sales, but the bids prices are beyond me, and spending money for no sales is not smart. The AMS site suggests I increase my daily budget to $15 per book...  it's already at the point where Amazon gets all the money any of my books make, I don't want to have to be working a job to pay Amazon for not selling my books.

I'm hoping it's just a hiccup, but wonder if others have checked their target words/phrases to see if they notice a big increase in suggested bid prices.

Leanne Owens

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    Offline azebra

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    I see those bid suggestions too. I don't believe them. I figure anyone bidding that high has a lower daily budget than me. I make lower bids and have a relatively high daily budget. I figure the high bidders can battle it out at 8am and spend thier budget and I'll take the rest of the day on my low bids with the rest of us willing to share real estate. The info they give us on placement is interesting. You still get sales from being placed off the front page.


    Online Jena H

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    Yeah, the suggested bids are a joke.  A year or two ago I added "Easter" as a keyword to my ad, in case parents wanted to get my book for their kids for easter.  As of today, the suggested bid for Easter is $.71.  Who's going to do any searching for Easter at this time of year??

    BTW, I notice the "info" for suggested bid says "You can choose to use the suggested bid, or any bid in or outside of the bid range."  I wonder if bids outside the bid range (i.e., lower than the bid range suggestion) get penalized in any way, maybe don't get run as often as they should.  I don't know how long the bid range has been around, but the efficacy of my ad (and thus the keywords) has been dead for the past few weeks.
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    Offline azebra

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    I wonder if the range is calculated from all over amazon rather than my little niche because I certainly get my lower bids served.


    Offline C. Gold

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    Yep, this spike happened recently out of the blue. I suspect it has to do with the new bid options, like up and down, which I had tried, but turned off because it's not feasible to earn anything when a single click costs more than a dollar.

    Offline Douglas Milewski

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    I've already run into ads that chew up money but don't spit out reads or sales.

    Disclaimer: I sell horribly. Set your filters accordingly.

    Offline jb1111

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    I don't do ads, of course, but from reading all of what I've seen here lately -- from authors who use them -- is that it seems to be turning in to a financier's game.

    Online Decon

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    I guess the only way it could work now is to substantially increase retail prices. Mine were 3.99 and were profitable to some degree via AMS until a month ago. I cancelled all my ads a few weeks ago to reassess.

    Seriously considering a price increase of upto 5.99 to be able to compete with bids if that's what it takes.

    The way it is now, I'm guessing many will drop out like I have done.
    « Last Edit: May 13, 2019, 08:54:04 am by Decon »


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    Offline C. Gockel

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    But you don't pay the suggested price, you pay based on how many people look at your ad and click. I have a .50 keyword that I bid on and pay .19 on it.

    The trick is to bid on books/authors/themes that are relevant to your books.


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    Offline lea_owens

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    I'm spending a few hours today to go through all the bids - if I had a 35c bid, it rarely cost me 35c in the past, sometimes only a few cents if no one else was going for the same search term - but lots appear to be maxing out with the AMS bid system changes, which chews through the daily budget really quickly, and I'm not prepared to increase the daily budget when there are so many clicks 'just to have a look' without any intention to buy. I read on a fb author group the other day where lots of authors admitted to clicking on the sponsored links of books just to see the rankings of those books, and they hadn't given a thought to how much their curiosity was costing those authors - one said she could easily click on 30 or 40 books just to see their rankings, page length, etc... so, each session she did that, she could be making $20, $40, or even more, for Amazon with clicks that were never going to bring sales to those authors.

    I'll give it another week, and reassess - with most sales coming from non-AMS ads, they were great while click-through sales were more than the cost of the ads, but the money will be better spent elsewhere when the cost of AMS ads outstrips any click-through sales. To get sales, you have to 'be seen' - AMS ads were one of the ways to be seen, but their current changes may have removed them as a viable promotion system. I think my very specific, targeted-audience Facebook ad is responsible for almost all sales of one book, with no click-through AMS sales this past week, so I might turn off AMS ads and put the money into more of those.

    Leanne Owens

    Offline azebra

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #10 on: May 14, 2019, 11:43:42 pm »
    Just to be clear - there are still plenty of affordable clicks out there. Don't be sucked into the suggested bids.


