What am I not getting? Book marketing through context ads

Okay, all you schmott guys: this is not going to be about me going on about something – this is going to be about YOU going on about something.

me: You know what I’m curious about in terms of book-marketing money spent?
Kate: what’s that?
me: Google ads.
Kate: what about them?
me: For Instance, the ‘related sites’ stuff that shows up alongside GMail and on websites and stuff.

They don’t cost much, relative to whatever, and lots of people embed them on websites, plus Gmail and Google search pages, it seems like the kind of thing that would be a no-brainer for people to do.

You’d need someone skilled doing the keywords for the ads, so that you’re showing up alongside the right searches, obviously, but it just seems like a good idea.

Related to that: Facebook ads; which is somewhere I actually do see book ads.

I almost never see them in Google ads though, which is WEIRD.

I have to assume people just… don’t do them for books, because if they did… the kind of emails I send and receive would call up book-related ads… or game products… whatever. Something.

I mean, I’m exchanging emails with a guy about his story, so it’s all about writing and characters and motivation and the genre the thing is set in… and the “related” Google ads alongside are… “Document management”, “Google TV ads”, “Convert PDFs to Word”… a Talking Smartpen, and “Google Docs Backup”.

Kate: I see a lot of ads from print-on-demands houses, and editorial services and such in Facebook, but no, not really for books themselves.

me: It feels like an marketing blindspot. Especially when many avid readers are also writers and talk about such things in email.

Right, so… what am I missing, people?

Someone has to know more than me about this.
Someone has to know more about this than I do.
  • Why is this not happening? Am I the only one not seeing ads for new books showing up in Google ads, or are people simply not doing them?
  • If so, why?
  • Is it so complicated as to make it a bad idea? What’s the cost outlay to set it up? How much tweaking do you have to do to get your “Product” showing up alongside things to which it’s related.
  • Has anyone out there done this sort of stuff as part of their day job? Facebook ads, Google ads… whatever. I don’t care, I just want to learn.

9 Replies to “What am I not getting? Book marketing through context ads”

  1. Consumer books are too inexpensive to pay for PPC ads. You’d spend $30 in ads to get a $10 sale. You might be able to justify it if a customer is worth $75/lifetime. But unless the book you’re selling is a business book at $75, forget it.

    1. I’m not sure I’m understanding the nuances here. The goal, ideally, would be product placement. “You’re talking in GMail about [topic related to my book]? Well, here’s a link to the book’s page on Amazon!” Is that pay-per-click? Is that the option I should be investigating to learn more?

  2. My two cents (as an editor who used to be a book marketer)? I always think of there being 2 levels of book marketing. First is to the trade–the bookstores (& other accounts) to which publishers are actually selling their wares–so the money gets spent in ways the average consumer never sees. This is is done is so many different ways, from white box mailings to co-op to booth space and giveaways at conferences just to rattle off a few, but it’s not google or facebook ads b/c they’re not aiming at the general public as their primary audience yet. Once a book is at a certain level of public awareness, more consumer-focused marketing gets done, both by publishers and bookstores–but by then it’s usually much bigger things than facebook/google ads–publicity tours and website building and print ads & etc. So that micro-level of consumer-focused marketing probably does get a little overlooked. Also to consider: who would advertise (publishers? chain bookstores? indies? authors themselves?), and where would the ads drive?

  3. I think it’s interesting that, in publishing, targeted Google Ads are considered ‘smaller’ than things like web pages or publicity tours, simply because without something driving people to the website, it’s a ghosttown, and unless people are already following your exploits, they won’t know about your press junket… websites can be used in conjunction with social networking to build your “First, Ten” and so forth, and it’s valuable, but financially it is (at least for me) something with no associated cost.

    Google or Facebook ads, or any other kind of context-sensitive ads go after NEW people in a way unlike almost any other marketing I can think of — I mean, the idea that an ad can pop up in someone’s Inbox (where, for all intents and purposes, most people practically LIVE) is, for me, like being able to drop fliers on the kitchen counter in front of someone while they’re talking with a friend about what book to buy next.

    Who would buy the ad? Well, I’m a cynic – I don’t think publishing will actually realize the usefulness of this kind of targeted, context-relevant advertising until the heat death of the universe for years, so in my head, it would probably be me footing the bill, driving traffic to a “books and background” page on my site, with links from there to Amazon.

    Or something. I don’t know. I don’t think I’m THAT smart, so it puzzles me that no one outside of maybe a handful of authors seem to be doing this right now.

  4. Now, see… this is what my husband does for my little random ebook full of teacher handouts… and it works awesome. He runs ad campaigns for several businesses.. so running my internet ad campaign is just a bonus for him. I think there are a couple of reasons…

    first… a lot of people still don’t see the value of a well placed and thought out ad campaign. Here’s what most marketers think… here you have my super hero book… they go and buy the expensive keywords… book, super hero, etc.

