Author Topic: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?  (Read 2068 times)  

Offline Rick Charles

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Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
« on: December 13, 2019, 05:46:54 am »
Anyone else notice if Amazon's Sales Ranking has suddenly changed? Has Amazon introduced a change to the algorithm?
So last week (dec 4) I promoted my book and got about 50 sales and an amazon sales rank of 2,550 - great.
This Wednesday (Dec 11) I did a similar promotion on my other book, and got 120 sales BUT my sales ranking was only 9,598 -what!
The sales ranking also took a lot longer to update than usual. Often I see my sales rank shoot up by the day; but now it takes some 12-14 hours.
What is going on? :o

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    Offline barryem

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #1 on: December 13, 2019, 06:49:51 am »
    I wonder if Amazon is selling more books during the holiday season and if that might account for it.  They also might be selling more holiday themed books.

    I don't know much about Amazon's ranking system.  I'm just guessing.

    Barry

    Offline Rick Charles

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 07:04:38 am »
    Thanks Barry for the suggestion, but that's not it. Ive run some more tests and data from other authors and while its logical that book sales might go up as we approach Christmas, it would not factor in such a dramatic difference in the Sales Ranking. Another author I communicate with shows that one of his books sold 200 times which normally gets him a sales rank of about 550, but yesterday only registered a rank of 1,857 - hat's a huge difference!

    Offline AmesburyArcher

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 10:29:25 am »
    Funny you should mention this. I ran a promo yesterday and had reasonable sales but it hardly seemed to move the rank.
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    Offline Amanda M. Lee

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #4 on: December 13, 2019, 10:36:55 am »
    It's just behind. I had new releases Tuesday but the rank was trailing more than 24 hours behind. It did eventually get to where it should've been but it was very late.

    Amanda M. Lee

    Offline Lynn McNamee

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #5 on: December 14, 2019, 05:49:37 am »
    We did a free run with ads.

    From what I can tell, the rankings are almost 2 days behind.

    It's very odd.

    And it's also annoying because I'm trying to judge the ROI from some Facebook ads, but I can't without the ranking, since the ROI relies on KU borrows.  >:(

    Offline Rick Charles

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #6 on: December 14, 2019, 07:04:08 am »
    Thanks for your comments - some of you have experienced the same issue and some concluded that "it's just late or behind".
    Given that I have now run promotions over the last 3 days, I don't think this is just a blip - each day I have the same results:
    1) it takes over 13 hours for the ranking to be updated after the  purchase time (as confirmed by authors who helped me out testing this).
    2) The ranking is far lower than usual. Where I use to get ranks of approx 1,200, I now get 10,400 - which is way off the mark!

    I hope this is a temporary problem. If not, Amazon has seriously changed its algorithm.
    Some feedback (not substantiated) is that Amazon is favoring traditional publishers over indie authors based on a quick analyse of the Best Seller ebook in about 3 different categories. Let's hope this is just not the case.

    Offline Dopabeane

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #7 on: December 14, 2019, 01:41:38 pm »
    I've been noticing this all week. I ran a free promo for a horror novella on December 10, and got 1800 downloads in about 20 hours. Yet the book's rank was literally in the millions until the afternoon of 12/12, when it updated my rank to 105 despite maybe 85 downloads that day. And, even though it's back to not being free anymore, it's still showing a rank of about 700 in the Free Store.

    I also launched a horror anthology trilogy yesterday. Everything's selling. But Volume I, which is heavily discounted, is doing pretty well. It got around 50 sales the first day, and over 100 sales so far today. But the rank is almost 13k =/ I'm pretty bummed out. I should probably just be grateful that such a niche project is selling, though. In any case, here's hoping it all shakes out nicely.

    Offline kswalker

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #8 on: December 14, 2019, 02:08:35 pm »
    I stopped looking at the rankings because it was seriously lagged and not helping me. One time when I looked, it seemed as if the Free and Paid rankings were even combined into one. I don't understand what's going on. Some of my ranks are not changing at all when the books sell and some books are jumping up in the rankings without any apparent sales (might be KU borrows but it seems like a very large jump and it's not followed by any page reads).

