Amazon Marketing Services Seems Useless for Free Promotions

I tried a little experiment with Amazon Marketing Services and Kindle Direct Publishing that yielded very unsatisfactory results.

Exactly one week ago on August 14, I set up my novella, Marduk's Mark, for a free Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP from here on out) promotion. Basically when you publish your book exclusively through Amazon, you can enroll them into the KDP program and one of the perks is that you can set your KDP books up for free promotional runs of up to 5 days per 90 day KDP period.

I wanted to reach many new readers so I decided to also run an advertising campaign using Amazon's own Amazon Marketing Services (AMS from here on out) for this time period. Seems easy enough: use their own tools to advertise a free book promotion period! At least I thought it was easy enough.

I set up the free KDP promotion and let them know that the promotion should start on Friday, August 11, 2017. I like to start up free promotional periods on Friday because of a book on Kindle advertising I read a while back. Sure, its information may be completely outdated by now, but old habits die hard. Once done with setting up the free promotion, I opened up the AMS link found within the KDP site (thus reiterating that these two services work together in my mind as they link to and from each other) and set up a Sponsored Products ad campaign that would run exactly through that promotional period, from August 11 through 15, stating that the novella would be free for a limited time. The very same period as the free book promotion. Makes sense if I want the promotion to read the most amount of people possible from within the very marketplace that the book is being offered and if I wanted those people to know that hey, it's free! I thought I was being pretty smart about it all as I even gave the AMS team more than enough time to review the advertisement.

I submitted the advertising campaign and went to check on my account a few hours later and I was surprised to see that it had been rejected. I checked my email and sure enough, there was a message from AMS saying that the advertisement had been rejected because it included copy that stated a price that may not be correct when users went looking for the product. Huh? Excuse me? The ad does say that the book is free for a limited time, and it was set up to only run during the days of the free promotion. Do theses services don't speak to each other behind the curtain? So I decided to reach out to them and explain my logic. Their reply:

I hope you’re doing well. I will gently take a look into this for you.

I surely understand what you point out by saying that your ad got rejected without contemplating the Free Promotion that you set for the same book you intend to advertise. I find your feedback to be valid and I’ve opened a case for the Amazon Marketing Services team to take a look into this rejection.

I will follow up on this until I get an answer from them. As soon as I get their resolution, I will write back to you to let you know what they say.

Thanks for your patience while I work on this for you.
— Kindle Direct Publishing (operator name withheld)

Today is August 14 and I got that email on August 8. I am assuming they will not get back to me at this point, which is a same. I thought I could count on the AMS platform as a tool to advertise free KDP promotions, but it seems you just can't include the fact that you are running a KDP promotion into the copy of the ad, making AMS unsuitable for that purpose. If it doesn't work for free promotions, I am also assuming it may not work on Kindle Countdown Deals either (a promotion in which you you start at the lowest price and your book increases in price until going back to standard retail price) as the original reason for the ad being rejected was "- The ad copy contains a specific price, discount or savings amount that may not remain correct throughout your campaign."

I am assuming that they don't link promotions and ads because the KDP site actually has an option for the user to abruptly terminate the promotion and if the user were to abruptly terminate a promotion while such an ad were running then there would really be a situation in which the ad copy would contain a price or a discount that may not remain correct during the ad campaign. I understand that.

However, Amazon is not a mom and pop shop; it is one of the biggest and most technologically aggressive Internet businesses in the world. They don't just sell ebooks and assorted retail items; they also offer very robust web services to businesses (the company I work for uses quite a few of their cloud services) and advanced voice recognition API's, among many other high-tech services. That they can offer all of this advanced technology and can't have a simple fail-safe like being able to create ads linked to KDP promotions so the ad campaigns are terminated immediately if you terminate the promotion (with a disclaimer explaining that if a user happened to be staring at the product when you hit the panic button that user still gets the promotional price because he did open the product page before you stopped the campaign) is a major oversight. Heck, they could also make you agree to a condition that if you link an ad to a price you can't change the price until the ad campaign is over and thus link both things. They could even have it as a condition for a kind of promotional price campaign option so that you can only create ad campaigns that mention the price by going through that promotional price campaign which gives Amazon the power to link the campaign and the promotion. They are the ones building the tech (and this is frankly peanuts as far as developing the functionality is in comparison to many of the services they provide) so they can surely solve this quite easily and I am surprised that is even an issue at all.

So anyway, no AMS for promoting book pricing or free promotions. They don't like it and they don't get back to customers after the issue is raised. I guess it's back to other methods to promote outside of Amazon, too bad.

Oh, and hey, Marduk's Mark will be free today and tomorrow as the promotion continues to run. Go grab a copy and hopefully send me some feedback!