Skip to main content

Amazon juiced its search algorithm to sell its own products over competitors’

Amazon Basics
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Amazon has reportedly been adjusting its search system so that products that are more profitable for the company appear higher in search results than those that it receives a smaller profit from.

The Wall Street Journal spoke to people who claimed they worked on optimizing Amazon’s secret algorithm so that search results displayed items that boosted profitability for the company over the most-relevant or best-selling product for a particular search term.

Amazon sales can often make or break a product, so the adjustment could have dramatically hurt businesses that had no way of beating the algorithm’s suggestions.

In an emailed statement to the WSJ, Amazon denied the claims, stating that it had not tweaked its algorithm to rank search results based on profitability; however, it declined to discuss the inner workings of the algorithm. An Amazon spokesperson told Digital Trends that the company has not changed its search algorithm to boost more profitable products.

“We feature the products customers will want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our selling partners,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”

The people who claimed to work on the project said that they do not know how much the algorithm impacts Amazon’s sales. However, Amazon’s private-label brand, known as AmazonBasics, asked to have improved listings in the search algorithm.

The news comes as some lawmakers are looking at rethinking antitrust laws specifically with technology companies in mind.

In July the Justice Department announced that it was opening a broad antitrust review into Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple regarding Big Tech’s dominance in internet search, social media, and retail.

As part of that investigation, the government said it planned to look into “whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.”

The news about Amazon comes just a week after a similar story regarding Apple’s App Store surfaced.

According to The New York Times, Apple favored its own apps in search over those made by third parties, a move that potentially led to download numbers for Apple-owned apps growing considerably higher than those made by other companies. In some cases, search terms would show as many as 14 Apple apps before showing one made by anyone else, with the exception of apps that had paid Apple for advertising.

Apple acknowledged the issue and said that it has tweaked its algorithm so that fewer Apple apps appear as top search results within the store

Editors' Recommendations

Emily Price
Emily is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. Her book "Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More at…
It’s the end of an era for Samsung smartwatches
Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (left) and the Galaxy Watch 3 (right)

For the longest time, Samsung smartwatches have run on Tizen, starting with the Samsung Gear 2 in 2014. Since then, every Samsung smartwatch up until the Galaxy Watch 4 has run on Tizen. With the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung joined the rest of the Android smartwatch industry by adopting Wear OS. Now, after a decade of having released its first Tizen smartwatch, Samsung is getting ready to sunset Galaxy Store support for Tizen smartwatches in 2025.

According to the translated screenshot posted by Reddit user Seaweed_Maximus, the Galaxy Store will stop selling paid Tizen watch content by September 30, 2024, and will stop allowing new downloads of free Tizen watch content by May 31, 2025. Services related to the watch will stop everywhere except in the My Apps section of the Galaxy Store. On September 30, 2025, downloads of existing purchased items on the My Apps page will end.

Read more
The RTX 5080 may be a disappointing upgrade after all
PNY RTX 4080 with the power connector attached.

Although Nvidia hasn't said much about its upcoming RTX 50-series graphics cards during Computex, they're coming, and we just got a new rumor about their potential specs. According to a reputable leaker, the RTX 5080 might be less impressive than initially suggested. If this is proven true, is this the direct result of Nvidia not needing to try as hard, given that AMD may be sitting out the race for the best graphics card in this generation?

The intel comes from kopite7kimi -- a frequent leaker in the GPU space, who has now said that not only will it take a while for most of the lineup to arrive but also that the GB203 GPU will be significantly cut down compared to previous rumors. Many suspect that the GB203 will be the GPU inside the RTX 5080, so this is a rather big deal.

Read more
An unexpected phone brand is about to make its gaming laptop debut
Redmagic showing two laptops.

When you think of RedMagic, you usually think of gaming smartphones like the RedMagic 8 Pro. But this time, as spotted in Geekbench, RedMagic is debuting in the gaming laptop arena. The RedMagic GN001J gaming laptop is confirmed to launch in June, but no specific date is available.

We do know, however, that this gaming laptop will pack an Intel Core i9-13950HX mobile processor, part of the last-gen Raptor Lake series, which would provide you with 24 cores and 32 threads at your disposal. This is an older chip, unfortunately, which hints that the device may land on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

Read more