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Report: Amazon search geared toward profits

Amazon has reportedly tweaked its search algorithm to give weight to products that earn the e-tailer the most profit.

According to CNET, following up on a story first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon altered the algorithms underpinning its search functionality in 2018. Previously, Amazon search gave priority to items based on factors like relevance or sales performance.

Engineers from Amazon’s A9 search team said they were pressured to ensure private label Amazon products, which generally earn the e-tailer more profits, appeared more prominently in searches.

In an emailed statement to CNET, Amazon denied the accuracy of the report.

"We feature the products customers will want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our selling partners," the Amazon statement said. "As any store would do, we consider the profitability of the products we list and feature on the site, but it is just one metric and not in any way a key driver of what we show customers."

In June 2018, retailers including Walmart and Target signed a 10-page letter the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting the FTC ensure that new, technology-enabled retail business practices receive antitrust scrutiny – and action if necessary. The letter specifically cited Amazon and Google as potentially having excessive control of online product search and consumer data.

To read the full CNET article, click here.
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