Amazonian Advertising Practices: Part 2

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s a lot going on this week. Hence some daily posts. Today’s topic of choice? More on Amazon’s Advertising System.

So some of you may remember my first post on this topic a few months ago. I’d taken the plunge, using my tax return to pay for Amazon Advertising Services to see exactly how it would shake out. I had to use the tax return for it, because Amazon is paid up front, but any earnings you make are, as expected, royalties. So while you may spend $50 to make $50, you will still have several months to go before that $50 rolls back into your bank account.

Anyway, I’m not going to spend time reiterating exactly how AMS functions, since I gave it a long-form explanation last time. The basic gist of it is that you set up advertising keywords that describe your product (for example, one of Colony‘s keywords is “Expanse” because of its similar genre to The Expanse) and then a bid for that advertising spot. Your bid wins while someone is looking at that product? That individual sees your product, and if they click on it, whether or not they purchase it, you pay the bid.

Anyway, after a month of using it, I’d come to some tentative conclusions, which at the time were that many people who found it balanced out pretty much neutral were right. I was earning back pretty much exactly what I put in, plus or minus a few bucks here and there. Which I found odd, as even if my numbers jumped around quite a bit, they still somehow wound up around 100% in and out.

I’m still not sure why that is. But I can report that with lots of careful fine tuning, several months in, the venture is a little less neutral.

Continue reading

Amazonian Advertising Practices

So, for the last month, I’ve been experimenting with Amazons Marketing Services. Or, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, what amounts to paying Amazon in exchange for Amazon running ads for your product based on keywords and the like. So if someone searches for, say, The Expanse on Amazon right now in the books section, Colony comes up, because the two are similar Science-Fiction.

After a month, I’m starting to see a few of the things I’ve been told about AMS confirmed. One of the reasons I’d avoided it until now was because my research into other authors trying it out came to the conclusion that it was basically a way to get advertising for your books … but to in turn make almost no money off of them, if not none. This because of the strange way Amazon runs its ads, and the system by which they do it.

See, how it works is you set a book to be advertised, followed by a per-keyword ad cost and a daily limit to how much you want to spend. So the keyword may be “action adventure.” You set a cost of 25 cents, and then a daily limit (say, a dollar).

Now what happens is that whenever someone searches for books with the keyword “action adventure” Amazon performs a “bid” for the highest paying ads for that keyword. The ones paying the most go up, and then if the viewer clicks them, it pays one cent more than what that bid beat—so, for instance if the 25 cent bid beat out a 22 cent bid, then it would pay Amazon 23 cents—and the viewer looks at the book, and that 23 cents is counted towards the daily limit.

A little convoluted, but not bad, right? Well … there’s a catch. There’s obviously a catch. See, as was pointed out to me long before I ever tried Amazon Ads, and one of the big criticisms leveled against them is that Amazon has more data on who buys what than the Ad service uses. It simply acts off of keywords, rather than Amazon’s own “We know you’ll like this” system. And so you may end up with clicks that lead to nothing at all quite frequently, because the person who search “Science Fiction” reads Foundation and Hyperion, not Colony. Amazon knows this, but they let the clicks go through anyway.

Continue reading

Shadow, Ads, and Other News

Hey guys, Max here with a couple of noteworthy news updates!


I’ll get to the first and most exciting one first. Shadow of an Empire is now in Beta! The Beta Readers invites have been sent out, several readers have already responded and received their links to the Master Beta Read document, and things are in motion!

Which, if you’re not a Beta Reader, is still pretty cool. After all, a Beta Read is one step closer to Shadow of an Empire being out. We’ve got the Beta Reads, the copy-edit … and then publication.

Whoa. Yeah, it’s getting close. Which means you can probably start looking for a cover preview popping up here before long.


But you know what? That’s not the only preview you should expect. Why stop there? This Monday, I’ve got both another work shift and a doctor’s appointment (my last one for the knee, huzzah!), which means that Being a Better Writer will be Tuesday, right? But why not give you readers something else in its place?

Something like … a full Chapter 1 excerpt from Shadow of an Empire? Beta, sure, but come on, it’s Chapter 1!

So yeah, look for that this Monday morning in lieu of the normal BaBW post!


Okay, shifting gears a bit, because I do have some other news I want to talk about, this concerning the site itself. So, as of last week, Unusual Things is on its own domain: maxonwriting.com. Three cheers, right?

Well, yes, but the new freedom of having Unusual Things be on its own domain came with some questions. And one of the biggest ones was: Ads.

Ads are a pretty strong revenue source. And when my site went to its own domain, no longer dependent on ad-revenue to stay up … those ads vanished. As of right now, the site is ad-free.

Almost immediately, I pointed out that the idea of putting up some ads to bring some of that former revenue my way was … tempting. But at the same time, the more I thought about it … the more I realized I just really don’t like ads. They’re annoying, rarely topical to the site, and worse, a lot of them can hijack web browsers with adscripts, play music, cover content, etc etc etc. No matter how hard a place like Google or other ad companies works to keep ads from doing it, the number of dirtbags who sneak things past are legion.

So here’s the deal. No ads as long as I can afford to keep the site open. You heard me. No ads. Anything you guys see is going to remain 100%-me generated content. All have to do is be able to afford to keep the site running on book profits and patreon donations.

But hey, as long as I can keep doing that, the site will remain ad-free! Not a bad prospect!


Let’s see … Shadow of an Empire in Beta. No BaBW post on Monday, but a sneak peek at chapter 1 of Shadow instead. And no more ads. I think that’s it!

See you all Monday, folks!

 

Reader Feedback: How’s the Ad Experience?

Right, so here’s a question that’s been on my mind for a while with regards to improving the site: How’s the ad experience? I ask because while WordPress informs me that ads appear, I don’t see them. Probably a combination of being the site creator and having adblock running 24/7.

But those who aren’t me, or perhaps do or don’t have adblock … how’s the ad experience? What kind of ads are you seeing? Are they loud? Distracting? Not applicable to the site and subject matter?

I ask because if I up the domain subscription, I can remove ads entirely (or have control over them), and it’s a step I’m considering taking.

So, I ask you, readers: What do you see? Is it annoying? Complimentary? Clashing?

Comment below.