Amazon Denies Search Engine Profit Bias
E-commerce giant, Amazon, has rejected allegations its search engine was secretly changed to favour more profitable products, contrary to sources who worked on the project.
Disclosed in a Wall Street Journal exclusive, sources claim Amazon’s search engine algorithm was tweaked to boost its own products and benefit profitability, despite being “contested internally.”
The shift was reportedly implemented last year, favouring Amazon-made products and third-party items which offer good ‘contribution profit’ (i.e. also factoring non-fixed expenses as shipping and advertising).
“Amazon optimized the secret algorithm that ranks listings so that instead of showing customers mainly the most-relevant and best-selling listings when they search—as it had for more than a decade—the site also gives a boost to items that are more profitable for the company,” reads WSJ.
The tech company has since rejected the WSJ’s report, asserting the publication “has it wrong”, that unnamed sources were “not factually accurate.”
“We feature the products customers will want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our selling partners,” an Amazon spokesperson said to Ars Technica.
“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.”
A Journal source claims Amazon engineers did add new variables to its search algorithm to ensure results “scored higher on the profitability metric,” whilst declining to say what the new variables are.
The news comes as digital tech giants such as Amazon and Google continue to grapple with many anti-trust allegations, especially in the European Union.