    Offline lea_owens

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #11 on: May 15, 2019, 02:17:58 am »
    I turned off a campaign for one book that hadn't delivered any results in days because my cheap bids were just too far below the 'suggested bids', but there's no way I'm increasing my bid price. Obviously, some authors or publishing companies have deep pockets and they're driving the price up. I went through the others and lowered all my bids to 25c, and then scoured Amazon for more titles and authors that might lead a reader to mine, and loaded another 100 search terms at the 25c bid. 

    I made up a couple of FB ads for the book with the paused AMS campaign, targeted to a really specific audience (people who like horses), and 24 hours after the AMS ads were turned off and the fb ads started, there've been 5 sales. I'll let that run for a few weeks - I have the daily budget at only $3 for each fb campaign (and 2 campaigns for the one book - so $6 a day). Then I'll swap back just to compare. It's a bit of a mug's game when my stable of adult books is only two - I need to concentrate on getting another four or five books out and not worry too much about ads and rankings in these early stages of these two books.

    Leanne Owens

    Offline Indy_Author

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #12 on: May 15, 2019, 05:05:25 am »
    I don't do ads, of course, but from reading all of what I've seen here lately -- from authors who use them -- is that it seems to be turning in to a financier's game.
    Do you mind sharing what you are doing to sell books?

    Offline CaptnAndy

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #13 on: May 15, 2019, 02:20:16 pm »
    I had 1 AMS add running and the impressions stopped on May 1st, and when I reviewed the suggested bids they had gone up at least $0.50 from what they were. After I raised most of my keyword bids, I started getting impressions and much more expensive clicks. When I burn through this $100.00 add commitment, I'll be switching to other, more affordable add options. With this wide-spread AMS extortion, Amazon may kill the AMS add revinue goose.
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    Offline lea_owens

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #14 on: May 15, 2019, 02:59:39 pm »
    I had 1 AMS add running and the impressions stopped on May 1st, and when I reviewed the suggested bids they had gone up at least $0.50 from what they were. After I raised most of my keyword bids, I started getting impressions and much more expensive clicks. When I burn through this $100.00 add commitment, I'll be switching to other, more affordable add options. With this wide-spread AMS extortion, Amazon may kill the AMS add revinue goose.

    I'm glad it's not just me who has noticed a change. If we were only paying for clicks that led to sales, that would be fine, or even clicks from customers who are not authors. With so many millions of authors, I'm fairly sure most clicks are from other authors who have no intention of buying, they are just checking out books in their genre or in a genre in which they'd like to write, getting blurb ideas, looking at rankings, etc. I hate the fact that I'm paying Amazon for all those clicks that were never going to lead to a sale, but if I want my books to be 'seen', and if I want to have that option of genuine customers clicking on the book and buying it, I'm locked into paying for all those clicks from other authors. Ah well...I think lots of authors will look closely at their AMS results this month and make changes, I know I dropped one campaign already, and lowered the bids in others (rather than increase them 'as suggested'), and I'm looking harder at other options.

    Leanne Owens

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #15 on: May 15, 2019, 07:25:32 pm »
    Do you mind sharing what you are doing to sell books?

    I turn out a book a month and that keeps my sales percolating enough to keep me satisfied.


    Offline lea_owens

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #16 on: May 16, 2019, 06:26:29 pm »
    I suspended my main AMS ads a few days ago and put that money into two targeted Facebook ads. The AMS ad hadn't delivered a sale in four days, and had dropped from a regular (albeit tiny) 2 - 5 sales a day to 1 or 2 in the week before that. They did have lots of clicks, but they may well be from any of the millions of authors checking out other books rather than from potential readers. I've had 18 sales in less than three days with the fb ads. Of course, the AMS ads also deliver KU reads, which the fb ads tend not to, but the KU reads had dropped by 75% in the past week, anyway (from about 4,000 a day to a bit over a 1,000).

    All I can say is that whatever Amazon did with changing their AMS ads, it has really disadvantaged small time sellers like myself, and I'm pausing most of my campaigns and spending the advertising money where there are results. I would imagine many others will follow if their results are anything like mine. I don't know if it has much of an effect on the big sellers - my sales only ever really covered my AMS ads, anyway... so, I wrote a book, edited, paid for an editor, paid for a cover, uploaded it to Amazon, kept it exclusive, and any money I made from that book went to back Amazon, so I guess I was just giving up a lot of time and effort to help Amazon make money. I keep hoping that I'd one day cross the threshold of 'proceeds exceeding expenses', but I figured that would be a few more books down the track yet.