    I feel bad for people who are running promos and not getting their usual results.
     
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    Offline lea_owens

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #9 on: December 14, 2019, 10:05:28 pm »
    The reporting seems to have a big lag at present. According to my reporting page, none of my books have sold in the last three days (and I usually only have 4 - 10 sales overall a day, anyway - tiny little minnow in a big, big pond), but five of them are in the top 100k atm, so there must have been sales since a few of those had been out past the 200k mark. There's no jump in KU page reads to explain the ranking jumps - just sitting steady in that 2k - 3k range. So, I'm guessing that there have been sales that are yet to be reported.

    Leanne Owens

    Offline Rick Charles

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #10 on: December 15, 2019, 02:03:42 am »
    Thank you all for your replies. I agree with much of what has been expressed, namely that one has to feel bad for fellow authors like ourselves who are running promotions and not getting their usual results. The good news is that in all the promotions I have run this week, as of yesterday (Dec 14) the sales ranking seems to have returned close to normal, with the expected sales rank matching the sales I am getting. So I hope this little crisis is over. If I see otherwise, I'll let you know. But for those who might be interested in recent changes in the Amazon algorithm; it seems to now favor:
    - two day promotions rather than one day or a weekly promotion
    - about 50% of your sales on day one, will factor into your sales ranking the next day. Example: if I sold 50 books on a Monday, and 100 on a Tuesday, Amazon's algorithm will count it as approx 125 sales at the end of the Tuesday
    - Amazon  now  seriously  degrades  your  Amazon  Sales  Rank  the moment  your book witches from a free to a paid book. The post free book period when your paid Amazon Sales Rank could still be reasonably high, as you book converted from free to a paid  book, is all but useless now. 

    Offline Flying Pizza Pie

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #11 on: December 15, 2019, 08:17:59 am »
    Things do fall behind from time to time. I picked-up eight reviews yesterday on a book that hadn't had a new review in weeks. It happens.


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    Offline SidK

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #12 on: December 15, 2019, 09:56:00 am »
    The reporting seems to have a big lag at present. According to my reporting page, none of my books have sold in the last three days (and I usually only have 4 - 10 sales overall a day, anyway - tiny little minnow in a big, big pond), but five of them are in the top 100k atm, so there must have been sales since a few of those had been out past the 200k mark. There's no jump in KU page reads to explain the ranking jumps - just sitting steady in that 2k - 3k range. So, I'm guessing that there have been sales that are yet to be reported.

    I am in the same boat :-[

    Something strange is going on at Amazon, maybe server overload due to flood of holiday shopping caused by many physical retailers closing and low unemployment?

    I had 104 AMS Ad clicks over the last 3 - 4 days for my new release and not a single sale or page read !!!  And this in a book that is in a far more popular genre(Mystery/Thrillers) compared to my Space Opera novels where I usually pick up 1 sale or 1 read through for 5 - 10 clicks. Only one sale that I see in my reports is a pre-order from many days ago. What is also frozen is 'Customers who viewed this item also viewed' with only two books from whoever placed the pre-order. It is as if none of the 104 Ad clickers had any viewing history.

    Strangely, I also have sales rankings in UK and Australia stores but no sales reported from there and no page reads from anywhere.

    I hope it gets corrected soon because my promos start tomorrow. :-X  I have emailed Amazon and awaiting their reply. Maybe you should contact them too. The more authors who report, earlier they will realize it's some system issue. 
    « Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 10:03:34 am by SidK »

    Offline claycasey

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #13 on: December 15, 2019, 05:04:25 pm »
    Thanks Barry for the suggestion, but that's not it. Ive run some more tests and data from other authors and while its logical that book sales might go up as we approach Christmas, it would not factor in such a dramatic difference in the Sales Ranking. Another author I communicate with shows that one of his books sold 200 times which normally gets him a sales rank of about 550, but yesterday only registered a rank of 1,857 - hat's a huge difference!

