Amazon | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

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I was recently invited to participate in a survey by Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). I was writing up the part where it said, “do you have any suggestions to make?” when it occurred to me that my suggestions would also be useful as a summary of my experience using the service.

So, how has AMS worked out for me so far?

Let me be clear about something: I love AMS and the best part of my advertising buck goes there nowadays, as AMS offers me the best return on my investment (ROI) of any advertising medium I’ve tried out so far (and, trust me, I’ve tried them all). For every $100 I spend, I make almost $200. So yes, AMS is at the top of my marketing efforts.

AMS Reporting Blues

Book Report | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book

Reporting done right

However, AMS is still in dire need of better reporting. As I was explaining in my post, Don’t Advertise With Amazon Until You’ve Read This, the difference between reported sales and actual ones, as reported by KDP, is ridiculous. In my experience, no more than 60% of reported sales are actual ones. At the same time, campaigns that report no sales, do have actual ones, which adds to the confusion.

Dating in reports is another helpful tool that’s currently missing. I’d love to see how a campaign has performed during a specific time frame (say, since I last updated its keywords). I currently use the life-saving Machette app for this, but it would be great if AMS supported it natively.

Speaking of reporting, you can’t beat Book Report for ease-of-use and clarity. Like ReaderLinks before it, Book Report now has a new mode of operating, which lets you keep a browser window open at all times with your sales constantly updated–not in terms of units, but in terms of $$$. Selecting a time period is a breeze, as is choosing one of your books. KDP doesn’t even come close to that level of functionality and friendliness.

Once reporting problems are solved and guesswork is removed from our ads, AMS usefulness will increase exponentially. And scaling up, which so far has turned out to be the hardest part of using AMS, will be much, much easier.

Campaign Duplication

Also, it would be great if there was a better way to duplicate campaigns. For example, I’d love for my paused keywords to remain paused. Copying a campaign should mean that all of its properties are carried across the new one. Right now, you need to redo so much work that it’s actually faster if you simply start from scratch–at least when you edit your campaigns as much as I do.

Improved Targeting

It would be great if we could target readers more accurately. Facebook has the best targeting tool in the trade (no doubt because it knows so much about us), but Amazon also has a treasure trove of customer data. They know what interests each and every one of us. So, why are my interest options when setting up a campaign so limited? Why are there no demographic options? I know my audience. I just need AMS to let me reach it.

International Markets

A couple of days after I submitted the above, I had a lightbulb moment, thanks to a conversation I had: AMS is different for each of Amazon’s marketplaces. In other words, if you go to ams.amazon.com, you are only advertising in the US. To advertise in, say, the UK, you need to go to ams.amazon.co.uk. However, when I tried Australia and Canada, I saw no AMS was supported there (at least, not for authors), so how about Amazon opens up those marketplaces as well?

Anyway, if you haven’t tried out AMS, please don’t mistake the above for a gripe list. As I said, AMS is the best advertising tool on the market and I use it on a daily basis. I doubt I could get half as many sales for my books without it. And I’m grateful to Amazon for opening up both the publishing door and the marketing one to Indies. So, let’s file all that under “room for improvement,” shall we?

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