American e-commerce multinational Amazon has denied information published in the Wall Street Journal that claims the company had modified its search algorithms at the end of last year to promote the products that are most profitable for the company.
“The Wall Street Journal is wrong. We explained in detail that their ‘scoop’ from unidentified sources was not objectively correct, but they continued the story anyway,” the Seattle (Washington state) company said in a statement Tuesday.
“The fact is, we haven’t changed the criteria we use to rank search results to include profitability. We show the products that customers will want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our commercial partners,” the note added.
The company headed by Jeff Bezos admitted that, “as any store would do,” they take into account “the profitability of the products we list and display,” but assured that it is only “a metric” and that “in no way is a key factor in deciding what we show to customers”.
The New York newspaper quoted in an article published on Monday anonymous sources who said had worked on an Amazon project so that product searches on the web would no longer prioritize among the results those products that are more relevant or that sell more and replace them with those that generate more profits for the company.
According to The Wall Street Journal, this decision, which had the support of the firm’s executives at its headquarters in Seattle, was widely contested by Amazon’s search team, mostly made up of engineers and based in Palo Alto (California).
Amazon controls about half of all e-commerce in the country, according to latest data obtained from market research firm eMarketer, so such a move could have huge implications for a multitude of manufacturers.
The order in which a product appears in Internet searches (whether on search engines such as Google or on sales platforms such as Amazon) has a decisive influence on its chances of success or failure, as most Internet users limit their attention to the first results to appear.
The article in the New York daily comes at a particularly delicate time for the company run by Jeff Bezos, which, along with other technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Apple, is currently under several investigations for possible monopolistic practices.
If the practices detailed by the newspaper are confirmed, this would significantly hamper Amazon’s defense in this front if the researchers consider that the company promoted some products against others on its platform to increase profits to the detriment of consumer interest.