The e-commerce giant has started what is effectively an ad network*, where it buys Web advertising inventory and resells it to marketers at a premium. It can add a mark up to its ads because it’s using the data it collects about its visitors and shoppers to target likely prospects.
Using data like this is a big step forward from re-targeting which is already upsetting a lot of folk. As with re-targeting the data will be anonymised so in theory nobodies privacy will be impacted, but that fine distinction won’t mean a lot to most people. As Kafka says people will either be up in arms about Amazon’s move, or they will shrug and move on.
I hope it is the latter. In my mind the data exists already and using it to target ads creates value for Amazon, other publishers and advertisers which will benefit us all as consumers either in the form of better prices, better ad supported services and maybe even more relevant ads.
Many others will be watching how this goes down, not least Facebook (I’ve written before about how using social data in advertising would be incredibly effective). My guess is that we will continue to see slow increases in the amount of personal data used to target advertising with little widespread objection.