    But it needs to be approached the same way as the smart internet guys and marketing gurus do it… specific keyword approaches and things like that.

    I really think the problem is that the book industry is often so far behind in the digital age that they just aren’t targeting that audience the way they should be. Also, a lot of times people use those sorts of keywords to advertise their own stores and sites and such… How much does someone make per book? Like, if I sold my ebook… I make the entire 24.95 so it wouldn’t hurt me all that much to pay 2 dollars for a click… but if I am only making 1.29 a book… that obviously doesn’t make that much sense… other than the whole recognition of my book thing.

    Again the key there is going to be SPECIFIC keywords and very targeted audiences. That’s the way a book campaign would have to make money, because paying .04 a click is still going to yield a profit.

    Dang I wrote a novel! sorry :)

  5. Hey Doyce, I did look at this for my book “How to Enjoy Your Job” but the niche was basically business people who were unhappy at work. In terms of the Google adwords relating – they were too expensive for the potential return. If you only make $2 per book, then you need to get a VERY good click through rate, like 25% , which is unlikely.
    I had a much better response with Facebook Ads which I used to market my free How to be an author workbook – I got an excellent clickthrough rate and signup % but I was just building my list so the workbook was free. FB ads are cheaper than Google ads and much more targeted. I am going to try it again with the author 2.0 program! so will let you know about that!
    I would say that Google Adwords is pretty expensive in general these days unless you have a very small niche with long tail associated keywords.
    Have fun! Joanna

  6. Jamie and Joanna: thanks for your comments – you both gave me some great information.

    Jamie, I had NO idea that certain words were more expensive to buy than others — that’s really interesting and explains a lot. I’m now really curious about what the pricing scheme is — is there some kind of magic pricing dictionary somewhere, or do you just start the sign-up process and then figure out from there what the words you want would cost you?

    (Complete side note: even self-publishing, the author doesn’t make anywhere near 100% of the price of a POD book. More than the typical royalty scheme, if it’s priced comparably to other books, but not as much as you’d think. It certainly surprised ME.)

    I suppose what I’m understanding is that trying to buy up keywords like “demon, clown, dragon, midwest magic” would put me in the poor house. The questions then becomes “what’s affordable, but still effective?”

    Joanna, your notes about Facebook are VERY well made. Innnnnteresting.

  7. Google ads can cost you a LOT of money.

    I research this (re: check to make sure the pay scale hasn’t changed) for work every few months.

    Take horse for example ( I maintain a horse camp website for work).

    For google it’s a bidding process. You put in what you are willing to pay per click per day. But if the next yahoo is going pay more than you then they will be bumped up.

    People are paying 10’s of thousands for the word horse PER DAY.

    Now google has tools for you to look at words, how many people are using that word or phrase and the average people are paying.

    Example: JCC Denver isn’t being used by anyone so at first glance it looks like a good use of advertising dollars….but take a look at jewish website and you don’t see them using google ads on their pages.

    type in jcc denver in google and we come up first.

    Suddenly it’s a waste of money.

    Frankly I’m a SEO naysayer. Put content on your website, real content and folks are gonna find it. Localize it and people will find it faster. Get stats for your website (you are using wordpress stats right?) and you can see where they come from and what they are searching for.

    Everything else is money or fluff. And trying to trick search engines who constantly change criteria is a fool’s errand.

    Doyce go to google.com and click on advertise…you can pick words and use their price tracker to find out all you want.

  8. I don’t know if we’re still talking about this or not… but… go sign up for a goolgle ads campaign… it’s totally free, and set your budget at like two bucks a day or whatever and try it out. It’s more that you pay for your placement of certain keywords..

    Example… you could pay for .02 clicks on ‘magic’ but your ad would NEVER get seen… it would be at the bottom of a list of like 900 ads. But the key is specific.

    Like earlier I was talking about my handout ebook I made… if I tried to use the keyword ‘teaching’ then it would cost me like 15 bucks a click to be on the top page of google, or appear in a gmail account. Now if I were to buy the keyword ‘teaching kindergartners to write’ Chances are I am the only one who bought that… so I can spend less. The thing is this… it’s all about playing with and adjusting the keywords to get your cost/benefit ratio to add up.

    When we start running a new ad campaign we fiddle with it daily until we find the right keywords (you can use more than one per ad) to fit what we’re selling.

    Oh, and here’s a pro tip (Man I love when I get to use pro tip in a sentence haha) use the misspellings of commonly misspelled words… like I would use teaching kindergarteners to write, teaching kindergardeners to write, etc. in my ad campaign. Just because they aren’t spelled correctly doesn’t mean people aren’t searching for them!

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