Why my Amazon Ad Tanked #WriterWednesday #BookMarketing #AmWriting

Why Amazon Ad Tanked 2I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a while, but it isn’t easy admitting you’ve utterly and completely failed at something. Writing a blog post about a failure, however, forces me to analyze what exactly I did wrong instead of purposefully forgetting that I’m a failure (which I fail at anyway. Pun intended.) Hopefully, someone can learn from my mistakes as well. Okay then! Time to pull up my big girl panties and get on with the humiliation. It’s not like anyone can see my bright-red, embarrassed face right now anyway.

Let’s start with the facts. I started a product display ad for Searching for Gertrude in March. (For more information regarding Amazon ads and the types of ads, you can read my blog here.) I think I must have been having a complete brain block as I recently re-read my blog articles and noticed that I conclude that a product display ad for Fat Girl Begone! wasn’t worth it. (You can read about that here.)

Here’s how the ad for Searching for Gertrude looked:

Naturally, I thought it looked pretty spiffy. But how did the ad actually do? Here are the stats (And yes, you may feel sorry for me. I sure do):

Why Amazon Ad Tanked 1

As you can see, I actually ended up terminating the ad, because it was performing abysmally. But, why? Or better yet, WHY???? At first, I thought my cost-per-click bid (CPC) was too low. So, I raised it to ABOVE the average bid price. That’s when I got the whole two impressions.

Why Amazon Ad Tanked 6

After I raised the CPC and only received two impressions, I gave up and cancelled the ad. Then, I promptly shoved the entire experience in a corner of my mind I couldn’t easily access (because that’s what adults do, right?). Over a month later, I found myself at the London Book Fair listening to a variety of lectures on how to sell and/or market books. I realized that I couldn’t sell more books unless I figured out what I had been doing wrong. Darn it! Guess it’s time to figure out where that Amazon ad went wrong.

Amazon ads offers authors the opportunity to target potential readers by product or interest.

When you read the descriptions, it sounds like interest-based targeting is a better bet as it yields more impressions. But the choice of interests in interest-based targeting is limited to these HUGE categories. As you can see from the picture below, ‘interests’ are really just the various genres of books.

Why Amazon Ad Tanked 9

I, however, was charmed by the idea of ‘yielding more impressions’ and, thus, I chose interest and, more specifically, historical romance. Now, I’d love to think that every single person who reads historical romance would love Searching for Gertrude. But I’m wrong. That’s just not true. (*Pouts for five minutes*) In fact, one of the things I kept hearing at the London Book Fair was: Who is your reader? You need to target your reader.

Based upon the results of this ad as well as my previous product display ad for Fat Girl Begone!, choosing a broad category for an Amazon ad is not the way to go. Using these broad categories, is the very definition of NOT targeting your reader. Product display ads are displayed on book pages and having my novel appear next to a book that was merely in the same broad category as mine didn’t yield high results. Instead, I should have concentrated on authors and/or books that are similar to the novel I was advertising.

So, my next project is to find an historical romance novel similar to Searching for Gertrude and use that book to target the audience who will see the ad. Fingers crossed.

What about you? Have you successfully used product display ads?

28 thoughts on “Why my Amazon Ad Tanked #WriterWednesday #BookMarketing #AmWriting

  1. Lucy Brazier says:

    Not a failure at all, you have just discovered another way of how not to do something… and now you have shared it with us all, thereby preventing us making the same mistake (hopefully!) So, actually, this is a big win, in a round about way 🙂 Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. MG WELLS says:

    Great post. Amazon does not care about indie authors and is deleting valid reviews too. Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bojkovski Pavle says:

    Greetings from your non-resident nerd.

    Let me start off by giving you some free insight – I came across your post on Linkedin around noon – middleaged office workers will tend to follow links like that around lunchtime 🙂

    I understand that Amazon is limited in its targeting options but do you have any form of demographic info on your existing buyers. If you dig into their gender, education etc. you should be able to do far more useful targeting, especially if you look at all the other social platforms out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      Hiya! I will definitely remember to post on LinkedIn around noon from now on. Great hint! Anyway, Amazon doesn’t have these demographic options. Facebook does, however, and that’s why many authors swear by Facebook instead of Amazon.


      • Bojkovski Pavle says:

        Linkedin also offers demographic options. But before advertising, try to find out who makes up your current market base. If you don’t have the raw data, create it: run sweepstakes for existing buyers, look at who shows up at your reading etc. When you have that data in hand you can then start figuring out how to reach them. I mean, why not use Insta or Snapchat? Why not run Whatsapp groups?

        At the end of the day, as an indie author you’re not just an author but also a publisher, marketeer, etc. etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. MG WELLS says:

    Unless we can find another way to get our books out to the world, Amazon owns the market + Goodreads + Whole Foods + Most likely a lot of corps. we do not know about. A lot of folks want to leave and do not know where to go. We are living in strange times. Blessings and best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      Strange times indeed. On the one hand, it’s great that platforms like Amazon and social media make it possible for indie authors to exist. On the other hand, they are tying our hands behind our backs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. MG WELLS says:

    It seems they just want a take of our sales and to sell kindles, which are made in China. I have received emails from folks outside of USA where I live that my review were taken down and vice-versa. Amazon hires clueless REPs too. Most times when I questioned their idiot review policy, they said they were sorry and blah..blah…blah. People paid for these books and have a right to review on any of the Amazon sites. Since amazon owns GOODREADS, it will most likely be best to just review there and on one’s blog.


    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      Amazon Customer Service? Huh? What’s that? They are horrible in replying with anything other than a nonsensical response. I’ve complained about reviews that were obviously not of my book (wrong author name, wrong characters names) and NOTHING.


  6. amjusticewrites says:

    I haven’t had a lot of success with product display ads. They can take a VERY long time to turn on. Some people say 5 weeks; I’ve found if they turn on at all, it’s usually a few days from the end of their designated run. I have been running sponsored product ads instead, and you can choose manual targeting and put in your own list of key words–most experienced authors recommend a list of at least 200 up to 1000 key words (1000–I know! sounds like an impossible number of unique key words). KDP Rocket, which helps you quickly generate keyword lists, is worth the investment in my opinion. I also found Brian Week’s Amazon Ads book to be very helpful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      Thanks for the ideas. I’ve read a lot about using key words. I find 1,000 excessive. It sounds like those people who use hashtags that don’t match with their content (hate that!) I have had success with sponsored product ads but I’m always trying something new.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Chuck says:

    I have never tried display ads, but do use sponsored ads. With one of my books, I get a terrific response and my click to sale ratio stays below 20%. While my other gets a good response, but little sales so my click to sale ratio is closer to 50%. There are those ‘experts’ that will tell you they can figure out Amazon’s algorithms and of course for a price will share that information (snake oil salesmen – avoid). Amazon has it figured out for their best interest and we indie authors don’t have a chance unless… Unless magic happens. In my opinion, there is one way to succeed and that is exposure. Exposure by any means that will work for you. There is no one particular method that works. By whatever means you can get your name and book out there and obtain sales, then that is the method you should use. I’m using a combination of several methods and one book sells while the other doesn’t. Go figure.
    BTW, good post and thank you for exposing your failed attempt for us to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

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