There is more nonsense written about Amazon than almost any other topic because mere mention of Amazon will get you more clicks than anything else — although the “A9 Algorithm” might be the most ridiculous topic of all.
Amazon also happens to be an incredibly divisive subject generally, one of those where little nuance seems to be permitted — and someone writing articles about Amazon tends to regularly get labeled a “shill” or a “hater,” depending, sometimes off the back of the same piece!
Talk of Amazon can also be quite lucrative. The currency of the internet is attention — as I think was once said by Jeff Bezos, although I’m scared to Google it in case I start getting hunted down on every corner of the internet with hyper-personalized ads offering to make me a Kindle Publishing Millionaire or help me build a Drop Shipping EMPIRE.
Internet marketers are not known for their rigorous application of the scientific method. One intrepid black-hatted pioneer will discover a tasty data-morsel, dress it up in distracting finery, and then parade it about as part of a $2000 course. And then a dozen more will riff off that for their own courses and Patreons and books and masterminds and exclusive online workshops and virtual conferences; it’s like the most expensive game of telephone ever.
Sadly, it’s also quite value-free if you like hard facts.
This kind of environment shows some of the drawbacks of the brave new world ushered in by the internet and Google. If search for the phrase “amazon algorithm,” for example, the very first result is an article titled “Everything You Need To Know About Amazon’s A9 Algorithm,” and my BS alarm immediately goes off — use of the singular “algorithm” is a dead giveaway that the person doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about. Use of “A9” in this manner is another. Read More…
Also Boughts play an important role on Amazon, but it is one which is commonly misunderstood, because Also Boughts are much more important for what they represent. Which means you shouldn’t worry so much if they aren’t currently displaying on your book’s page — or even if they go away forever! — because Amazon’s giant recommendation engine will be completely unaffected.
That statement will spark some vehemently disagreement, I’m sure, but give me the opportunity to show you exactly what I mean.
Amazon makes millions of book recommendations to readers every single day — both on-site in various slots around the Kindle Store, and by email as well. These recommendations take many different forms. Some are very top-down, but most are either personalized for each individual reader, or contextual — based on what the reader is viewing at that moment, or the place they are in the Kindle Store, or an action they just performed.
Let me give you an example.
During the research process for the forthcoming second edition of Amazon Decoded, I conducted a number of simple experiments, which were quite revealing.
Have you ever noticed what happens when you buy a book in the Kindle Store? I mean, have you noticed what happens on-screen directly afterwards? Amazon never misses a trick, and as soon as you complete the purchase, a confirmation screen appears, recommending several more books of course.
Amazon is split-testing things all the time, of course, so you may see this play out slightly differently each time you purchase a book, but, commonly, you will see Amazon push the book in the #1 Also Bought slot pretty hard. Read More…
A real horror story has been slowly building for the last year or so and I’m getting a lot of emails on the topic so it’s time to deal with this head-on: what the hell is going on with Also Boughts?
For those unaware, the strip of books right which are usually placed underneath your product description on Amazon, headlined with “Customers who bought this item also bought” are popularly known as “Also Boughts” and have become the subject of much attention lately, as our knowledge of their importance grows in tandem with Amazon’s seeming desire to muck about with them.
First their importance: if you have read Amazon Decoded you will already know just how critical Also Boughts are and can skip ahead. For the rest of you, Amazon’s system is always trying to determine what kind of products you personally are most likely to purchase, so that it can display more of those to you. One thing it looks at very closely is the connection between products. People who buy printers tend to buy ink, for example, and recommending a printer-buyer some ink to purchase will elicit a lot of clicks. Read More…
A problematic feature of the world in 2018 is that the social networks we have built seem to spread misinformation faster and wider than its more accurate counterpart, and this can lead authors to make decisions counter to their interests. One of the enduring myths surrounds “The Amazon Algorithm.”
That phrase alone is a red flag to me because anyone who has a good idea about how Amazon works knows there is more than one algorithm — for example there are separate algorithms which determine how books are ranked in the bests seller charts, in the popularity list, plus which books appear in search for a given term and what order they appear in. And that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg.
That’s not the only thing about the phrase “the Amazon algorithm” which sets me on edge — speaking about it in such a way betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what algorithms are, and what they can do. Read More…
I’m just back from The Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, Texas. I won’t try and capture the magic of the event – Kobo Mark does an excellent job – but I would like to talk about the big takeaway: the dangers of Also Bought pollution. Also Boughts are probably the most important aspect of the entire Amazon recommendation ecostructure. And also the least understood. They are much more than a little strip under your book’s description – they power a huge chunk of the recommendations that Amazon serves to readers. The Also Boughts are what tells Amazon that the readers of my non-fiction also like reading Susan Kaye Quinn, Sean Platt and Johnny Truant. Amazon uses this data to decide Read More…
I’m hosting a discussion today between two authors who are using creative ways to share audiences, something which has the happy side-effect of increasing their respective sales. As I said on Thursday, I think creative forms of collaboration – especially in terms of marketing strategies – are going to be big this year. Traditionally published authors may have to compete with each other ways that may not be relevant/important to self-publishers – like agents, deals, grants, prizes, or co-op. But self-publishers have nothing to fear from cooperating with authors they are nominally competing with, and everything to gain. The market is so large that no writer will ever reach all the readers out there, and the odds of getting noticed can improve greatly with the right kind Read More…