    Leanne Owens

    Offline Kenneth Rosenberg

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #17 on: May 16, 2019, 09:38:54 pm »
    I'm in the same boat.  My AMS ads just stopped working for me.  I had one in particular that was doing quite well until about three weeks ago and then it just went underwater.  Several others were also losing money.  I threw in the towel and went back to FB ads.  With those, I'd tried and failed several years ago, but in the last few weeks since I went back to them I seem to be coming out slightly ahead.  I plan to slowly scale up my budget and see how it goes.  As for the UK, I created separate ads that target exclusively to them.

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    Offline jb1111

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #18 on: May 17, 2019, 03:15:28 am »
    I wonder if increased competition in ads is affecting indie publishing in the same way increased competition in the number of books and authors is doing it?

    After all, Amazon has only so much ad space -- a screen is a screen, and if it's Kindle or smartphone, the screen is even smaller.

    Online MMSN

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #19 on: May 17, 2019, 04:06:51 am »
    For every fifty dollars worth of books I sell with Amazon ads, I pocket about four or five dollars, Amazon gets the rest.

    And from what I'm hearing from other prawnie authors, this might actually be good!

    Sure isn't like it used to be, pre-2018.

    Offline A past poster

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #20 on: May 17, 2019, 01:27:47 pm »
    I'm spending a few hours today to go through all the bids -
    I stopped AMS ads months ago. They were taking up way too much time, and the return wasn't worth the time invested. It was like working for pennies to spend hours going over bids. Also, one of my books had a suspicious result on a Product Interest ad. Amazon eventually acknowledged that there was a mistake, but the battle was long and the result simply wasn't worth it.

    Offline rchapman1

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #21 on: May 17, 2019, 10:57:14 pm »
    There's no doubt the cost went up over the last two weeks.   I happened to look at the suggested costs a week into my ad and they had trebled.  In the report it shows the cost of the book sold - not the amount we receive! 

    I'm still waiting to be paid on my Createspace books.  Anyone else been told that the money 'hasn't come across"?

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    Offline NanSweet

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #22 on: May 19, 2019, 06:39:38 am »
    I'm suspicious of letting the supplier of ads 'set the price'.  Basically, it's giving an auctioneer control of everyone's bids.  "Hey, if you're close to this guys' bid, I'll just bump your bid up in this silent auction so that you can beat him out on the first page".   So what happens to the person who legitimately bid that amount?  It's a cunning way to take people's money, I guess.  I use AMS ads, but I do my own bidding. 

    One suggestion: If you're doing permafree or a lead-in book, take the total number of downloads for the last year and divide that by the dollar amount earned in sales for that same time frame. That's how many downloads it takes to make a dollar. Then take that $1.00 and divide it by the number of downloads just calculated.  That will give you the most on a pay per click that you should pay if you want to break even.

    If someone could check my math... :D

    For me to break even, my ads need to be a few pennies per click...

    « Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 06:42:52 am by NanSweet »

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    Offline Rae B. Lake

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #23 on: May 23, 2019, 01:55:49 pm »
    OMG

    Thank you all so much! I was confusing myself so much with AMS this past week, I thought I had to at least match the suggested bid in order for me to make any sales. Now that I see that I don't have to I will be running over to my ads page and dropping some of those bids. I have spent way too much this past month for not that many sales. I am so glad I saw this thread!

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    Offline travelinged

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    Re: The 'suggested bid' on AMS ads seems to have gone through the roof.
    « Reply #24 on: May 23, 2019, 02:29:47 pm »
    I'm another victim of whatever happened. One ad was chugging along nicely, then the costs went up and sales went down! I had several bids that got me on a first page that were costing around .20 a click, but I had the bid set higher, and suddenly the CPC was tripling and sales plummeting. When I looked at sponsored ads for those books, the big publishers had definitely moved in. My budget being slightly smaller than James Patterson's, I bowed politely and abandoned the playing field. I suspect that for the time being, AMS advertising is off the table for me.


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