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AMS Rules Roundup

Amazon Marketing Services Rules Roundup

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is one of this year’s hottest venues for book advertising, but to take advantage of the program you’ll need to know the rules. For your convenience, we’ve categorized Amazon’s guidelines and prohibitions for AMS ads into this handy list.

We’ve marked each rule with the following tags for easy identification:

  • — cover image
  • — book title and ad text
  • — book subject matter
  • — keywords, interests, and other targeting

Contents

  1. General Requirements for Ad Copy
  2. Image Quality
  3. Reviews, Ratings, and Claims
  4. Intensity
  5. Ad Text
  6. Defamation
  7. Violence
  8. Weapons
  9. Profanity
  10. Drug Use
  11. Self-Help
  12. Adult Content
  13. Sexuality
  14. Politics
  15. Religion
  16. Children

General Requirements for Ad Copy
Because AMS only has the ability to screen books in English, all other languages are ineligible at this time.

  • Must be in English.
  • Must be relevant to the book.
  • May not contain references to cost or pricing (e.g., “Discounted price!”).
  • May not reference special offers, promotions, or contests.

Image Quality
3D images of books are not acceptable, but other than that restriction, if your cover image passed KDP’s quality control, you should have no problems with the technical requirements of AMS.

  • Cover images must be clear
  • Cover text must be legible.
  • Images must be 2-dimensional; 3D mockups of box sets are not permitted.

Reviews, Ratings, and Claims
Paid third-party editorial reviews from services like Kirkus cannot be included in your review.
Claims of best seller status must now cite an independent source. Because “best seller” status based on reaching #1 in an Amazon subcategory isn’t backed up by an independent source, these claims cannot be used for AMS.

  • Amazon customer reviews permitted if also present in the book’s description or detail page.
  • Only unpaid editorial reviews may be quoted in ads.
  • May not include Amazon ratings (“Five stars on Amazon!”).
  • May not include third-party ratings (“Five stars on Goodreads!”).
  • May not quote any third-party customer reviews.
  • Ads may not imply that a book is superior to another title or its author. (E.g., “More thrilling than The DaVinci Code!”)
  • Claims of awards or bestseller status must be backed up with supporting evidence from an independent source on the book’s detail page. (For example, “#1 best seller!” must be backed up with a date and citation for Amazon Charts, New York Times, USA Today, or other independent, verifiable source.)

Intensity
  • No emotionally draining or depressing messages. (“Everybody must die.”)
  • No excessively forceful phrases or exclamations. (E.g., “You must buy this book now!”, “Don’t miss out!”, “This book may save your life!”)

Ad Text
Although the rules specify that ad text may only end in a question mark or exclamation point, a period is also acceptable.

  • Ad copy must be in sentence case.
  • Ad copy may not use all-caps, except:
    • Common abbreviations like YA.
    • References to titles when capitalized on the cover in the same way.
  • May not contain special characters, including copyright and trademark symbols.
  • Titles may not end in articles (e.g., “Catcher in the Rye, The”).
  • May not use multiple punctuation (e.g., “Read it today!!!”).
  • Ellipses, both as a special character or a series of periods, may be rejected.
  • Ad copy must not end with punctuation other than a [period,] question mark, or exclamation point.

Defamation
  • No hate speech.
  • No defamatory or libelous references.
  • No invasion of privacy.
  • No content that can be interpreted as harassing, threatening, abusive, discriminatory, or which advocates against protected groups (based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, or any other category).

Violence
  • No images of human abuse, mistreatment, or distress.
  • No images of animal abuse, mistreatment, or distress.
  • No images of people or animals on fire.
  • Ads may not portray children in peril (e.g., threatened with weapons).
  • No images of realistic or excessive violence.
  • No images of gore, blood, or open wounds.
  • No depictions of torture, dismemberment, or mutilation of bodies alive or dead.
  • No images or text implying or referencing rape.

Weapons
In general, realistic guns are permitted on the covers of books, but they must be pointed away from characters and the viewer. They are not permitted on Kindle lock screen ads.

  • No images of guns pointed at characters.
  • No images of guns pointed towards the reader.
  • Ads may not portray or reference children in peril (e.g., threatened with weapons).
  • Ads may not portray children or adolescents handling firearms.
  • Weapons such as swords and bows may not be depicted in a violent manner (e.g., about to injure a character).
  • Weapons such as swords and bows may not be shown injuring characters.
  • Kindle Special Offer (KSO) ads may not display realistic firearms.
  • Images of nonrealistic firearms (phasers, ray-guns) are acceptable for all platforms.
  • Images of military vehicles are acceptable for all platforms.

Profanity
Censored versions of profanity are prohibited in AMS ads, so books such as Go the F**k to Sleep would not be eligible.
Amazon’s definition of obscenity is frustratingly vague: “What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.” And based on that vague and subjective statement, Amazon’s determination of what constitutes obscenity is as random and inconsistent as you would expect.

