Trying Amazon Lockscreen Ads

The last time I tried Amazon Ads it was a fiasco. But most of that was related to the book I was selling being filthy, and although Amazon loves to sell filthy things, they don’t so much want you to advertise filthy things. Seeing as my latest couple of books don’t have any sex in them at all, I figured it was time to give Amazon Ads another shot.

When I went to set up an ad, I was given a peculiar choice. In addition to the normal ads on, I could set up a “lockscreen ad” which would appear on people’s Kindle devices. After some blog searching, I learned that everyone advises against making these kinds of ads because they don’t think they work. And while that might be true, an under-utilized ad channel is prone to be a much more affordable ad channel. So I figured why not try it myself?

The setup was pretty simple. You target groups of readers, and come up with a very short tag line. Your ad is your cover with that tag line under it.

I set up three ads:

Ad 1: After being catfished by a reclusive millionaire, will Eileen be a pawn in his high-stakes game, or will she become his queen?

Ad 1 Targeting: Humor & Entertainment: Humor; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense: Mystery; Romance: Contemporary, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense.

The caption here is designed to pique the interest of romance readers.

Ad 2: A consortium of tech and finance companies has created a stable cryptocurrency. What could possibly go wrong?

Ad 2 Targeting: Business & Money: Accounting, Business Life, Economics, Entrepreneurship & Small Business, Finance, Industries, International, Investing, Job Hunting & Careers, Management & Leadership, Marketing & Sales, Personal Finance, Real Estate, Skills, Taxation, Women & Business; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense: Heist, Legal; Other: Computers & Technology.

The second ad is targeting business and technology readers. Those people are likely to know about Libra, which is an actual cryptocurrency proposed by a consortium of tech and finance companies (Facebook, in particular). It turns out that Libra is very similar to the fictional cyptocurrency in this novel. It shares the same key advantage (stability) which is simultaneously its key design flaw. (It just occurred to me that the cryptocurrency is following the super-villain trope that its key strength is also its key weakness.)

Ad 3: Between online dating and stopping a cryptocurrency-induced economic meltdown, Eileen’s life is about to get interesting.

Ad 3 Targeting: Business & Money: Economics, Finance, Investing, Taxation; Literature & Fiction: Action & Adventure, Contemporary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Literary Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense: Conspiracies, Legal; Romance: Romantic Suspense.

This ad is a shotgun approach, trying to hit a wide variety of kinds of readers with a fairly generic message.

With those ads defined, the next thing I had to do was pick a CPC (cost-per-click) bid. I started at 20¢. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • The Amazon Ads dashboard says “no data available” when you are getting zero impressions. I wasted a week waiting for the data to become available before I increased my bid, and then started getting data almost immediately.
  • You cannot get any impressions with a CPC bid below 50¢.
  • Click-through rates are quite low. So far, I’m seeing 1 click per 750 impressions. In contrast, my Twitter ads typically have a click-through-rate of 1% (1 click per 100 impressions). Twitter ads have 7.5 times the rate I’m getting on lockscreen ads.

Three weeks in, I have two clicks (so I’ve spent $1) and no sales from this channel. That’s not great, but also not terrible. And I like the idea of getting all those impressions for free. So I’ll leave these running awhile, and I’ll report back when I have more data.