Amazon Ads For Authors: A Step-by-Step Blueprint

Headshot of Matt Holmes By Matthew Holmes
Last updated on October 4th, 2022

Amazon Ads offer an incredible opportunity to position your books in front of readers who are actually looking for a book to buy; these are readers who are primed to make a purchase.

Facebook Ads definitely have their place, without a doubt, and can drive a LOT of traffic to your books, but Amazon Ads are in a different ballpark because you’re advertising on THE platform where books are sold. 

With Facebook Ads, you are, essentially, interrupting people as they scroll on Facebook – they aren’t there to look for books. 

So, if Amazon Ads are so great, why do many authors struggle to gain traction with them? 

From my experience, it’s because they don’t have a system in place. There’s no structure to their account. They are randomly testing all sorts of ideas in the hopes that something will stick. It’s a spaghetti-on-the-wall approach! 

Well, in this article, I’m going to show you the system I use when running Amazon Ads that you can implement today.

Here’s what you’ll learn:
  1. My exact strategy for Amazon Ads that works with small and large budgets
  2. The 3 campaigns I use with this strategy and how to launch them
  3. How to make sure you don’t go over budget
  4. The importance of big picture thinking
  5. My controversial view on why ACOS really isn’t that important
Chapter 1

Do You Really Need Amazon Ads?

Before we dive in, if you’re on the fence about Amazon Ads or just need a little more convincing that they are worth investing in, from both a time and money perspective, hear me out…

When you’re looking for your next book to read, where do you go? If you’re like most people around the world, the first place you go is Amazon. 

And how do you find a book you want to read?

You probably type something into the search bar and from there, your quest begins:

  • Looking through the search results
  • Clicking on a few books
  • Reading their descriptions
  • Getting distracted by other books that are advertised on the product pages of the books you’re looking at
  • Looking at the Also-Bought carousels on product pages

What I’m trying to drill home here is that you don’t always go to Amazon with an exact book you want to buy. Sometimes you do, of course, if you hear of a specific book on a podcast, YouTube video, blog post, etc.

A lot of the time though, you are looking for a particular type of book, such as:

  • Personal Development
  • Crime Thriller
  • Historical Romance
  • Psychological Thriller
  • Gaslamp Fantasy
  • How To Code
  • Gardening for Beginners
  • The list goes on…

And with Amazon Ads, at every stage of a reader's journey to find their next book, you can position your book in front of them. This is why it’s so important to understand your readers;  

  • Who they are
  • How they search for books
  • Which other authors they enjoy reading
  • Alternative genres/types of books they enjoy reading

Hopefully, by now, I’ve convinced you that Amazon Ads are worth your investment, so let’s now move on to understanding Amazon Ads in a little more detail, specifically, the types of Amazon Ads.

There are different types of Amazon Ads, but the main ones you’ll be using are:

  • Sponsored Products Ads
  • Sponsored Brands Ads

With this article today, we’ll be focusing on Sponsored Products Ads, as these are going to drive 80% of your results anyway, whether you’re spending $20 per day or $1,000 per day.

Sponsored Products Ads appear on Search Results pages and Product Pages, as you can see from the examples below.

ponsored Products Ad Example - Search Results

Sponsored Products Ad on a Search Results Page

Sponsored Products Ad Example - Product Pages

Sponsored Products Ad on a Product Page

Both placements have their uses and different campaigns will perform differently in each placement. You’ll have some campaigns that work great in search results and other campaigns that perform exceptionally well on product pages.

And the good news is that you can optimize your campaigns in favor of your best-performing placements; but that is a topic for another day, as it can get pretty advanced.

One final note on how Amazon Ads work that is vitally important to understand. 

The success of your Amazon Ads comes down to 2 key factors:

  • Your Bid
    • This is how much you are prepared to pay for a single click on your Ad. Amazon uses an Auction model and they only charge you when your Ads are actually clicked; impressions of your Ads (i.e. how many times your Ads are shown) won’t cost you a penny. 
  • Your Relevance
    • Amazon places a huge emphasis on relevance because they want to provide the best possible shopping experience to their customers. This is why targeting only the most relevant targets is so important

Other factors are involved in how successful your Amazon Ads are, but the above two are by far the most important. 

If you’re ready then, let’s move on to the Amazon Ads Blueprint, outline the strategy and start building out your campaigns.

Chapter 2

The Blueprint

What I’m about to walk you through in the remainder of this article, is one of the exact blueprints I use when running Amazon Ads.

The beauty of this blueprint is that it works whether you’re spending $10 per day, $500 per day, or anywhere in between. On top of this, because the blueprint is so simple, all you need is 60 minutes per week to optimize and manage your campaigns. 

