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Which is it: Amazon Ads or Facebook Ads?

19 April 2017

From author and TPV regular John Ellsworth:

In reflecting further, it becomes clear to me that the possibility of having my book discovered (albeit maybe not purchased) is much higher in terms of permutations on the Facebook platform than on Amazon ads. With Amazon ads I might choose 2000 keywords to bring up my book. With Facebook I have literally millions of possible sorts (database sorts) that I can create and try with a few simple clicks. For example, I can choose an audience of a certain age, a certain gender, a certain country, with certain interests, with other interests that further include or exclude and etc. ad nauseam. The truth telling, though, comes in the intent of the viewer. With Amazon ads, we can probably presume the viewer is there predisposed to buying a book. But on FB we can’t assume any such thing.

. . . .

Knowing what little I do know about SEO, it can probably be stated that discoverability on Amazon will only happen on the first three pages of ads. After that they fall off tremendously. So discoverability on Amazon depends on being on page one to three of the sponsored ad search results while discoverability on Facebook, while maybe higher because of the defined database sorts Facebook can make, is very achievable but the intent of the viewer will probably be very different (who do you know who goes on FB to buy a book?) than the presumed intent of the Amazon viewer.

. . . .

Amazon, in truly Amazon fashion, is extremely stingy with the data I need to make a business-like choice about advertising. FB, on the other hand, gladly provides me with probably more data than I know how to use, all of which is modifiable in the tabular displays that allow me to choose lots of different variables.

Link to the rest at John Ellsworth

Here’s a link to John Ellsworth’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.


17 Comments to “Which is it: Amazon Ads or Facebook Ads?”

  1. Barbara Morgenroth

    Facebook ads are quite expensive but they reach people who may be interested in your thing but not necessarily know who the heck you are or are thinking about spending $. Amazon ads are supercheap because you pay by click and people don’t click very often. But at least you’re seen by people who are there to buy books.

    Either way, in my experience, nothing to get very excited about although I have about 6 Amazon ads running now.

  2. Why choose? I do both of those things, plus Bookbub and anything else I think will work. It’s not either or.

    • Why? If you don’t mind being on page 39 of 39 pages of sponsored books on one of my book pages–as I’ve seen lately–I suppose it’s nothing to concern yourself with. But if you, like me, don’t relish the idea of your advertisement showing up on that 39th page along with eight others on that 39th page, then maybe it is something to concern oneself with. That, and the fact that AMS gives absolutely no real-time or nearly real-time data that allows the advertiser to make a rational choice about the efficacy of bid selections and bid values. The paradigm tends to make me shy away from AMS ads. But not completely. I still run them but feel like I’m shooting in the dark. If you have a found or developed a methodology to overcome these negatives then by all means please share. I’m all ears and this forum can serve as an excellent teaching forum.

      • Doesn’t seem like there is any point in worrying about whether your ad is on the 39th page or the 11th page.

        Either the ads are selling books or they aren’t. And either the ads cost more than the profits from the sales, or they don’t.

        Amazon makes it extremely easy to run ads, a pretty nice variety of them, and gives you the critical data. (Sales, cost.) I also notice they seem to help KU reads (which they don’t charge you for).

        Would it be nice to have more data? I guess. But I also guess you could just torture yourself trying to figure out what it means and in the end it probably wouldn’t make much difference. You probably would get better results tinkering with your ad copy over and over.

        I have no experience with Facebook ads, so I can’t really comment about them. I certainly haven’t heard much about them working to increase sales. (Though some do say they help build mailing lists.) My biggest problem with Facebook is I personally hate the interface and the entire philosophy of the company seems all smoke and mirrors. (Like having to pay to boost your profile among people who have already subscribed to your page.) I find the site incredibly cluttered and kind of ugly.

        What little success I’ve had so far with “discovery” comes from my own blog. And whenever I dip my toe into alternate advertising options (other than Amazon) I always come back to: write more and better blog posts. Or even better, write another book.

        • Yes! I haven’t tried any advertising at all, but I feel exactly the same way about Facebook /and/ my blog. Thank you for making me feel a bit more normal. 🙂

      • I really don’t understand where you’re getting the 39th page thing from (though I appreciate that you shared the information). Are you saying that Amazon doesn’t promise impressions or ad shares, and they are taking your money to not show the ads to anyone?

        I haven’t advertised on Amazon, but most places promise you a certain number of impressions. They are not putting your ads on the 39th page if they promise that–and ads are served dynamically, so they are not statically placed on the 39th page. They are actively served up on a page someone is viewing. It’s not like the old-school newspaper ads.

