Author Topic: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads  (Read 3906 times)

ilamont

Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« on: January 23, 2019, 07:17:21 AM »
I just received an email from B&N announcing its new self-serve ad platform. I was excited, but then saw what they were offering. $12 CPMs? $300 minimum? What appears to be a complete lack of tools to customize keyword bids and ad copy?

The $12 CPMs I was shown are VASTLY overpriced vs Amazon Advertising. Even $7 CPMs for a bigger spend ($7000!) are a rip off. Unless B&N shoppers are at least 5x more likely to purchase books, my opinion is to steer clear of this ad platform until prices are aligned with reality.




I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog. I am also the publisher of IN 30 MINUTES guides.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2019, 08:42:30 AM »
They don't even list my category, women's fiction. I won't advertise anywhere that won't even list the category; it's a lose/lose.
 

Bruce Fottler

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2019, 08:57:52 AM »
I've been waiting for a long time for B&N to offer some sort of promotion platform. But this? Steeply priced for something just starting out.
 

angela

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Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2019, 09:33:11 AM »
They might be more likely to purchase, compared to Amazon browsers, but 5x really is a big stretch.

This is a tough one. I appreciate the warnings, and I am heeding them for now.

But I remember a time when everyone on Kboards was talking about how terrible Facebook ads were, and I did really well with them (2013-ish).

And then people were saying AMS beta was a total wipeout, but then the early days of the ads were a bonanza for some, especially compared to now.

The advertisers who do really well with some new thing usually keep their mouths shut. I believe the people who report the bad results, but we won't hear from the ones who do well.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 09:36:45 AM by angelapepper »
 

123mlh

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2019, 10:29:58 AM »
They don't even list my category, women's fiction. I won't advertise anywhere that won't even list the category; it's a lose/lose.

Women's fiction is in there as a subheading under Fiction.

But they do not have any SFF category listed.
 

liveswithbirds

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 10:34:30 AM »
They don't even list my category, women's fiction. I won't advertise anywhere that won't even list the category; it's a lose/lose.

They do have women's fiction listed. Click the "Fiction" category and a subcategory menu will pop up, and you'll see it listed there. Once you click that, another submenu comes up where you can click various themes, e.g. "Women of a Certain Age," etc. Very similar to the cats and subcats you choose when uploading your books for publishing.

It'll be interesting to see how this platform evolves. I imagine at first it'll be those with deep pockets giving it a go. Minimum $300 for 25,000 impressions is too steep for a prawn like me to experiment with.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2019, 04:46:54 AM »
I wonder if BN is just interested in the big spenders. Clearly, if this is a ploy to win ad business from AMS or FB, it's a pretty bizarre one.

Of course, even big spenders are unlikely to throw money away. It'll be interesting to see if anything comes of this.


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ilamont

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2019, 05:00:54 AM »
I wonder if BN is just interested in the big spenders. Clearly, if this is a ploy to win ad business from AMS or FB, it's a pretty bizarre one.

Of course, even big spenders are unlikely to throw money away. It'll be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

The minimum spends are too high for most self-published authors. I think they are going after established midsized publishers including imprints who don't really understand the online ad marketplace but are familiar with the B&N brand and have a budget. They may also capture some dollars from publishers who want to diversify marketing budgets and boost sales at Amazon competitors.

But the CPMs are truly abysmal. I don't see how most publishers would be able to make money on these ads unless they have a fabulous response rate. A very respectable 1% CTR and superb 20% conversion yields 50 sales on a $300 spend. Publishers would have to net upwards of $6 per book on a B&N sale to break even, excluding royalties, production, and other costs.   

 
I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog. I am also the publisher of IN 30 MINUTES guides.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.
 

ilamont

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2019, 08:45:45 AM »
The ad portal is now "briefly offline for scheduled maintenance" ... but someone on the Other Forum who purchased one of the B&N ad packages says it's more serious than that, and customers are getting a complete refund.

This launch looks more and more like a massive failure.
I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog. I am also the publisher of IN 30 MINUTES guides.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2019, 01:31:42 PM »
I'm trying to come up with names of established midsized publishers and drawing a blank. There's a huge drop from the big dogs to the next tier. I'm not convinced that second tier has significant ad money to waste, and the small presses definitely don't. So they might come up with $300 once, but not twice.