Of course, you could spend much longer than 60 minutes on your Amazon Ads, but you have books to write, things to do, family and friends to spend time with, etc.

If you’re like a lot of authors I speak to on a daily basis, you want to get in and get out of your Amazon Ads account, whilst feeling confident that your Ads are fine-tuned, reaching your ideal readers and ultimately, selling books.

Now, this blueprint isn’t the only way to run Amazon Ads; this is just what works for me. If you want to adapt this blueprint to fit your books, your series, and your workflow, go for it! 

My goal with this article is to show you how I run Amazon Ads and give you the knowledge and confidence to do this for yourself.

With that said, let’s dive in…

The Campaigns

This blueprint contains just 3 very simple campaigns that I will be showing you how to launch, step-by-step. 

The 3 campaigns are:

  • 1 x Automatic Targeting Campaign
  • 1 x Category Targeting Campaign
  • 1 x Brand Keywords Campaign

You can of course launch many other types of campaigns, but these are my 3 go-to campaigns for Amazon Ads accounts large and small.

Chapter 3

Budget Control

If you’re working to a tight budget, or any budget at all for that matter, which I’m sure you are, then it’s a good idea to put some buffers in place to make sure you don’t overspend.

You can do this directly inside your Amazon Ads account using something known as Portfolios

Think of portfolios as folders within your Amazon Ads Account that you can add any number of campaigns into. I love using portfolios because they help keep my account clean, organized, and uncluttered.

So, let’s go ahead and do this together now.

Step 1 – Create A Portfolio

On the left-hand side of your Amazon Ads dashboard, near the top, click the + Create a portfolio button, as pictured below.

Create Portfolio

Step 2 – Name Your Portfolio

In the box that pops up, give your portfolio a name and then click the blue Create a portfolio button.

Name your portfolio

Step 3: Modify Portfolio

Open your portfolio by clicking on it in the left-hand sidebar of your dashboard and click the Modify Portfolio button near the top right of your screen, as pictured below.

Modify Portfolio

Step 4: Add A Budget Monthly Cap

Once you’re inside the portfolio settings after clicking Modify Portfolio, you’ll see a Budget Cap option with a dropdown menu. The default setting here is No budget cap

However, to ensure you don’t spend more than your available budget on any given month, click the dropdown menu and choose Recurring Monthly

Recurring Monthly

Step 5: Define Your Monthly Budget Cap

You can now define what your monthly budget cap will be by entering that amount into the Enter Amount box, as highlighted below.

Define Monthly Budget Cap

Once you’re happy, click the Save Changes button near the bottom right of your screen.

What we have just done here is added the maximum amount that Amazon is allowed to spend on all the campaigns we put into this specific portfolio. 

Once the combined total spend of all the campaigns in this portfolio reaches your set monthly budget cap, they will stop running and stop spending money, until one of the following happens:

  • You remove the budget cap
  • You increase the budget cap
  • The first of the month rolls around again and the budget cap is reset to your original cap

This is a failsafe way to protect your money and ensure that you don’t go over your allocated budget for Amazon Ads on any given month. 

You can of course increase or decrease your budget cap at any time. 

Chapter 4

A Mindset Shift…

One of the most important mindsets to get your head around with not just Amazon Ads, but advertising and marketing, in general, is this…

Your book sells your book.

Amazon Ads (and other marketing and advertising channels) are purely there to drive awareness and traffic to your books. Your book itself and the way you present your book to readers is what will sell it. 

The better your book sells itself (i.e. the more conversions/sales you generate), the better your Amazon Ads will perform.

Yes, you need to drive relevant traffic to your books, but once you’ve got readers looking at your book on Amazon, what is going to make them want to buy your book? 

5 assets on your book product page will impact the conversion rate of your Amazon Ads; in no particular order:

  • Book Cover
  • Book Description
  • Price
  • Reviews/Ratings
  • Title and Subtitle

Get these things right and your Amazon Ads will be off to the races!

There are a couple of posts right here on Kindleprenuer that I highly recommend reading that will help you craft a high-converting book product page:

Chapter 5

Tracking Your Results

Before we launch your Amazon Ads campaigns, there’s one more topic I need to cover that will ensure you have a solid foundation in place. 

And that is the topic of tracking.

Tracking the performance of your Amazon Ads on a weekly or monthly basis is not only going to allow you to spot patterns and trends in the data, but it’s also going to show you the role that your Amazon Ads play in a much larger game. 

Amazon Ads are just one way to drive traffic to your books; there are plenty of other ways to position your books in front of your ideal readers, such as: 

  • Facebook Ads
  • BookBub Ads
  • TikTok Ads
  • Newsletter Swaps
  • Group Promos
  • The list goes on…

As I’ll cover at the end of this article, Amazon Ads don’t operate inside of a vacuum and you should never be looking at them in isolation. 

