Amazon is now copying Google’s trick of selling the prime location in search results to advertisers.
I was looking into the NY Times story on Amazon dropping list prices on Monday morning when I found this in the search results.
What I see in this screen shot is: at the top of the screen is a banner ad for Amazon, and below the menu bar is another banner ad, and below that two more ads.
What I don’t see are the search results I was looking for. Those are shoved down off the bottom of the screen. Google has had a similar problem where their search engine doesn’t return any organic search results on the first screen (example), and now Amazon is taking the same user hostile approach.
Yes, Amazon has sold ads on its site for at least four years now, but they were always placed after the information you were looking for. A product listing, for example, has ad spots down the page. In contrast, this search result page shows the ads first.
If you are looking for conclusive proof that Hugh Howey is wrong to claim that Amazon always puts the customer first, look at the screenshot, because we found it. Of course, Amazon was always in this for their own pocketbook; it’s just that for a while (a decade or more) Amazon’s interests aligned with its customers.
Clearly that is no longer the case.
Readers, beware. This ad infestation has not spread to the books category yet, but it is bound to do in the long run, so we should be wary about clicking those first few links.
Edit: No, I was wrong. A reader has shared a screenshot which shows that the first result on a search of the book category is an advert (Thanks, S!):
In light of this latest revelation, that caution extends to all search results on Amazon.com; if this is what they are doing in public, Bezos only know what they are doing behind the scenes.