Amazon Reins In Ads Amid Regulatory Probe

Amazon private label

Amazon has removed some very prominent ads for some of its private label products amid increased regulatory scrutiny from politicians, according to reports.

Amazon’s private label products are the eCommerce giant’s own in-house products, sold only on the website and often less expensive than brand name competitors. In the last three years, Amazon has offered more and more private label products, and in the process has worried brands and merchants that sell similar ones.

Amazon had been advertising these products on areas that were highly visible on its site, such as at the top of searched results or next to a “buy box” on a different brand’s product page. Companies that aren’t Amazon have spent billions buying ads with good real estate on Amazon’s pages, and Amazon is the number three digital online advertising provider.

The removal of the ads coincides with politicians becoming more vocal about regulation for large tech companies, and about the fact that Amazon is promoting its own products.

“If I were Amazon, I would be worried about being viewed as giving unfair advantage to my private label products, given the amount of power they hold in general — and how unpopular the amount of power is quickly becoming,” said Andrea Leigh, vice president of Ideoclick, an agency that aids sellers and brands on Amazon.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for president, has called for breaking up large tech companies, and she mentioned Amazon specifically for running a marketplace and promoting its own products — a move, she said, that creates a conflict of interest.

When asked about the removal of the ads by CNBC, Amazon said the ads were just part of a bigger experiment, and that it’s always testing out new placement. The spots were not advertisements, Amazon said.

“We are always testing different experiences in order to provide more convenience, more efficiency and more options for customers while shopping our stores,” a spokesperson said.