This is why tracking not only your Amazon Ads results is important, but also, other Ad spend and your Total Royalties, Total Orders, and Total Page Reads. This will give you a much better idea of the impact your advertising and marketing (including Amazon Ads) is having on the performance of your books as a whole. 

To save you hours and hours of time creating a tracking sheet, I’ve done it for you! 

Access the exact tracking sheet I and authors around the world are using, by joining The Morning ACOS my daily-ish email newsletter where I share the latest actionable tips, strategies, tactics, and insights into Amazon Ads for authors, all within less than 3 minutes per day.

I’ll also send you the tool I use to plan out Amazon Ads campaigns, targeting ideas, etc.

So, with your foundation in place, it’s now time to launch those campaigns. Here we go…

Chapter 6

Campaign #1: The Automatic Targeting Campaign

These are, without a doubt, my favorite Amazon Ads campaigns. Why? Six reasons:

  • They are highly scalable
  • They are quick to setup
  • They can be optimized quickly and effectively
  • They harness the power of Amazon’s incredible algorithm
  • They find targeting ideas you may never have thought of on your own
  • They keep up to date with the latest books and search trends in your genre and target them on your behalf

Once you’re familiar with the Amazon Ads interface, you can launch an Automatic Targeting campaign in less than 2 minutes – and that’s not an exaggeration!

The way these campaigns work is that you tell Amazon which book you’d like to advertise and Amazon will then go out and test hundreds, if not thousands of different keywords and ASINs (other books) on your behalf. 

You can then see all this data, look at everything Amazon has been testing for you and optimize accordingly, helping Amazon hone in on what is actually working. 

Pretty powerful, right? 

So, let’s jump into the Amazon Ads dashboard and launch your first Automatic Targeting Campaign.

Step 1

On your Amazon Ads dashboard, click the blue Create Campaign button.

Create Campaign

Step 2

Choose the Sponsored Products campaign type.

Sponsored Products Campaign Type

Step 3

The next screen you’ll see will be the campaign creation page, which may look a little daunting if this is your first time here, but don’t worry, I’ll guide you through it all, step by step. 

If you’re advertising on Amazon.com, the first thing to do is choose your Ad Format, of which there are two options:

  • Custom text ad
  • Standard ad

IMPORTANT: If you are advertising on Amazon.co.uk or any marketplace outside of Amazon.com, you will not have the option to choose an Ad Format

By default, in all marketplaces outside of Amazon.com, Standard ad will be used. 

At the time of writing, Amazon.com has a slightly different campaign set-up process than some other marketplaces, but the details you are required to enter remain the same in each marketplace, aside from the Ad Format option we’ve just been through.

The 2 Ad formats on Amazon.com behave quite differently from each other; here’s a rundown:

  • Custom text ad: Allows you to write a short blurb (150 characters) for your book that appears on your Ad. Plus, you can only advertise 1 book per campaign.
  • Standard ad: You don’t have the option to write a short blurb for your Ad, but you can advertise multiple books in a single campaign, and use something known as Ad Groups (think of these as folders within a campaign – we’ll be using these later on). 

Personally, from all the testing I have done, I haven’t seen any noticeable difference in performance between ads that use the Custom text ad format and ads that use the Standard ad format. 

For this reason, I recommend choosing the Standard ad format.

Standard Ad

Step 4

You will now see a new box where you can enter an Ad group name. The Ad Group is where you’ll define the targeting of your campaign and your bids, as well as the books you’d like to advertise.

Ad Group Name

When it comes to naming your Ad Group, to keep things simple, I like to use the same name for my Ad Groups and Campaigns. 

It’s easy to gloss over developing a consistent, clear, and understandable naming convention when you’re just starting. 

But once you build up a few campaigns in your account, you’ll soon discover that using a standard naming convention across all your campaigns and Ad Groups helps immensely when managing your account.

Here’s how I name my campaigns and Ad Groups:

[BOOK TITLE] | [CAMPAIGN TYPE AND/OR TARGETING]

Let’s put some context around this to help, using my wife’s books as an example:

The Forbidden | Auto

Straight forward. Simple to understand. You know exactly which book this campaign is advertising and the type of targeting it’s using.

So, name your Ad Group how you wish, and let’s move on.

Step 5

It’s now time to choose the book you’d like to advertise in this campaign. So, click Add next to the book you’ll be advertising and it will be added to the right-hand column of the Products section.

Choose Book

If you’re using the Standard ad format, as I am here, you’ll be able to add multiple books into the same ad group. If, instead, you are using the Custom text ad format, you will only be able to add one book to a single campaign.

