Amazon is under fire for failing to properly disclose paid ads – Best Life

Amazon’s fast shipping and wide range of products have made it one of the most popular places to shop online, but that doesn’t mean it avoids user feedback. In 2020, Amazon was the target of a record number of customer complaints due to delays, missing packages and damaged items. And in September this year, a number of customers threatened to cancel their Amazon Prime subscriptions altogether after the company announced it would add new fees to Whole Foods delivery orders. Now the market is under fire again, this time the subject of a federal complaint. Read on to find out what put Amazon in the hot seat.

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A new complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges that Amazon is potentially misleading customers with its paid advertisements. The lawsuit, which was filed Dec. 8 by a labor coalition called the Strategic Organizing Center (SOG), says the retailer is “illegally deceiving millions of consumers” by violating a section of the FTC law.

Amazon “does not” clearly and conspicuously “disclose its search engine results which are paid advertisements rather than” organic “search results,” the SOC complaint states.

amazon fake reviews scrolling with packages

SOC researchers analyzed more than 130,000 search results on Amazon before the organization filed its complaint. According to the SOC, more than a quarter of Amazon’s search results were paid for by third parties. The record indicates that the pervasiveness of these paid promotions “adds significantly to the level of consumer harm” caused by the retailer’s alleged violation of the FTC.

“His really the combination the frequency with which ads on Amazon platforms are misleading, as well as the prevalence of ads on all of its search pages, it really calls into question whether the whole of Amazon’s search platform itself is misleading “, Joan moriartySOC’s research director told CNN on December 9.

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woman's hand clicks tablet screen while buying watches on amazon

According to CNN, online search engine results should use left-hand shading, borders, and large text boxes to properly label paid products. The SOC complaint alleges that Amazon uses the same shade of gray for advertised products and organic search results, which could confuse buyers. Paid ads are also labeled with text that says ‘sponsored’, but SOC says that text is too small and too clear to be properly distinguishable.

In addition to shading and text, the organization’s complaint alleges that Amazon also uses “lazy loading” of paid ads, which means sponsored labels load for up to three seconds after the rest of the content loads. ad on the search page result.

“Amazon customers need to be very aware and take a close look when search on Amazon that they get an advertisement or an organic search result ”, Marka peterson, SOC’s legal director, said The Washington Post. “They should be very aware of the different methods Amazon uses to hide its advertising.”

An Amazon logo sign hanging in front of a building

Amazon is fighting the idea that its paid ads are not clearly reported. Tina Pelkey, a spokesperson for the company, said The Washington Post in a statement that the SOC complaint “distorts FTC guidelines,” while an Amazon spokesperson also called its report “incorrect” in a statement to CNN.

“Ads in the Amazon store always include a clear and prominent ‘sponsored’ label, implemented in accordance with FTC guidelines,” Pelkey ​​said. “We design our store to help customers discover the products that we think might best meet their needs. Sponsored ads are one way to help them find products that they might be interested in. “

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