BookBub Ads Experiments Continue

First test ad

First test ad

When last we met our hero, the BookBub gatekeepers had smote his attempts at a featured ad, and he was trying BookBub ads as a backdoor to get into the email boxes of all those potential readers. (I had to look up the past perfect of smite for that—it’s had smote—who knew?) I now have a little more data, and some preliminary conclusions.

The first thing to note is that there isn’t just one BookBub advertising market. Assuming you target by genre (and not by author, which seems insanely hard), I would expect the going CPM rate (the amount you pay for 1000 impressions of your ad) to be wildly different, depending on which genre you choose. My numbers are for Erotic Romance.

The next variable is targeting. I’m targeting people who signed up to see Amazon books in US, UK, and Canada, because I’ve never had a Twitter ad work in any other market, so I figure I should stick to the markets I can compare to Twitter.

After that is the variable of conversion rate, which is a function of your price, and of how good your blurb and reviews are. Yours might be better than mine, or it might be worse. But the important thing is that it’s not the same as mine.

So the bottom line is that these results apply only to me. You can use them as a benchmark, or to help you shape your own experiments, but you must not assume your results would be anything like mine, because I can pretty much guarantee they won’t be.

Okay, so that said, I ran a $30 campaign Friday through Sunday. I paid $2.30 CPM, which works out to 13,000 impressions. Remember that we are a little skeptical about whether an impression is really an impression, since opening the email will count as one, even if the person does not scroll down to view the ad.

My initial test ad got a click-through-rate (CTR) of 0.7% which is almost identical to the CTR I get on Twitter. However, that was either a total fluke, or it was due to the fact that I left India and Australia in that first test. Regardless, with proper targeting of US/UK/CA, I’m getting a CTR of just 0.45%. That means my $30 bought me 56 clicks on my ad.

My conversion rate was really good: 7.1% (in other words, 4 of those 56 clicks turned into sales; 2 UK, 1 US, 1 CA). At the $2.99 price point, I’d expect about 5% with Twitter ads targeted at the same geography, and people who follow popular romance authors. However, the last big Twitter ad campaign I ran got much lower conversion of about 2.5%. Also, my Twitter campaigns included some Kindle Unlimited read-throughs, and I’ve since dropped out of KDP Select, so we are only looking at straight ebook sales here. So the bottom line is that BookBub ads are kicking Twitter ads ass in conversion rate. These people are buyers. A low conversion rate is also a sign of click fraud, so this high conversion rate is an indication that BookBub is trustworthy.

Unfortunately, you put all those numbers together and they kind of suck. $30 in advertising sold 4 books, resulting in $7.72 in my pocket.

I can’t get impressions with a lower bid, so I’m stuck with the CPM of about $2.25. That means to break even, I need either a higher click-through-rate (CTR) or a better conversion rate. A better conversion rate is not happening, since this conversion rate is already awesome. So we need a higher CTR. How much higher? A lot higher. I need the CTR to be 1.67% just to break even. It’s 0.45% now. It needs to be 4 times as good.

I ran an experiment today to tackle the low-hanging-fruit. The creative I was using was blurry, because BookBub beats the crap out of ads in JPG compression. So I tried re-creating the ad in photoshop and uploading a nice PNG. I’m sure they converted it to JPG before they served it, but I don’t have any way to see what they are actually serving. (I’ve asked them to fix that, because that’s kind of bonkers.) Anyway, the campaign ran all day with the cleaned-up ad you see at the top of this post and my conversion rate is… drumroll please… the same. Actually slightly lower 0.38%. Sigh.

There aren’t a lot of things I can play with to get the CTR higher. I can try to improve that ad (any ideas?). I can try putting “SALE” on there, but that’s prone to drive up CTR at the expense of conversion, since $2.99 isn’t a compelling sale price.

I can try targeting just the UK, since I’ve typically gotten better numbers there than in the US. I think maybe they like the flowers on the cover.

I can try targeting iBook users instead of Amazon. However, I just got on iBooks and I have no reviews there, so I suspect my conversion rate would suck there. It’s still worth a $10 experiment, of course.

My mission now is to improve my CTR. I’m going to try a bunch of different things and then I’ll report back. Stay tuned!!!

5 thoughts on “BookBub Ads Experiments Continue

    • It’s not looking promising. I can’t get a low enough CPM or a high enough CTR to make these BookBub ads work for selling books. I’m doing a Twitter campaign right now to get some comparison data for the current ad market. Then I’ll write another update post, comparing BookBub to Twitter. Spoiler alert: BookBub is getting its ass kicked.

  1. “…smote his ruin upon the mountain side.” From Lord of the Rings, probably the only other place I’ve seen “smote.”
    Great info here, especially for a guy whose brain freezes over whenever more than two numbers appear in a paragraph.

  2. Ah, the games Book Bub plays. I think Book Bub is a bit of a scam. I think they make it convoluted on purpose. I find playing Book Bub contortionist games on my ad exhausting such as what you describe. I now use something far more straight forward called just buy a danm ad on a popular alternative which for me right now is Book Gorilla. My ad did well there. I am researching others. Buh bye Book Bub. (My results were nearly the same as yours. $25 campaign. Sold four books. Nevermind. Moving on).

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