At this stage, I recommend advertising one book per campaign. And when it comes to which book to choose, here’s what I suggest:

  • Book 1 of your best-performing series OR
  • Your best-performing stand-alone book

Chosen your book? Great, let’s move on.

Step 6

In the Targeting section, you can choose between Automatic Targeting or Manual Targeting

Automatic Targeting

As this is an Automatic Targeting campaign we’re building here, stick with the default option of Automatic Targeting and move on to the next step.

Step 7

Next, we will be defining your bids – how much you are prepared to pay for a single click on your Amazon Ads. The default bidding option for Automatic Targeting campaigns is Set default bid

Set default bid

For best results with automatic targeting, I never use this option and recommend you choose Set bids by targeting group instead.

Set bids by targeting group

Step 8

Now it’s time to define your bids for each targeting group. 

Before we do though, a quick rundown of how each targeting group differs from one another:

  • Close match: Targets search terms that are closely related to your advertised book
  • Loose match: Targets search terms that are loosely related to your advertised book
  • Substitutes: Targets ASINs (i.e., other books) that are similar to your advertised book
  • Complements: Targets ASINs (i.e., other books) that are loosely related to your advertised book

You have the ability to not only set individual bids for each targeting group but also, to turn each one off if it’s not performing. For now, though, we’re going to leave all 4 targeting groups turned on. 

When it comes to bidding for each targeting group, remember, this is the amount you are prepared to pay for a single click on your Ad. 

Amazon does show you a Suggested Bid for each targeting group, so by all means base your bid on that number, but I have never found it to be overly accurate. It’s a good guide, but take it with a pinch of salt.

I recommend setting your highest bid on Close Match and your lowest bid on Compliments, which could look like this:

  • Close Match: $0.58
  • Loose Match: $0.57
  • Substitutes: $0.56
  • Compliments: $0.54

The higher you bid, the more aggressive you’re being and the more chance you have of generating impressions, clicks, and sales because you’re more competitive. 

However, if your Ads don’t convert very well (which they may not in the beginning, before optimization), you could potentially lose money, but you will generally collect data much quicker than bidding low.

If $0.58 sounds expensive and too aggressive for you at this stage, bid lower. Though, I will say that bidding under $0.30 is unlikely to generate much traction for you.

A good starting bid, if you’re completely unsure of where to begin, is between $0.30 and $0.50. 

And a top tip – bid odd numbers, such as $0.43 or $0.47. This can just give you a little edge in the Amazon Ads auction.

Step 9

Continue scrolling down the screen and you’ll come across the Negative Targeting section; there’s a section for Negative Keywords and Negative Products.

Negative Targeting

Negative Targeting allows you to tell Amazon not to target a particular keyword or a particular ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number – each book on Amazon has its own unique ASIN). 

Over time, with Negative Targeting, you’re training Amazon to focus on the best performing targets for this campaign.

At this stage though, we aren’t going to use any negative targeting, as it’s something I prefer to do once I’ve collected some data and I can get a feeling for what type of targeting is and isn’t working.

So, for now, you can continue scrolling on down the page.

Step 10

Next up is choosing your Bidding Strategy, of which there are three to choose from:

  1. Dynamic bids down only: Amazon will lower your bids if it deems that a click on your Ad is unlikely to convert into a sale of your advertised book.
  2. Dynamic bids up and down: Amazon will raise your bids by up to 100% if it thinks a click is likely to convert into a sale or lower your bid if it thinks a click is unlikely to result in a sale.
  3. Fixed bids: Amazon won’t make any changes to your bids; they will use your exact bid in the auction.

Personally, for new campaigns and when working with smaller budgets, Dynamic Bids Down Only, is what I recommend as it provides a good safety net for your budget.

Campaign Bidding Strategy

If, after 1-2 weeks of a campaign running and I’m not getting much traction (i.e. impressions and clicks), then I’ll switch to Fixed Bids to be more aggressive and prevent Amazon from messing with my bids (which is what they’re doing with Dynamic Bids Down Only).

So, for now, stick with Dynamic Bids Down Only, and let’s move on to the final step of setting up your Automatic Targeting campaign. 

Step 11

We’ve reached the Campaign Settings; the final stage of the campaign setup where you need to:

  • Enter your Campaign Name
  • Choose a Portfolio to put your campaign into
  • Set your Start and End Dates
  • Define your Daily Budget
Campaign Settings

Starting with the campaign name, as I mentioned back in Step 4, in most cases, I use the same Ad Group Name and Campaign name, to keep things simple. 

Campaign Name

Next up, choose the Portfolio to place this campaign into.

This is the portfolio you created right at the beginning of this article, that you may have called something along the lines of:

1 | YOUR BOOK TITLE

Portfolio

Select this portfolio from the drop-down list and you’re good to go.

