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Amazon’s advertising platform turns off customers…

It seems like we talk about Amazon a lot here at Teach the 4 Ps. For several reasons Amazon is a great class example. First, it is a brand that everyone knows and most of our students use on a regular basis. Second, they are at the leading edge of so many new marketing practices. Third, Amazon offers the opportunity for examples that reflect many marketing practices (and many chapters). Today, we are talking about Amazon the online retailer, as an advertising medium. After Google and Facebook, Amazon is growing fast as an advertiser. A Wall Street Journal article earlier this year pointed out that “54% of people looking for a product now begin their search directly on Amazon…” Search advertising has traditionally been Google’s sweet spot.

This article, “Ad Business a Boon for Amazon But a Turn-Off for Shoppers,” (November 26, 2019) points out that Amazon may need to be careful with all the advertising. Some customers are getting annoyed with the online retailer for serving up too many ads. Customers just want the product they are looking for–but they often have to search through many “sponsored posts” before they get there.

This article or example may be used in your marketing classroom in a number of ways. If Amazon wants to do well by customers, is this the right way? Is this customer-oriented behavior (Chapter 1)? An interesting counter-example might be drawn out by asking students if they have ever gone to Amazon looking for one thing, then seeing an ad for a competing product, and ended up buying the competing product. Was that information useful?

The question gets further muddled when the article also notes that ads like this might help Amazon deliver one-day service that customers love (Chapters 10 and 12). It also suggests changes in consumer behavior (Chapter 5). And then of course the article highlights how Amazon is becoming a new advertising medium (Chapter 15). Lots to potentially talk about here.

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