    So it's definitely Christmas. It's gift giving season. So indie ebooks may not see the effect, but a lot of other types of books do. We sell 5x as many books in December as we do in October. And if you follow it each year, you can tell which types of books do better during the holidays. Look at how many kids books are in the top 100 paperbacks right now.

    And the sales rank changes that much. A BSR of 3,000 in October and 3,000 on December 13th, are going to be for a very different amount of books sold. Looking at my numbers, it's a least double the amount sold for the same BSR in December.

    Offline AlecHutson

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #14 on: December 15, 2019, 06:07:53 pm »
    Things do fall behind from time to time. I picked-up eight reviews yesterday on a book that hadn't had a new review in weeks. It happens.

    I think those were likely the reviews from other Amazon stores being added to the store page you were looking at. A few days ago Amazon made it so you could see all (or most) of the reviews of your book everywhere. In my American store, one of my books gained 20 reviews; in the UK store it gained 200 (which is still less than if all the American reviews were imported. So maybe something else is going on as well.)

    Alec Hutson

    Offline Rick Charles

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #15 on: December 16, 2019, 05:08:07 pm »
    I can confirm that as of Dec 15th, the Amazon Sales Ranking seems to be back to normal.
    Note: this was not a case of high book sales leading up to Christmas messing up the usual results. The fact that I'm now getting the usual Amazon Sales Ranking as before (on Dec 14) when I sell 50 of my books in one day is testimony to this. This was clearly a glitch on the side of Amazon that lasted some 3 days  (Dec 11 to Dec 13) but now resolved. Let's hope it does not happen again! Thanks for all who shared their thoughts and experiences on this.

    Offline SidK

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #16 on: December 16, 2019, 06:27:35 pm »
    I can confirm that as of Dec 15th, the Amazon Sales Ranking seems to be back to normal.
    Note: this was not a case of high book sales leading up to Christmas messing up the usual results. The fact that I'm now getting the usual Amazon Sales Ranking as before (on Dec 14) when I sell 50 of my books in one day is testimony to this. This was clearly a glitch on the side of Amazon that lasted some 3 days  (Dec 11 to Dec 13) but now resolved. Let's hope it does not happen again! Thanks for all who shared their thoughts and experiences on this.

    Looks like it to me too and I am starting to see sales from my promos starting today unlike what I saw from the Ads. Unfortunately for me, I had put a good amount of Ad Dollars over Dec 12th to Dec 15th for my launch.  :(

    Sales and Rankings appear to be getting back to normal fast, but Page Reads and foreign store sales are still stuck. I have sales in double digits but no pages reads. Makes sense they would prioritize work on servers hosting Sales infrastructure first.

    By the way, what is the normal rank for 50 sales in one day?

    Offline Rick Charles

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #17 on: December 18, 2019, 01:56:16 am »
    I spoke too soon. Yesterday (Dec 17) the Amazon Sales Ranking went hay-wire again. So :
    - Amazon Ranking took over 14 hours to update (could be explained by busy period of sales as we approach Christmas)
    - Sales Ranking is far lower than usual once more - way off again (cannot be explained by busy period leading to sales, given history of last 2 weeks).

    So be careful out there if running promotions, especially paid promotions through ads or third parties. Your sales results might be OK, but not your Sales Ranking - which in turn affects anyone trying to reach the Amazon Best Seller charts, and Hot New Releases.

    Offline Vinny OHare

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    Re: Amazon Sales Ranking has gone crazy - change in their algorithm?
    « Reply #18 on: December 18, 2019, 07:13:52 am »
    I see it sometimes as 24-48 hours behind. We get emails from authors saying their author rank hasn't moved during our promos. I have a standard email I send back that explains it. It must be a massive job for Amazon to to this on the fly. Can't imagine the computer power

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