A Short Guide to Amazon’s Pay Per Click Advertising for KDP

Kindle AdI ran an ad campaign since the beginning of the month on Amazon. Here's what I learned.

  • Amazon's ad campaigns take DAYS after approval to actually start serving impressions. Give it time. It took me 4 days.
  • My sales rank was in the 20k-30k range, some all time highs for this book. I did not see that volume in sales, which indicates to me that the majority of engagement came through borrows. (People can borrow through their kindles)
  • Amazon's reporting is Horrible. To the point that it's nearly impossible to judge the success of a campaign. You get impressions, clicks, spend, and sales but the data is not broken down by day and there may be up to three day lag before a sale ends up in the report.
  • They don't do any calculations. There's basic stuff like conversion rate or click through. To calculate conversion % you have to divide the total sales by the royalty for the book and divide that by the number of clicks.
  • Borrow activity (KENP) does not show up in the sales data at all. But based on my sales rank, I know for a fact that it's there.

Use Case

I'm promoting a $4.99 title by interest (Science Fiction & Fantasy: Adventure, Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery) at ten cents per click. Run time 8/1-8/15. 

I'm a debut author with no broad following or name recognition.

Why ten cents? Well because I didn't know that it would take four-five days to start seeing activity. More on pricing below.


I had immediate good performance and strong sales rank (for me, anyway) throughout the early part of the campaign. Here I measured click through (How many people clicked on an ad), conversion (how many people bought an ad) and net profit %.


Note: These are the aggregate rankings on each day, not the daily activity. Sample: 40k impressions 470 clicks


Click Through: This number was the most solid and predictable of the three. It started at 1.7% and ended at 1.2%, steadily declining day over day. This tells me that my ads hit a point of saturation quickly and the quality of leads diminished over time as people became inured to the ads.

Conversion Rate: I averaged about 3%. This also went down with the click through. Again I suspect the window for quality leads closes pretty quickly, especially if impressions are served multiple times. (i.e. if I didn't buy it the first time I'm not going to buy it). On my best day I converted at 5%, other days I had zero sales. Again the data was delayed so it's impossible to say which number is accurate save for the aggregate.

Net Profit: Based on the hard number of books sold I spent 6 dollars on my campaign. However... there were definitely borrows. With the KENP payouts I will never, ever know how many pages read over the coming months-years how many of those were from this campaign. I do feel confident the campaign has been slightly profitable when factoring those in.

Cost Per Click

Toward the end I lowered my bid to five cents and still got impressions. At that point however I wasn't getting sales. If I started at five I would have seen 50% profits. Since I was curious I put together a CPC matrix based on book price.

If you expect to sell 5 books for every hundred clicks at 2.99, then a ten cent CPC is your break even point. (I would add 5% conversion seems pretty optimistic for an ad) .If you want to make 50% ROI then you need to cut the numbers in the table below in half.

I've highlighted where my title sits in the chart below.

CPC Bids


Amazon PPC ads can be a tool for modest success with the right inputs. Bidding as low as possible seems like a safe strategy.

They set a minimum budget of $100. It's difficult to see spending all of this (at least in the sci fi/ fantasy interest bucket). So this was not a scaleable solution for me. It would take months to spend $1000 and even at 50% profit... it's not a money machine.

I would use it again to goose my sales rank or lead people to a particular title. It paid for itself, mostly and got me exposure.

Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)

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