Start and End Dates are next.

The Start Date, by default, will always be today’s date. And the default End Date is No End Date.

Start and End Date

I rarely adjust these dates. If you do though, you can choose a Start and End Date by simply clicking on the date box and choosing the relevant dates for your campaign to start and/or end.

Otherwise, let’s move on to the final setting of your campaign setup. The daily budget. 

My personal recommendation is, if you can, to budget for $10 per day. This will allow you to collect a good amount of usable data in a reasonable period of time.

Daily Budget

If $10 per day is too high, start with $5 per day; just be prepared to wait a little longer to collect the data you need in order to start scaling things up. 

One of Amazon’s little quirks is that they may not necessarily spend the entire daily budget you allocate to them each day.

I have some campaigns using a $250 per day budget; on a good day, those campaigns might spend $50 – $100; nowhere near the full budget I’ve allowed. So do keep that in mind. 

Of course, there is still the chance that Amazon will spend your entire daily budget, so, only budget what you can afford to lose. I’m not saying you will lose it, but if budgeting $250 per day for a single campaign is too much for you, don’t enter that budget! 

From the thousands of campaigns I’ve run over the years, I’ve found that even the gesture of showing Amazon you are prepared to spend a good amount of money each day makes them more willing to show your Ads, which, for you, means more impressions, more clicks, more sales, and, importantly, more data.

Step 12

Before you excitedly hit that blue Launch Campaign button, it’s worth spending 30 seconds just double-checking all the information you’ve entered on this page. It’s amazing what mistakes you can pick up on a second run-through! 

Once you’re happy that all the details are correct, hit the Launch Campaign button and your campaign will go into review and will be up and running within the next 72 hours, providing it meets all of Amazon’s criteria, which you will have done if you’ve followed through my process here, step-by-step.

Amazon says campaigns will be live within 72 hours, but I typically find they are actually up and running within 12-24 hours.

Once your campaign has been approved by Amazon, you’ll receive an email from them letting you know it has been “moderated.”

This is a very odd choice of words in my opinion, but what you’re really looking for within this email is that your campaign is now “eligible.” 

Essentially, that is the magic word and your campaign is now live and eligible to be entered into the Amazon Ads auction. 

Over the following hours and days, you should start seeing impressions, clicks, and hopefully, sales and page reads coming in on your Amazon Ads dashboard, as Amazon starts testing out different keywords, ASINs, and placements for your Automatic Targeting campaign.

Chapter 7

Campaign #2: The Category Targeting Campaign

Category Targeting campaigns do exactly that – they target books (ASINs) within a category of your choosing. 

These are casting a very wide net, particularly if you are targeting a big category, and they can sometimes work like gangbusters; other times, they can be a complete money pit

However, as long as you are conservative with your bidding and budget, and you keep on top of your optimization, in 80% of cases, these campaigns can tick along nicely, picking up some great, low-cost sales and page reads for you.

They are also putting your book out there in front of a huge number of readers, so are great for generating brand awareness of your books. 

Without further ado then, let’s dive into the step-by-step and launch your Category Targeting campaign. 

Step 1

As we did with the Automatic Targeting campaign, once again, choose the Sponsored Products campaign type.

Sponsored Products Campaign Type

Step 2

Also, as before, choose the Standard Ad, which will allow us to use the Ad Group feature because, with this single campaign, we’re going to be creating 3 Ad Groups.

Standard Ad

You can leave the Ad Group Name box empty for the time being as we’ll be coming back to this shortly. 

Ad Group Name

Step 3

Choose the book you’d like to advertise in this Campaign. For the blueprint I’m walking you through in this article, we’re focusing on Book 1 of your series or your best-performing stand-alone book. 

Choose Book

Step 4

Instead of Automatic Targeting, in the Targeting box, this time, choose Manual Targeting as this will allow you to choose a specific category to target.

Manual Targeting

Step 5

You’ll see a new box appear after you’ve selected Manual Targeting, titled, imaginatively, Manual Targeting! In here, you have 2 options:

  • Keyword Targeting
  • Product Targeting

For this campaign, choose Product Targeting.

Product Targeting

Step 6

In the new Product Targeting section, you’ll see 2 tabs:

  • Categories
  • Individual Products

Individual Products gives you the option to target specific ASINs (Books) with your Amazon Ads; this is very granular targeting and can work exceptionally well. 

For this current campaign we’re building, however, we’re going to be using Categories, which is selected by default.

Categories

You’ll see a list of suggested categories from Amazon here, as illustrated in the above screenshot. These are the categories Amazon believes your advertised book is relevant to, so it’s a great place to start. 

In most instances, these suggested categories are very accurate. If not, you can click the Search tab (highlighted below) and search for a specific category instead.

