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Amazon Advertising—keyword targeting

I have from time to time posted about my experiences selling books (360 Federal Crimes and A Detective's Guide to Interrogation Law) on Amazon, and I'll continue that conversation with this post.

Back in August I talked briefly about advertising on Amazon. In short, I noted that I had been using "Amazon Advertising," but did not spend much time learning about it before starting. I just selected the default entries when setting up my the "campaigns" for the books, and placed a fairly high (70 cent) bid for impressions.

At that time my only "product" was 360 Federal Crimes. It had an extraordinarily low click-through rate (CTR) (.09%) (people who see my ad don't often click on it), but a ridiculously high number of people who clicked on the ad bought the book. So my cost-per-click (CPC) (21 cents) and my advertising cost of sales (ACOS) (.27%) were extraordinarily low. As an indication of how crazy low my ACOS is, the Amazon average ACOS is 30%, so mine is less than 1% of that. The ads were responsible for less than ten percent of my sales, but the cost was nominal (eight bucks), so I did not make any changes.

Sales have slowed a bit, so I thought that it would be a good idea to take a closer look at advertising on Amazon, and launch new campaigns. There is no shortage of Web pages, on Amazon and elsewhere, providing advice on this, but most were difficult to understand (for me, anyway). Also, the terms Amazon uses are not intuitive and have changed over the years. Amazon's self-publishing service is called KDP, which stands for "Kindle Direct Publishing" (it used to be called "Create Space," a service that Amazon acquired and later renamed KDP). The word "Kindle" suggests eBooks, but it encompasses paperbacks (print-on-demand) as well. In 2018 "Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)" was renamed "Amazon Advertising," and the name and availability of various Amazon advertising packages changed as well.

Amazon has about a half dozen selling options, including some only available to "professional sellers." However, if you go to the Advertising solutions for KDP authors page, you only get two options: Sponsored Products and Lockscreen Ads. Lockscreen Ads appear when people power up their Kindle devices. There seems to be a strong consensus among Amazon KDP sellers that these ads don't provide real value, so I won't discuss them further. So that leaves me with Sponsored Products.

Each Sponsored Product campaign is limited to a single product, so there would be separate campaigns for the print and eBook versions of each of my books. On my original campaigns, I figured that the links would ultimately go to an Amazon page with both versions of the book, so I did a single campaign for each book. This time, I am going to do separate campaigns for each format of each book. I can't say why there would be an advantage of doing it that way, but the prompts seem to push you in that direction.

The setup for a Sponsored Products "campaign" begins by querying you for a campaign name, start and end date, and daily budget. On my earlier campaigns, I set my budget at $10, which was never triggered. I'll stay with that, at least until it starts getting triggered.

It next asked whether I want to do manual or automatic targeting. I think that I had it on automatic before, but this time I want to experiment with manual targeting.

It then asks you about your campaign bidding strategy. Some sites counsel caution here, suggesting that you start with dynamic bids-down. Because of my low ACOS and the small amount of dollars involved, I decided to go with dynamic bids, but I'll keep a close eye on this one, especially for eBook sales on the Detective's Guide (don't want to spend a lot per sale on a three dollar item). There are also options for "top of search (first page)" and "product page." The former is self-explanatory, the latter has to do with the "Add to Cart" page. I decided to go 300% for top of search, and leave the other at 0%.

I chose custom text for the ad format (you type in the actual text lower on the form): "Miranda and other interrogation rules explained in plain language with illustrative case examples" for the Detective's Guide, and "A field guide that covers the most commonly charged federal crimes, covering the elements, required mental states, defenses, definitions, DOJ policies, and sentence enhancements" for 360 Federal Crimes.

The next decision was whether to do keyword or product targeting. I plan to do both, but let's begin here with keyword targeting (product targeting would be a separate set of campaigns, and I'll talk about it in my next blog entry).

Amazon did not initially suggest any keywords for the Detective's Guide, but suggestions would pop up as I typed in my keywords. I ultimately chose criminal law, criminal procedure, interrogation, police training, law enforcement, law of confessions, and confessions law as my keywords. I was not sure at first whether to use both "interrogation" and "interrogation law," since both appear in the book's title, and will bring up the book anyway. I tested this by searching for both terms before adding the advertising. My book is the second item that comes up if I search for "interrogation law," but is six pages deep if the search term is "interrogation." So I selected interrogation, but not interrogation law, figuring that the former term needed some help.

I then had to choose "broad," "phrase," or “exact” matches for each of these terms. A broad match picks up synonyms and misspellings. A phrase match allows you control over word order, and allows keywords that include words outside the phrase, but would not pick up phrases where other words are inserted (i.e., police training would pick up police training materials but not training police or police officer training. An exact match requires the exact words used in the search. In all of these matches, Amazon will ignore plurals and mispellings.

My choices for the eBook version of the Detective's Guide (and I am not claiming to be any sort of expert) were confessions law (exact), law of confessions (exact), criminal law (exact), criminal procedure (exact), interrogation (broad and exact), police training (exact), and law enforcement (phrase).

I did not do any negative keyword targeting; could not think of a good one.

As indicated above, I'll come back later this week with notes about product targeting.

(10/12/20) (permalink)