  • No obscenity (as determined by Amazon).
  • No foul, vulgar, or obscene language.
  • No “censored” versions of profanity (such as using punctuation to indicate cursing).

Drug Use
Marijuana references are situational; books dealing with marijuana in a recreational context are likely to be rejected, while books focused on medical or industrial usage have a better chance of being accepted.

  • No content promoting illicit drug use.
  • No content promoting drug paraphernalia.
  • No content promoting methods of defeating drug testing.

Self-Help
Certain categories of self-help books that deal with sensitive, personal subjects are not permitted in AMS.

  • Books about dieting and weight loss are ineligible for AMS ads.
  • Books about dating and relationships are ineligible for AMS ads.
  • Books about weddings and divorce are ineligible for AMS ads.
  • Books dealing with personal crises (e.g., bankruptcy, grief) are ineligible.
  • Books dealing with personal health issues (e.g., alcoholism, sexual dysfunction) are ineligible.

Adult Content
Amazon’s policies regarding adult content are often applied inconsistently.

  • All erotica is ineligible for AMS advertising.
  • Images may not suggest sexual poses or sexual activity, whether clothed or unclothed.
  • Images may not display suggestive poses (e.g., spread legs) with amorous or passionate facial expressions.
  • Ads may not draw “undue attention” to body parts such as breasts or buttocks in a sexual way.
  • Images may not display models in suggestive poses (e.g., spread legs, gripping hair, hands on hips) with amorous or passionate facial expressions.
  • Images may not suggest orgasm through facial expression or pose.
  • Images may not suggest undressing, such as pulling down a bra strap or undergarments.
  • Models may not wear lingerie or other sexual attire.
  • Models may not hold paraphernalia such as whips and chains.
  • Ads may not depict minors in sexual situations.
  • No images or text implying or referencing rape.
  • No images or text implying or referencing child molestation.

Sexuality and Sexual Orientation
To protect customer privacy, search and purchase history related to sexual orientation is not exposed to most Amazon APIs.

  • Amazon does not permit interest targeting related to sexuality or sexual orientation.
  • Ads may target similar LGBT content, but cannot target customers’ LGBT purchase or search history.

Religion
Amazon classifies “non-fiction religion-specific” books as “sacred texts (Qur’an, The Bible, Bhagavad Gita, etc.), commentary on sacred texts, and educational or explanatory books about the specific religion.”

  • Nonfiction books that focus on a specific religion may only use keyword targeting.
  • Nonfiction about a specific religion may only use keywords relevant to religion.
  • Nonfiction about a specific religion may not use Product Display ads.

Politics
Some political nonfiction is restricted during certain years and at all times on Kindle lock screen ads.

  • Ads for books about a specific candidate, issue, or political party are not accepted during active election cycles.
  • Ads for books about a specific candidate, issue, or political party are not permitted on Kindle Special Offers.
  • Ads for political memoirs and autobiographies are not permitted on Kindle Special Offers.
  • Books that contain a personal attack on a political candidate are not permitted on Kindle Special Offers.
  • Fiction with political themes is acceptable for all platforms.
  • Nonfiction about political science or politics in general is acceptable for all platforms.

Children
  • No part of the ad may be directed at children.
  • Ads may be targeted to parents.
  • Ads may not portray children in adult situations (e.g., violence, crime, gambling, drug use).
  • Ads may not depict minors in sexual situations.
  • Ads may not portray children engaging in illegal activity.
  • Ads may not portray adults influencing children with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products.
  • Ads may not portray children in extreme danger (e.g., threatened with weapons, child abuse).
  • Ads may not portray children or adolescents handling firearms.
  • No images or text implying or referencing child molestation.


OVER TO YOU
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below!

AMS Rules Roundup: all the Amazon advertising rules for #IndieAuthors - by @johndoppler Click To Tweet

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2 Responses to AMS Rules Roundup

  1. Wanda Luthman October 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    This is very informative but I have several questions–

    “may not reference special offers, promotions, contests”–isn’t that exactly why you put an ad up? Like if you are offering your book for .99 or FREE, you can’t advertise that on AMS? Why? You can only advertise your book at a regular price? How frustrating!

    Okay, #2–what is Kindle Special Offers? Maybe here is where you offer the special promotions, etc.

    Please help, I’m a new author trying to comprehend the world of advertising on Amazon.

    • John Doppler October 21, 2017 at 10:25 am #

      Hi Wanda,
      You can advertise your book during discounts or special promotions, but you can’t mention the fact that it’s discounted in your ad.

      I’m not sure if this is for practical reasons — not wanting authors to accidentally let the ad run beyond the discount period with the now-false promise of a deal — or if the issue is some sort of legal concern, but the same restriction applies to book descriptions. Amazon doesn’t like any mention of time-sensitive information.

      Kindle Special Offers are the ads that appear on a Kindle lock screen or screensaver, if you’ve purchased a Kindle with that option. (You can also sign up for it, apparently, though I’ve never heard of someone doing that.) They don’t allow you to mention any discounts or special deals, either.

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200671290

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