In a major shift in strategy, e-commerce giant Amazon.com is using its A9 search subsidiary to power a new pay-per-click advertising network that will display targeted text ads alongside product pages.
The Seattle-based online superstore on Thursday took the wraps off Clickriver Ads, a beta program that mimics traditional auction-based pay-per-click advertising programs.
A company spokesman declined to comment on specifics of the beta. "[We are] beta testing an advertising program that allows businesses to buy sponsored links that appear on Amazon.com, next to search results and on product detail pages," the spokesman said in an e-mail exchange with ClickZ News.
"These ads will feature products and services that complement products sold on Amazon.com. Revenue from sponsored links allows Amazon.com to even further lower product prices for customers," he added.
Clickriver Ads will be non-exclusive as Amazon.com plans to continue displaying sponsored links from third party ad networks.
It is likely that Clickriver Ads will block competing retailers from purchasing advertising on product pages. Amazon.com is describing the network as an opportunity for advertise to hawk services and products that complement its own products, which reach tens of millions of active customers.
On an "About" page describing the service, the company said sponsored links that appear alongside search results pages and on many product detail pages will be clearly labeled.
Amazon.com is following search marketing giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft into a lucrative business segment but, in the early going, the company will limit access to the Clickriver Ads beta.
"Everyone can apply, although unfortunately we will not be able to accept all the applications," the detail page said.
The company said the network would be perfect for businesses in travel, finance and investment, training and education, entertainment, insurance, news, healthcare and physical fitness centers, IT assistance, consulting and photo printing.
For example, ads from banks can be purchased on search results for finance and investment books. A shopper looking at digital cameras can be targeted with an ad for photo printing services; Ads for hotels, car rentals and travel agencies can display on pages for travel books, sunglasses, suitcases, portable DVD players and other travel accessories, Amazon explained.
The Clickriver Ads beta will provide tools to allow users to create, track and optimize sponsored link ad campaigns on Amazon.com.
The launch comes shortly after a major scaling back of A9 services which discontinued a search-recall feature and removed a mapping service that offered street level images of major U.S. cities.
A9 was also rocked by the exit of its first chief executive, Udi Manber, who now serves as vice president of engineering at rival Google.
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