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Top 9 reasons why your Amazon Ads aren’t working

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

We’ve all been there. We set up a campaign, with a few hundred targets. Budgets set. Bidding is decided upon. Book’s got reviews. Now we just sit back and wait for Amazon to start selling our book for us………


Nothing. Maybe a few thousand impressions, one or two clicks, but no sales. Maybe no one's explained to you the importance of your ACOS?


Why? How could your book, that you know is worth its weight in gold, not be selling with Amazon ads?


Top 9 reasons why your Amazon Ads aren’t working:

  1. Not enough keyword targets

  2. Not using category targeting

  3. Not using ASIN targeting

  4. Not enough book reviews

  5. Too many conflicting campaigns

  6. Not utilizing search term data

  7. Not adding new targets monthly

  8. Not letting your ads run long enough

  9. Not enough bid strategies used



1. Not enough Keyword Targets

There is no amount of keywords that are the “Perfect amount of keywords”. But if you’re only targeting <1000 keywords and it’s been a month with no sales. It is time for you to up that number. I usually start my authors off with a minimum of 10k keywords. Some can get away with less but when you’re starting out it’s imperative that you’re casting somewhat of a wide net so you can let Amazon’s Algorithm figure out what’s relevant. If you only give it a few hundred targets at a cheap bid price, the odds aren’t in your favor. You don’t need this many keywords forever but when you’re starting out, it’s useful to cast a wide net. We’ll expand on this further on number 6. Some tools you can use to get more keywords: Publisher Rocket, your imagination/google, pulling titles that show up in your categories are just 3 examples. I will do another blog with how to pull effective keywords.


publisher rocket for authors

2. Not using category targeting

I love product targeting. I think it is still vastly underutilized on the Amazon Ads platform. Half of my accounts have this tool to thank for a majority of sales. I’ll discuss category targeting here and ASIN targeting in number 3. Both are components of “Product targeting”. Amazon gives you a list of all the categories on their platform. I’ve tried categories in other areas than books and Amazon doesn’t show my ads for them so I would just stick to the books category and subcategories. Here you can continue to drill down into subcategories and subcategories of those subcategories to find types of books that your audience is probably interested in. I’m a big fan of going deep into obscure and very specific categories that have the lowest suggested bids. These usually mean the least amount of competition. Your book with then show up on the product pages of other books in that category if Amazon deems them relevant.


Category targeting - Amazon Advertising

3. Not using ASIN targeting

I really only recently started doing ASIN targeting. It has the same effect as above in terms of your ad showing up on the product pages of other books. ASIN targeting seems to be even more underutilized because it takes work. Create a system where you’re constantly targeting new ASIN’s that come out on your topic. You can literally steal sales from your competitors. Even though I’ve just begun with these I find that the ACOS also seems to hover below 20% so they don’t just make sales, they make profitable sales.


ASIN targeting - Amazon Advertising

4. Not enough book reviews

More reviews can only help. Having more reviews is social proof that your book is being enjoyed by real people. I don’t know exactly how much weight Amazon puts on sales/book reviews but books that have more reviews tend to do better. Be careful though, Amazon is very strict with who can review a book. I would not recommend any service that offers reviews for money.



5. Too many conflicting campaigns

If you’re targeting the same words in multiple campaigns, this will confuse you as to what’s really working and what’s not. If you have 3 campaigns running with the same keywords and each one has one sale, this may not look statistically significant for you to act on. When your targeting is precise and non-overlapping you’d see that it’s the same word in all 3 campaigns that sold a copy meaning you’ve found a great converting keyword.


6. Not utilizing search term data

Amazon provides you with the exact search terms and phrases that customers used to search when they clicked on your ad. This is Amazon providing you with real-time data about what people are searching for that your book might be relevant to. If you’re not taking these terms and retargeting, you are missing out on a lot of potential customers. Pro tip: Organize any search terms that converted to sales into an exact match campaign, negatively target the word in all other campaigns. Then use a broad and phrase match campaign to target those search terms again to see if Amazon can now use those (possibly more relevant) words to find more keywords. Use negative targeting for those words as an exact match so that you’re not conflicting with your campaigns.


Top 9 reasons your Amazon Ads aren't working

7. Not adding new targets

If your books are not selling or getting clicks, you need to try some new keywords. Back to the drawing board, get creative, use one of the hundreds of tools out there, and dig up some new keywords to try out. Maybe try some more abstract words. You never know what your ideal customer might be searching for. Don’t limit yourself to the 100 most relevant keywords to your book because odds are, those are the most competitive and most expensive.


8. Not letting your ads run long enough

I am SO guilty of this. I log on almost every day to check clients campaigns and I sit around biting my nails over the fact that I’m not seeing results in 24 hours. (Well maybe not this extreme) but I do cause myself an unruly amount of stress worrying about the fact that I’m not seeing results within a few days of campaign creation. These ads need time for Amazon to score and rank internally and as the campaign starts to get clicks, and Amazon sees that the CTR is high, the campaign should start to do better and better. All you have to do to fix this one….is nothing. Don’t look at your campaigns for 2-4 (emphasis on 4) weeks before making any changes. I can confirm that most campaigns I set up don’t start to really perform well until a month in.


9. Bidding

Sometimes you need to jumpstart a book. I’ve always been a fan of sniffing out the cheapest keywords to create sales but honestly, sometimes a 1.01(or suggested bid +1¢ auto bid campaign does the trick at a reasonable ACOS. I usually refer to this one as a last resort but when it doubt, and without sales, raise your bids. At the very least you should start to get some clicks which Amazon feeds back to you as search terms that can help you get relevant keywords fast. Just make sure you’ve got your daily budget set where you want it to avoid running up a huge tab.



  1. That’s it - try the above 9 steps if your Amazon Ads aren’t converting. Also make sure your auto campaigns are set up correctly. Comment below what works best for you or if you have any other favorite tricks to jumpstart your campaigns. If none of the above work, you may also want to try Common Word Targeting. I cover all of my best practices/Amazon Advertising Treatments in my new 2021 Advanced Amazon Ads Author Masterclass.


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