Has anybody investigated the targeting? (Obviously, I didn't, since I didn't even realize that the Fiction category could expand.) This could be a huge bonanza for B&N. Indies (including myself) would run to throw money at well-targeted ads on the B&N site. Is the problem that B&N already accepts lots of money from the big dogs to optimize their placement and doesn't know how to place ads that don't cost that much?

I just looked at "Contemporary Women's Fiction Other" and the top row of four books have no covers visible. Actually, 15 out of 20 on the page have no cover art showing. I closed my Adblock Plus to see what I was missing and none of the covers came up, but I found a very large sweatjacket ad on the side. Down near the bottom of the page, all by itself, was a sponsored book. However--and this could be VERY important--when I turned AdblockPlus back on, the image and the description of the sponsored book were gone. Only the word "Sponsored" remained.

My AdBlockPlus is always activated on the Amazon site but it doesn't make the ads invisible.
 

angela

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Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2019, 02:58:43 AM »
The ad portal is now "briefly offline for scheduled maintenance" ... but someone on the Other Forum who purchased one of the B&N ad packages says it's more serious than that, and customers are getting a complete refund.

This launch looks more and more like a massive failure.

OH MY.

I guess "crying at your desk" is not just for Amazon employees.
 

123mlh

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2019, 04:37:39 AM »
Are you sure it was the ad portal that was offline? Because when I go to NookPress it says they can't create new accounts due to schedule maintenance, but that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the ad portal. I can still access the portal and choose the option to run a new ad if I want. But, yes, on the other forum Twisted Tales did say that they had heard about people getting refunds on their ads but the ads still being delivered.

I would love to see indies actually give something new a shot to work out the kinks before they try to set it on fire, but that just doesn't seem to be how things work these days.
 

ilamont

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2019, 04:55:41 AM »
The website now says, "At this time we are no longer accepting new campaigns as we are currently at capacity for our beta testing. Please check back soon!"

I would love to see indies actually give something new a shot to work out the kinks before they try to set it on fire, but that just doesn't seem to be how things work these days.

I am a prospective customer. B&N invited me to try the service, which I was fully ready to do until I saw the exploitative pricing. Should I instead have spent $300-$7000, and not publicly criticized the service in order to give B&N a chance to work out the kinks?
I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog. I am also the publisher of IN 30 MINUTES guides.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.
 
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123mlh

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 05:10:18 AM »
Rather than provide feedback to B&N about the pricing so that they could understand that they'd failed to hit the market you came on to a forum with a bunch of indies on it and called it a rip off and told everyone not to use it even though you hadn't tested it yourself. I understand that early users are not seeing good results and that's valid, too. But I would like to see more of "Hey, this doesn't work right now as it is, but if you were to do X or Y, I would try it" than "To hell with those exploitative *^&#!" which seems to be the far more common reaction these days. My comment was not specific to you, by the way. It's a general trend I'm seeing across forums, tweets, and private user groups. I saw the same sort of negative comments and reactions to the new KDP Reports Beta and the recent Google survey as well.

IMO, a company is far less likely to innovate and try to give us services we could use when the community's reaction is so immediately negative and dismissive. But to each their own. YMMV. Etc.
 

123mlh

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2019, 05:22:22 AM »
Also, for the record I just received the email that they're refunding the cost of my scheduled promo but still planning on running it for free. I think that was a pretty decent response on their part.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2019, 05:26:39 AM »
Rather than provide feedback to B&N about the pricing so that they could understand that they'd failed to hit the market you came on to a forum with a bunch of indies on it and called it a rip off and told everyone not to use it even though you hadn't tested it yourself. I understand that early users are not seeing good results and that's valid, too. But I would like to see more of "Hey, this doesn't work right now as it is, but if you were to do X or Y, I would try it" than "To hell with those exploitative *^&#!" which seems to be the far more common reaction these days. My comment was not specific to you, by the way. It's a general trend I'm seeing across forums, tweets, and private user groups. I saw the same sort of negative comments and reactions to the new KDP Reports Beta and the recent Google survey as well.

