Has Amazon's "Buy Box" Been Gouging Customers?

A class-action lawsuit could change the way marketers promote their products

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Has Amazon's "Buy Box" Been Gouging Customers?

A class-action lawsuit could change the way marketers promote their products.

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Double Your Email List With Opensend

Opensend turns anonymous visitors into emails. These new emails are then automatically added to your email platform (like Klaviyo) to generate more revenue, more profitably.

Generative AI for automatically created assets in Google Ads is now live in the US and UK.

Google first announced this back in May, but it’s been in testing for a while now. I should note this is English language only for the time being.

Google says this tech will:

…improve the relevancy of assets to the search query and predicted performance of your Search ads — in Search and PMax campaigns.

Ginny Marvin, Google Search Ads Liaison

When they first announced this, they used an example for a skin care product, saying “AI can use content from your landing page and existing ads to create a new headline that aligns even more closely with the query, such as “Soothe Your Dry, Sensitive Skin.”

AI being AI, of course, your mileage may vary.

A few items to note:

  • This a campaign-level setting option, so it’s going to cover all your ads in that campaign.

  • You can turn it off if you want — again, at the campaign level.

  • It’s important to keep your web site up to date, as that’s where it’s going to get its inspiration for generating text.

  • Most importantly, there is some level of performance reporting and — at least for now —you can pull any of these assets if you feel they’re not right for you.

More details in Google’s help document.

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Amazon • Did the “Buy Box” Gouge Customers?

A lawsuit alleges that Amazon rigged its platform to force customers to pay more for products that could have been bought cheaper.

The lawsuit claims that a biased algorithm drives Amazon's "Buy Box," which appears on an item's page and prompts shoppers to "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart." According to customers suing, nearly 98 percent of Amazon sales are of items featured in the Buy Box, because customers allegedly "reasonably" believe that featured items offer the best deal on the platform.

"But they are often wrong," the complaint said, claiming that instead, Amazon features items from its own retailers and sellers that participate in Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), both of which pay Amazon higher fees and gain secret perks like appearing in the Buy Box.

"The result is that consumers routinely overpay for items that are available at lower prices from other sellers on Amazon—not because consumers don’t care about price, or because they’re making informed purchasing decisions, but because Amazon has chosen to display the offers for which it will earn the highest fees," the complaint said.

It is a class action lawsuit, covering everyone who bought something using that Buy Box from 2016 to now.

And it could have widespread implications for the marketing industry. Assuming a ruling against Amazon, it would almost certainly make other commerce platforms think twice about using similar tactics.

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X • Place Video Ads Beside Specific Creators

X, formerly Twitter, announced this week that advertisers will soon be able to pick and choose which specific content creators they want their ads to be shown beside.

It’s a move that might help persuade those risk-averse brands to getting back onto the platform. Last year, many companies pulled their ads after their campaigns showed up alongside white supremacist content.

X says this will be baked into the self-serve ad manager, so you won’t need a human rep to access this, though it sounds like it’s only for pre-roll video ads which would run alongside video content of their chosen creators.

[The] announcement is likely an attempt at luring back advertisers to X, as its advertising revenue has taken a significant hit ever since Musk took the reigns of the company.

X’s advertising revenue plunged by 50% last year, as it was estimated to have brought in around $2.5 billion throughout 2023, falling short of its $3 billion target.

The social network generated around $600 million per quarter in 2023, a significant decrease compared to the $1 billion brought in per quarter in 2022.

It’s worth noting that today’s announcement could also be seen as a way for X to lure creators to its platform and take on YouTube, which is something that the company has been focusing on recently.

The elephant in the room, of course, is whether they actually will do this. That’s not something we say for any other company, but X’s owner Elon Musk has a habit of promising features then just sort of ignoring it all. This did seem to be more of an official statement from the company, so I’m putting 80% of my chips on “it’ll happen.”

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Threads • “Today’s Topics” Launching in US

Meanwhile, at Meta’s Twitter competitor, Threads, they just launched a test of trending topics — something that community has said it’s wanted for some time.

The list shows up on the search page and the main feed. This is a list marketers used on Twitter a lot — to try to find out what was gaining traction that day and jump in on it.

Meta says they have a team that will review what the AI picks for that section, just to make sure nothing crazy gets up there (Drake nude video, anyone?) and they also said they would be trying to limit political content recommendations — you’d still be able to see it and share it with people, but they’d try to keep any political stuff from going viral. Politics would be eligible for the trending section.

The trending section, which they call “Today’s Topics” is rolling out this week in the U.S. with more countries to come later.

[more]

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TikTok • Creative Assistant Now In Adobe Express

TikTok and Adobe have teamed up — the newly introduced TikTok Creative Assistant is now an add-on feature within Adobe Express.

The Creative Assistant, previously exclusive to TikTok's Creative Center, can develop TikTok-specific ads inside Express.

It can also help you find trending hashtags.

It’s one of those AI chatbot interfaces that’s becoming popular these days, so you can use prompts like:

  • Show me what's trending on TikTok.

  • Give me tips for making a high-performing ad creative.

  • Write some thought starters for my ad

One TikTok-sponsored study found that TikTok-first ads, which use platform-specific trends and features, are 74% more likely to capture audience attention and generate three times more engagement compared to other platforms.

It is available globally in English for desktop users. The Creative Assistant add-on can be accessed in Adobe Express under the add-on tab. It is free to use.

[more]

Mergers • Salesloft Buys B2B Platform Drift

The marketing platform Drift has been acquired by Salesloft. Both companies offer customer journey management tools for B2B brands.

Drift offered several new AI-powered additions to its platform last October: Drift Engage, Site Concierge and a Bionic Chatbot. Salesloft also launched a new AI solution last year, Rhythm, aimed at translating buyer signals into a single, prioritized workflow.

MarTech

The new company will have about 6,000 customers. Its employees are based in the U.K., Poland, South Africa, Mexico, and the U.S.

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LinkedIn • Agencies Get Their Own Planning API

LinkedIn has a new API — the Media Planning API.

This one is intended for agencies and will spit out LinkedIn data, like user insights, to help in campaign planning. Given that it’s an API, this will need either third-party tools to take advantage of it, or agencies could build their own in-house tool using it.

The Media Planning API allows agencies to see the forecasted reach and frequency of brand campaigns before spending any budget. These insights provide marketers more accuracy and allows agencies to better scenario plan and drive measurable results on LinkedIn.

The data it has includes demographics, job titles, industries, and online behaviors.

If this is something your agency might want to check out, the company says you should connect with your agency development lead or your LinkedIn sales rep for more information.

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