        I’m sorry–I don’t mean to sound obnoxious, but I am genuinely confused.

        • Amazon counts impressions but only charges for clicks. Clicks are relevant. You can tell if someone is interesting in your book based on your ad copy, but then for some reason doesn’t buy it after they click. (Is the book description not compelling? Or the inside read?)

          Impressions are pretty meaningless. There are complaints Amazon isn’t transparent about what they mean by impressions. (And perhaps that’s what Ellsworth is referring too, that they appear on 39th page.) But even if they appear on the first page, or Facebook does a better job in getting impressions, its pretty much been established over internet history that impressions are a really bad way to judge the success of any ad campaign. (Impression data can be easily manipulated to make it seem good.) Clicks and sales are really all that matter.

          • Ideally. But I’d rather be on an Amazon page for free than to pay $5 a day at FB.
            If we are to believe that a customer needs to hear or see something 6 times before they’re spurred to action, it’s cheaper to be seen at Amazon.

        • AMS ad campaigns that target product pages show your ad on those pages just below the buy buttons.

          AMS ad campaigns that target customer interests using categories (and keywords, I think) show up on search lists and in a long row of “sponsored” products under the also-boughts on a product page.

          So, if you are running an ad campaign targeted on interests/categories, then your book could show up on the 39th page of search or the 39th page of sponsored products.

          I’ve only run ads targeted on specific product pages, so I am not as familiar with the other type. It sounds as though Mr. Ellsworth usually runs interest/keyword targeted ads.

    • I’m probably the rare reader who never looks at sponsored stuff. I am more likely to on Facebook, although typically I say “stop showing me this” because facebook tends to show the same one over and over.

      In Amazon, I look at the also boughts but then I see that section below it with “these ones are sponsored” and my eyes glaze over.
      Even though it’s same genre, I’m just trained to avoid looking at ads.

      Same with Google. I always scroll to results below the sponsored links (at the top) even if the link would take me to the same site.
      I always see Ads as not relevant.

  3. I used to make money with Facebook ads. Now the clicks have become so expensive that it has become next to impossible given what I charge for my ebooks. And if I put an upper limit on clicks that might make me money, FB doesn’t serve my ads.

    I still make money with AMS ads. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all that counts.

  4. Facebook makes all its money off ads, so it’s not surprising they’ve done a good job. Amazon’s ad are a side gig for them. I have done Facebook ads (not for books), but found this confusing because I’ve seen ads for books on Facebook that appear on the pages as I’m browsing. The author seems to be talking about sponsored search results, and he also doesn’t really get how SEO works (although he makes a disclaimer about that).

    “So discoverability on Amazon depends on being on page one to three of the sponsored ad search results while discoverability on Facebook, while maybe higher because of the defined database sorts Facebook can make, is very achievable but the intent of the viewer will probably be very different (who do you know who goes on FB to buy a book?) than the presumed intent of the Amazon viewer.”

  5. Awhile back, PG posted an interview that Data Guy gave. In that interview, DG recommended an ads course. The folks that offer the ads course also have a Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/SPFsecretgroup/

    I joined it. It’s a super vibrant group with TONS of information about FB and AZ ads (along with other things).

    I feel it’s a good resource.

    • Hi Veronica,

      I was about to post that exact same link! Yes, SPF is a great resource for authors looking to up their game with advertising. I posted a link to this article in the SPF Community group.

      BTW PG, I came across THIS article via Twitter, so your social media is working!

  6. The buy-in cost at bid driven ad services increases sharply as the service becomes more popular and more people and people with deeper pockets — or who think they have deeper pockets — bid. The hottest thing quickly becomes the most expensive thing. The micro-optimization strategy you devise this morning will be obsolete by evening.

    Don’t stress about it. And don’t kill yourself trying to find the one best way.

  7. I sold books with Amazon ads, but never with FB

  8. John, you have written so many books, I (were I you) would run something different than a book cover. Just an all-text ad that says: “Who is John Ellsworth and why is he writing such good books?” or “Who is John Ellsworth and how did he write so many good books?” — then I’d have the link go to your author page on Amazon where all your books are listed. You could answer the question there, on your page, at length. Lots of people prefer series fiction. On your author page it’s clear you offer several series.

    By the way, I get many emails from Amazon featuring your books, plus on the home page when I sign into Amazon. You’re quite visible and have been for a long time. These messages alert me when it’s time to order another Ellsworth book.

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