IMO, a company is far less likely to innovate and try to give us services we could use when the community's reaction is so immediately negative and dismissive. But to each their own. YMMV. Etc.
In general, I agree that positivity is better. My problem is that none of these large companies really seem to be looking for indie-author feedback. KDP Reports Beta? We've been telling Amazon for years what we'd like to see in KDP Reports, and Amazon managed to implement exactly zero of our recommendations. It's all about color and flash, not about giving us what we've been asking for all along. A number of us have tried to give Amazon feedback in other areas as well, and occasionally, we're actually told our suggestion is good. And then...nothing. Since 2012, I can think of only a couple of exceptions to this.

Google Play Survey? Well, I can't fault them for surveying their users, but again, some of the problems, such as their arbitrary discounting, have existed for years. I'm sure Google will hear a lot about that and similar issues. Will it solve the problems? Maybe, but it's hard for me to believe they haven't received plenty of feedback on the most obvious issues already.

As for the BN ads, we'd all like to see a self-serve ad vehicle on BN, but at those prices? That's kind of a what-were-they-thinking kind of situation. The pricing suggests a complete lack of knowledge about indie publishing. Perhaps if BN had surveyed authors first about what they wanted, the system would look more attractive.

When companies really care about something, it seems to me they make more of an effort to get it right.


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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2019, 05:27:07 AM »
Also, for the record I just received the email that they're refunding the cost of my scheduled promo but still planning on running it for free. I think that was a pretty decent response on their part.
Yes, that was decent of them.


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ilamont

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2019, 06:49:49 AM »
Rather than provide feedback to B&N about the pricing so that they could understand that they'd failed to hit the market you came on to a forum with a bunch of indies on it and called it a rip off and told everyone not to use it even though you hadn't tested it yourself.

I come to WS to learn from others, share advice, and share opinions. I assume others are here for similar reasons.

I called it a ripoff because it is a ripoff. Based on standard CPMs, B&N's stated pricing fails to give publishers an opportunity to make money on the sales of books. It does, however, give ample opportunity to B&N and its adtech partner to make a lot of money off of publishers, each of whom stood to lose hundreds or thousands of dollars on every single campaign they signed up for that use $7-$12 CPMs.     

FWIW, this is the advice I actually gave:

Quote
my opinion is to steer clear of this ad platform until prices are aligned with reality.

Once that condition is met, then (in my opinion) it's worth testing. You and others may have different opinions, and that's fine.   

I agree that B&Ns response to whatever problem it is dealing with was an honorable one.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 07:51:18 AM by ilamont »
I am the author of Lean Media: How to focus creativity, streamline production, and create media that audiences love. Lean Media website, Lean Media blog. I am also the publisher of IN 30 MINUTES guides.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont.
 
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EB

Re: Warning about new, overpriced B&N self-serve ads
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2019, 02:43:14 AM »
Rather than provide feedback to B&N about the pricing so that they could understand that they'd failed to hit the market you came on to a forum with a bunch of indies on it and called it a rip off and told everyone not to use it even though you hadn't tested it yourself.

I come to WS to learn from others, share advice, and share opinions. I assume others are here for similar reasons.

I called it a ripoff because it is a ripoff. Based on standard CPMs, B&N's stated pricing fails to give publishers an opportunity to make money on the sales of books. It does, however, give ample opportunity to B&N and its adtech partner to make a lot of money off of publishers, each of whom stood to lose hundreds or thousands of dollars on every single campaign they signed up for that use $7-$12 CPMs.     

FWIW, this is the advice I actually gave:

Quote
my opinion is to steer clear of this ad platform until prices are aligned with reality.

Once that condition is met, then (in my opinion) it's worth testing. You and others may have different opinions, and that's fine.   

I agree that B&Ns response to whatever problem it is dealing with was an honorable one.

I was glad to hear feedback before I dumped money into it. I'm all for seeing how they end up working out the kinks, but I wasn't willing to be a guinea pig for it. And while it's a very good sign that they refunded money to folks, we had no way of knowing they would do that. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
 
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