Category Search

For now though, we’ll come back to the Suggested categories and choose one from here. You can see an approximation of how many books are in a particular category underneath the category name, next to Products, as highlighted below.

Category Size

I’m advertising my wife’s novel here, which is a historical fantasy series, so I’ll choose the Historical Fantasy category by clicking the little blue Add button next to that category.

Historical Fantasy Category

Once you’ve clicked Add, this category will appear in the right-hand column, telling you that it has been added as a target for this Ad Group.

Chosen Category

An important point to mention here is that if you’re advertising the Kindle version of your book, only choose categories that have Kindle Store in the category string.

If you’re advertising the Paperback or Hardback version of your book, only choose categories that have Books in the category string.

This will help ensure your Ads are only shown to readers who are looking at a specific format of book (Kindle or Print).

Step 7

Next, it’s time to set your bid for this category. 

As I mentioned earlier, these category targeting campaigns can run a little wild, which is why I always like to start bids relatively low, at around the $0.30 mark. 

You can see Amazon’s Suggested bid and Suggested bid range, so this gives you a rough guide of where to pitch your bid. But some categories will be suggesting bids of $0.80 or higher – far too high for a category targeting campaign, particularly right out of the gate.

So, for this example, I’m going to bid $0.32, which I do by clicking on the Bid box on the right-hand side, entering my bid, and clicking Save.

Category Bid

Step 8

You can skip over the Negative Product Targeting section, as I don’t recommend negating any ASINs (Books) at this stage; it’s something you do once you’ve collected data. 

With the Bidding Strategy section, as these category targeting campaigns can spend your budget very easily, I suggest leaving your bidding strategy set to the default setting: Dynamic Bids Down Only

Campaign Bidding Strategy

Using Dynamic Bids Up and Down or Fixed Bids is generally too aggressive for these category targeting campaigns. 

Step 9

Now we’ll move onto the Campaign Settings, where, once again, you need to set the:

  • Campaign Name
  • Portfolio
  • Start and End Date
  • Daily Budget

Here’s how I name my category targeting campaigns:

[BOOK TITLE] | Categories

For example:

The Forbidden | Categories

You could also include the format of the book you’re advertising in the campaign name; particularly useful if you’ll be advertising multiple formats of your book. As an example:

The Forbidden | Categories [Kindle]

For the Portfolio, choose the same one you did for the Automatic Targeting campaign.

I’d recommend leaving the Start and End date as default and for the budget, $10 per day is what I would suggest. 

Step 10

The final step of creating this campaign is to name the Ad Group, as we have left this blank up until now. 

Ad Group Name

So, scroll back to the top of the screen and enter the name of the category you’re targeting in this Ad Group. For me, I use ‘CAT’ (for Category) followed by the category I’m targeting; here’s what that looks like:

CAT: Historical Fantasy

Once you’ve entered your Ad Group Name, check over all the details in the campaign and when you’re ready, click the blue Launch Campaign button. 

Step 11

Once you’ve launched this campaign, you’ll come to a confirmation page that looks something like this. 

Campaign Confirmation

You’ve just created your first Ad Group within this campaign. It’s now time to create 2 more Ad Groups inside the same campaign, that will be targeting different categories than the one you’re targeting in this first Ad Group.

To do this, click on the Edit Campaign button on the confirmation page.

Edit Campaign button

Step 12

To create a new Ad Group, simply click on the blue ‘Create Ad Group’ button.

New-Ad-Group-Button

Step 13

From here, follow steps 2-10 above to create your new Ad Group targeting a different category. And repeat once more until you have a total of 3 Ad Groups in your campaign, which will look something like this:

3-Ad-Groups

And that is your Category Targeting campaign setup! 

As with all campaigns, Amazon can take anywhere from a few hours, up to 3 days to review and approve your campaign. 

Once it’s started delivering, let it run for 1-2 weeks, then come back in, look at the data and optimize accordingly.

Now, let’s move on to the final campaign in this little trifecta…

Chapter 8

Campaign #3: The Brand Keywords Campaign

Protecting your author brand on Amazon is something that is often overlooked by authors. Many feel it is a “waste” of money targeting your brand keywords (e.g. your author name, your book titles, etc.) that you’re already ranking for organically (without Ads).

I can see the logic in this thinking, but I have also seen the results that these brand keyword campaigns deliver – and they are quite astonishing! 

This is why I ALWAYS use Brand Keyword campaigns. They not only generate a lot of sales and page reads, but they also protect your author brand and ensure that when readers come to Amazon specifically to look for your books… they find them! 

If you’re not running Brand Keyword campaigns, I can guarantee that you’re leaving money on the table and other authors will be stealing sales (and readers) away from you. 

