Goodreads’ Pay-per-click Advertising Update

Bottom line: Ineffective.

There are two central problems that have to be fixed; one administrative, the other technical. 

On the technical end, the “Self-serve advertising” platform is not fully functional in Chrome. For example, Chrome does not display your ad where it should be in the editing window, and not all editing functions work in Chrome. To use the self-serve advertising, you’ve got to use Internet Explorer (I didn’t try Firefox)

On the administrative end, it takes at least two days to have your ad approved, even after making the most mundane changes. That means your ad is not shown for that period. And God help you if you make a change on Friday. Your ad will probably not appear again until the following Wednesday, Tuesday at best. This is unacceptable.

Another complaint I have is that Goodreads seems to think that the goal of this advertising is to get people to add your book to their “to-read” list. While there is a benefit to that, and they tell you who added the book so you can communicate with them, my goal is to sell books. Everyone on Goodreads could add it to their “to-read” list, but that won’t get me a thing.

Here are the numbers:

My campaign for “A Beast in Venice”

6,579 views, 0 clicks, 1 book added to someone’s “to-read” list in January (they don’t tell you this for all time, for some reason).

This means either that I have a book no one wants to read, which is possible, the ad sucks, which is also quite possible, or there is something wrong with the way Goodreads displays the ad. 

In my view, there should have been at least a few clicks. 0.1% would have given 6.

At least it didn’t cost me anything.

As to my campaign for “The Ghost of Caroline Wald,” I had a little more success:

460,897 views, 220 clicks, 3 added to “to-read” lists in January.

Total spent: $39.00

So far as I can tell, there were no sales resulting from this. If there were, it would have been only one or two. I don’t have any way of telling who bought a book, or where they came from.

My verdict at the moment is that it’s not worth it. Goodreads wants you to pay to get someone to add your book to their “to-read” list. While this is not totally useless, it’s not my goal. My goal is to sell books, which means I want people to go to my site and buy a book.

Now, I recognize that the failing could be me. With all these booklovers seeing my books, there has to be a few who would like to own one of them. I’ve already jazzed up my descriptions, and I’m tinkering with the text of the ads. So, although I’m not impressed, I’m not quite willing to give up, yet.

This is a very targeted audience. There has to be a secret to it. Any ideas?