Amazon prevents some rival device-makers from buying ads on search results for the company's own products, a WSJ investigation found. For example, Roku is barred from buying sponsored ads that show up in Amazon Fire TV search results. The restrictions, which give Amazon an advantage in the gadget market, could draw scrutiny from regulators.
- The Amazon competitors include makers of smart speakers, video doorbells, security cameras, and other gadgets. Their products directly compete with Amazon's Fire TV, Ring, Echo Show, and more.
- Besides Roku, smart security company Arlo Technologies and Facebook experienced issues buying sponsored ads on Amazon product search results.
- Sponsored Products are keyword-targeted ads that permit advertisers to promote certain products. Advertisers bid on terms and the ads with higher bids are more likely to appear.
- An Amazon spokesman told the WSJ that "retailers promote their own products and often don’t sell products of competitors." He cited Walmart, which doesn't sell any Amazon products.
- The practice could face investigations from regulators, who are already investigating Amazon for its business practices and treatment of rival sellers. These include government regulators in the U.S., the EU, and Canada.
- Close to half of all online shopping searches in the U.S. begin on Amazon.com. The company's advertising power has dramatically increased in recent years: