KDP Advertising: the Category Ad

This is part 2 of the “Starting Amazon KDP Advertising” series, where I start ads for my book “Funny You Should Ask:  How to Market a Book.”  I did this because I was starting the ads anyway and I thought it might be fun for you to see a real-life example of how paid advertising works.  This is my personal advertising strategy, and you can adapt it to your own budget and the amount of research (keywords, categories, competitors) you have done.

Today we’re going to start a category ad.    I’m not crazy about this type of ad because I have never had great success with them and I don’t actually think people find books by searching categories, but I will run one of these ads as part of a “comprehensive” ad strategy when I launch a book. To get to the category ad section, you just need to follow the exact same path I used in this post to get to the “Manual Targeting” section.  If you read that post, you’ll already know that I am extremely “anti-automated targeting,” meaning I think automated targeting is just a way for Amazon to steal your money.

Here’s where we’re starting today:  go to Manual Targeting, then choose “Product targeting.”  That looks like this:

As it says, the Product targeting section lets you create ads so your book appears in searches related to categories, brands, or other product features.  We’re focusing on categories right now and we’ll cover the other stuff in future posts.  One thing at a time, people!

Here’s what you see when you choose the “Categories” section:

Just like in the manual keyword strategy, I have switched the bid to “Custom bid,” where I will start it at $.10 per click (that’s TEN CENTS, not ten dollars).    Be sure to catch this or Amazon will be more than happy to charge you whatever “suggested bid” they want (you can see what they are thinking under “Sugg. bid”).  I can’t imagine why they think a rando category like “Authorship” deserves $1.13 per click, and I am not really in the mood to find out.

Their category targeting for this book was actually pretty right on, and I ended up taking 5 out of the 6 suggestions.   I then switched over to the “Search” tab and went looking for some other good categories.  I used Publisher Rocket (which I highly recommend for self-published authors) to pick the initial categories for this book, and I added those to the ad buy.   Publisher Rocket also has a great “AMS Keywords” tab, and I will get to that when I start my “Product” ad in the next post.

I will caution you, as with all things Amazon, do not just click “Add all.”  Amazon has a habit of going super duper random with their suggestions, but putting those suggestions at the very bottom so you don’t see them.

Here’s what I mean by that:


Yes, you’re reading that right.  Amazon would love it if I would pay to advertise my book about book marketing in the following categories:  “Female Urinals, Detail Sander Paper, and Retail Mannequins.”

I’m not saying unequivocally that there is zero overlap between people who buy retail mannequins and people who self-publish books and need to learn how to market them properly, but I bet they are not thinking about these two things at the same time, so I’m guessing I would not make any sales by using those categories.

Maybe I’m just cynical.

Exactly like the “Manual Keywords” ad, I switched the “Campaign bidding strategy” to the more favorable (for me) choice of “Dynamic Bids, down only.”  I then named the ad, set the budget for $5.00/ day, and set the time limit for two weeks.  Here are the final settings of my category ad, right before I hit the blue “Launch Campaign” button and wait for the ad to be moderated and approved.

Check back here to see if this category ad made any sales!



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