Fun With Ads: Harems, Romance, and Space Marines

I’ve been messing around with Amazon’s advertising systems this week. It is, indeed, interesting stuff! You can create a ‘campaign’ and then have it target certain keywords that users search for. Such as ‘science fiction,’ ‘cosmic horror,’ or ‘BEST BOOKS EVER.’

Then, when a customer searches using those terms and finds a product, your ad can just plop right onto that page! Provided you can win the bid, of course. Every popular keyword has a bidding range. But you’re not charged unless someone actually clicks on the ad.

So I created a campaign and plugged in 195 keywords and phrases. Every time someone clicked an ad those keywords popped up on a chart along with the COMPLETE phrase that the customer typed in. At the end of the week I had a long list of keywords:

On the left are the phrases that people typed in. On the right are the keywords I told Amazon to place ads in. No personal information is given to me, so don’t worry, Alex Jones. Your identity is safe from me.

Now, this information helps me find out the sorts of things that customers like to type into the search box. I can then use this in-depth knowledge to add in MORE keywords that I know customers like to use.

I can also tell the campaign to IGNORE certain keywords. Like, see there? 4th from the top? “Harem fantasy for men?” Those harem-loving men aren’t going to find much of that in Abandonment Party, so I put ‘harem’ on the ‘negative targeting’ list so that it won’t connect any of my ads to that keyword. I also told it to ignore stuff like ‘listen’ since there’s no audio version of my book. Words are meant to be seen, not heard! 🤐

And space marines. Finally got rid of those.

You might also be able to tell from the keywords that there’s a program called ‘Kindle Unlimited.’ I think users pay a subscription to download participating books for free. Whatever. I signed up Abandonment Party because I saw there was this cool mechanic where I’m paid when the reader reads pages. Not only that, but the number of pages read shows up on these marketing charts!

Second from the bottom, see that? The person that typed in ‘post-apocalyptic romance’ got my book on Kindle Unlimited. And at the end of the chart (not pictured) I can see that they’ve read 52 pages so far! Zounds! Please leave a review when you’re done, whoever you are! And come here to see me! I’d love to talk about the book with you. Or, uh, the 52 pages you read anyway. 😅

I have learned one final thing from this week: people don’t want to buy an ebook with only 2 user reviews. Even if they’re BOTH five stars! But how do I get more reviews? I went and asked numerous ‘indie review’ sites, but NONE of them replied. When I tried to ask members of my own family they acted as if I were demanding that they chop off their limbs with rusty hacksaws. ‘READ!? But I have to watch these reruns of Quantum Leap!’

What is a boy to do?

Then I realized—the keywords have the answer! There are many customers typing in ‘free books’ all the time. There is also a button on my direct publishing page that says ‘Create a new Free Book Promotion.’

So I came up with a cunning plan:

  1. Make Abandonment Party free for five days!
  2. Crank up the advertising budget per day to $300!
  3. Wave goodbye to my U.S. Government stimulus check!
  4. With at least 1,500 people downloading the book, surely they will all read it, review it, and award me the Pulitzer Prize!

In the words of Chucky from Cult of Chucky: “Sometimes I scare myself.”

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