Enough preamble… hopefully by now you’re convinced to at least give these Brand Keyword campaigns a try, so, let’s get into the step-by-step.

Step 1

First, make a list of all your Brand Keywords; these include:

  • Your Author Name
  • Your Book Title(s)
  • Your Series Title(s)

You can make this list in a spreadsheet, a word document, or the Targeting Tool inside my Amazon Ads Toolkit, which you’ll get immediate access to when you join The Morning ACOS.

Step 2

As before, create a new campaign from your Amazon Ads Dashboard and choose the Sponsored Products campaign type. 

Sponsored Products Campaign Type

Step 3

Next, choose the Standard Ad option and name your Ad Group. 

The way I run these Brand Keyword campaigns is to advertise all the books in a particular series inside one campaign. I have always found this to be more effective than a separate campaign for each book. 

If you write standalone books, you could group all your books that are in a similar category or genre or cover a similar topic, into the same campaign. 

With this in mind, here is how I name my Ad Groups and Campaigns, but as always, feel free to use your own naming convention:

BRAND | [SERIES TITLE] | Brand Keywords 

For my wife’s books, here’s how that would look:

BRAND | Ancestors Saga | Brand Keywords

Brand Keyword Ad Group Name

Step 4

Add all the relevant books into this campaign. As I mentioned above, that could be all the books in a particular series or a group of standalone titles. 

All Books - Brand Campaign

Step 5

In the Targeting section choose Manual Targeting and then Keyword Targeting.

Targeting - Manual and Keyword

Step 6

When it comes to the keywords and bids, here’s how I like to do it…

Copy and paste the Brand Keywords you collected earlier and paste them into the keyword box, as highlighted below.

Brand Keywords in Box

I also prefer to start these Brand Keyword campaigns using the Phrase Match Type by unchecking the Broad and Exact Match Types. 

This allows me a good amount of control, but also the opportunity to discover more brand keywords I may never have thought of that readers use to find the books I’m advertising. 

I also set a high, aggressive, Custom Bid of around $0.88, sometimes over $1.00. 

I wouldn’t expect to pay $0.88 a click with Brand Keyword campaigns, as you are clearly highly relevant to your own books! However, this high bid just helps to protect your author brand by, hopefully, outbidding a lot of other authors who are targeting your brand keywords.

Step 7

Once you’ve set the Match Type and Bid, click the grey Add Keywords button and they will be added into this Ad Group.

Add Brand Keywords

Step 8

Moving down the page, the next section is Negative Keywords. You can ignore this section and carry on scrolling down to the Campaign Bidding Strategy section. 

As with the bid itself, with the Bidding Strategy, I am always as aggressive as possible with these Brand Keyword campaigns, so choose the Fixed Bids option here. This will prevent Amazon from messing with your bids and ensure your full bid is entered into the auction.

Bidding Strategy - Brand Keywords

Step 9

Almost there… We’re on the final straight now!

To finish:

  1. Enter the Campaign Name (same as your Ad Group name)
  2. Choose the same portfolio as the previous campaigns you’ve launched
  3. Leave the Start and End dates as default (unless you have a specific reason not to!)
  4. Enter a daily budget of at least $20-$30 per day if you can; with the high bids you’re using in this campaign, it will just show Amazon that you are prepared to spend money on this campaign and they are more inclined to show your Ads.
Brand Keyword Campaign Settings

Step 10

Then, simply review all the information you’ve entered, and when you’re ready, click the blue Launch Campaign button. 

And congratulations… Your trifecta of Amazon Ads Campaigns is up and running!

Now it’s time to get back to writing your next book, whilst the data on your Amazon Ads starts to come in!

Before you do that, however, there’s one final very important mindset shift you need to make to see the true impact your Amazon Ads are having. 

Let’s discuss…

Chapter 9

Big Picture Thinking (And Why ACOS Really Doesn’t Matter)

This section of the article is potentially going to ruffle a few feathers, but I stand by what I am about to say because I see it play out every single day. 

Ultimately, Amazon Ads are just a part of a much bigger pie. And you should never be looking at your Amazon Ads in isolation, inside a vacuum.

This will make more sense with some context around it…

Let’s say you’re advertising Book 1 of your 5 book series with Amazon Ads.

If you’re only looking at your Amazon Ads Dashboard, you’re only going to be seeing the sales (and page reads if your books are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited) that are being generated directly from the Amazon Ads.

Remember, in this scenario, 4 other books aren’t being advertised with Amazon Ads and are therefore not even attributable to the Amazon Ads.

If you sold 100 copies of Book 1 with your Amazon Ads, a percentage of those people who bought Book 1 (let’s be conservative and say 50%) go on to buy Book 2. And 80% of the people who buy Book 2 go on to buy Book 3, etc. 

