Amazon’s new pay-per-click advertising for KDP Select could be a game-changer for self-publishers

Self-published authors have got a big marketing boost with a new scheme from Amazon which means indies can now advertise their ebooks on Amazon with pay-per-click campaigns.

Since this post was published, Amazon has extended the PPC scheme to cover full-screen ads on Kindle e-readers and full details are available by clicking this link.

A further development (November 2016) means the Amazon advertising schemes are now open to all KDP authors and not just those enrolled in KDP Select and exclusively publishing on Kindle. You can read more about the scheme at Amazon extends advertising schemes to all KDP authors.

To be eligible for the scheme, books have to be exclusive to Kindle by being enrolled in KDP Select and there is a minimum campaign budget of $100.

At present, Amazon promotes books for free by methods such as the list of books under Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought. However, this new advertising deal means self-publishers can really take serious promotions into their own hands. Here’s how you can set up a PPC ad campaign.

How to set up a Kindle Select pay-per-click advertising campaign

The scheme is simple to set up from your KDP Bookshelf. Click on the new Promote & Advertise option under the KDP Select column. On the next page, click on Create an Ad Campaign under the Run an Ad Campaign box, as shown in the screen shot above.

The advertising is run through Amazon’s Marketing Services arm. Select the book to advertise and opt for a choice of whether to target your ad by product or interest. You can also choose not to target a campaign at all, which, I would imagine, involves an ad being shown largely at random.

If you choose product targeting, the ad will be shown to customers interested in selected and similar products, while if you pick interest targeting, the ad will be displayed to people interested in selected categories.

After starting off with fairly broad-ranging categories for interest-targeting, Amazon has added a lot of niches, so it now has 13 top-level categories with a total of 128 sub-categories. The categories are:

  • Biographies & Memoirs (12 sub-categories)
  • Business & Money (16 sub-categories)
  • Children’s (6 sub-categories)
  • Comics & Graphic Novels (7 sub-categories)
  • Education & Teaching (5 sub-categories)
  • Health, Fitness & Dieting (11 sub-categories)
  • Humor & Enertainment (7 sub-categories)
  • Literature & Fiction (14 sub-categories)
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (10 sub-categories)
  • Romance (15 sub-categories)
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy (11 sub-categories)
  • Teen & Young Adult (7 sub-categories)
  • Other (10 sub-categories) —
    • Computers & Technology
    • Cookbooks, Food & Wine
    • Crafts, Hobbies & Home
    • History
    • Non-fiction
    • Parenting & Relationships
    • Politics & Social Sciences
    • Science & Math
    • Sports & Outdoors
    • Travel

    The next step is to set a campaign name, bid and budget. Amazon will show the average bid, which is now generally around $0.52-$0.63, and the minimum budget that can be set is $100.

    You don’t pay out the total budget up front as you will be charged periodically in small increments as the campaign runs.

    Your CPC bid is the maximum amount you will be charged when someone clicks your ad.

    The actual cost-per-click is determined in an automatic online auction that takes place with other eligible ads.

    You will be charged $0.01 more than the second-highest bid in the auction for a click, up to your maximum CPC bid.

    Set the campaign start and end date and pick a pacing option to either deliver the campaign as quickly as possible or allow Amazon to spread out the campaign smoothly.

    A preview of the ad will be automatically generated using the book’s cover, title, and price, in the same style as most of the book ads on Amazon.

    The final step is to select a payment option and submit the campaign for review.

    When the campaign is running, you pay only when a customer clicks your ad, not when an ad is displayed but not clicked. People who click your ad will be taken to the book’s Product Details page.

    Reports will be generated to show how many times an ad was shown and clicked and how many books are sold as a result, so you should be able to see the cost-benefit result of a campaign easily.

    Details of how the online auction works

    When a user loads a page, an auction takes place where advertisers bid for available placements. Higher bids may result in higher delivery of ads and clicks, and better quality of ad placements.

    If an ad does not spend the full budget, it may be because a bid is too low to win auctions. Limiting an ad to a narrow list of interest categories can also affect performance as there will be fewer auctions.

    Amazon says if an ad does not perform well, you should consider raising your bid and selecting fewer audience interest categories in further campaigns.

    Details of how charging works

    Your credit card will be charged periodically throughout the ad campaign, as the outstanding balance reaches certain thresholds. After each charge, the next threshold increases until it reaches 10% of the campaign lifetime budget, after which your credit card will be charged whenever your outstanding campaign balance reaches that amount.

    For example, a campaign with a $1,000 budget will be charged after it accrues outstanding balances of $1, $5, $10, $20, $40, $80, $100, $100, $100 and on until the entire lifetime budget is spent.

    The relatively high $100 campaign minimum means the Kindle PPC ad scheme might not meet all self-publishers’ budgets and doesn’t compare with the low sums you can spend on Twitter and Facebook ad campaigns.

    However, the Kindle advertising is obviously much better targeted for anyone wanting to sell books and the $100 level makes sense as you need at least a certain scale to produce any meaningful level of business.

    The Kindle Select PPC scheme is far from perfect but it is a valuable tool for self-publishers. No other ebook retailer offers any similar form of promotion and to set up a fully-fledged publisher’s advertising account with Amazon requires a six-figure commitment at least, so this might be a small step for indie authors but it’s a step in the right direction.

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    Amazon extends KDP pay-per-click advertising to full-screen ads on Kindle e-readers for self-published authors