All those additional sales of Books 2-5 are still putting money (Royalties) in your pocket, but if you’re looking at your Amazon Ads in isolation, you won’t be seeing any of that data. 

You may even be thinking that your Amazon Ads are failing miserably because you’re spending more on Amazon Ads than you’re earning in sales. 

Whereas, in fact, with readthrough to your other books in the series, you’re actually wildly profitable! 

So, always look at the bigger picture by analyzing the Total Royalties reported in your KDP Dashboard, as well as your Total Orders and, if applicable, Total Page Reads.

ACOS Doesn't Matter

This brings me onto the controversial topic of ACOS, which stands for Advertising Cost of Sale and is measured as a percentage.

The ACOS calculation is:

(Ad Spend / Sales) x 100

An important point to mention here is that the Sales number in your Amazon Ads Dashboard is based on the list price of your book, NOT the Royalty you receive from each sale.

That alone puts ACOS into the inaccurate category for me!

On top of that, if your books are in Kindle Unlimited, you’re earning money from Page Reads, which are reported in your Amazon Ads Dashboard. 

However, ACOS isn’t taking your Page Read Royalties (referred to as KENP Royalties) generated through your Amazon Ads, into account with its calculation.

Even more reason why I take ACOS with a pinch of salt.

ACOS is supposedly telling you how profitable your Amazon Ads are, which it does, in a way; it just fails to take the big picture into account – and all the numbers I’ve mentioned above! 

So, a slightly more accurate metric to use, which isn’t reported in your Amazon Ads Dashboard, is something I call Blended ACOS, which does take KENP Royalties into account. 

The calculation for Blended ACOS looks like this:

(Ad Spend / (Sales + KENP Royalties)) x 100

Whilst not totally accurate, because it’s still basing the Sales figure on the list price of your book, not the Royalties received for each sale, it’s definitely more reliable than the standard ACOS figure in your Amazon Ads Dashboard, as your KENP Royalties are now accounted for. 

Look at TACOS Instead

There is an even better metric to look at though, which takes the big picture into account. And that metric is known as TACOS (which stands for Total Advertising Cost of Sale). 

The calculation for TACOS is:

(Ad Spend / Total Royalties) x 100

So, if you spent $1,000 on Amazon Ads and you earned $2,000 in Total Royalties (this is the Royalty figure reported in your KDP Dashboard), your TACOS for the month would be 50%. 

This is telling you that you spent 50% of your Royalties on Amazon Ads. 

A 100% TACOS would mean you broke even, as you spent the same on Amazon Ads as you earned in Royalties.

A TACOS of over 100% would mean you spent more on Amazon Ads than you earned in Royalties (i.e. you made a loss). 

A good TACOS for most authors who are earning money from their Royalties only, is anywhere from 20% – 50%, in my experience. 

If you’re a non-fiction author and earn your money from products and services on the back-end, you could have a 500% TACOS and still be profitable overall. 

It’s all going to depend on your business model and where you earn your money. 

Amazon Bestseller Rank and Organic Sales

One final important point to make here is the Amazon Bestseller Rank and Organic Sales

With each Sale (and Borrow in Kindle Unlimited) of your book, the Bestseller Rank of that book improves. 

And the better your Bestseller Rank, the more Amazon is going to push your book themselves, through several different means such as emails to their customers and various placements across their website. 

All the sales that come from anywhere other than Ads or any other marketing you’re doing are classed as Organic Sales

And when your books are ranking well (think Top 10,000 in the Bestseller Rank), you’ll find the majority of your Sales and Borrows are Organic. And that’s great, that’s exactly what you’re aiming for!

You want to sell enough books through your Amazon Ads (and other marketing efforts) for Amazon to take notice and start marketing your book for you. 

And the more sales you make (whether through Ads, other marketing channels, or organic means) will improve the performance of your Amazon Ads because the Amazon Ads algorithm takes the sales history of a book into account when determining where and when to show your Ads, as well as how much you pay for a click on that Ad.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this step-by-step guide and blueprint to launching your first Amazon Ads. 

Of course, over time, you can add more campaigns, and test more ideas, but if you’re short on time, want to learn the Amazon Ads platform and start generating sales quickly (typically, within the next 30 days), this blueprint we’ve been through together here will help. 

If you want to learn more about Amazon Ads (and access my Amazon Ads Toolkit that is being used by authors around the world), my daily-ish Amazon Ads newsletter for authors, The Morning ACOS, is here to help. I share Amazon Ads strategies, insights, tactics, and case studies each day to help you get better results from your Amazon Ads.
And you can find out more about me and how I help Authors with Amazon Ads over on my website: www.matthewjholmes.com.



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