Amazon Sense? Amazon Omakase?

July 25th, 2006 by Chris

When I was blogging for SitePoint I broke the news about “Amazon Sense” or rather Amazon wanting to compete with Adsense with a similar program, it got like a billion trackbacks and I really wish I had broke the news here instead. I had been contacted about joining a beta program for testing ads which would be run similar to Adsense and include ads from, but also eventually third parties. I had to decline this beta because one of their requirements was that you could not use it and Adsense at the same time.

Well Amazon recently launched a new link format for their associates program called “Omakase” which is apparently the Japanese word for “Entrust.”

These ads seem to be what Amazon was talking about, though I cannot know for sure since I was not in their beta. However as far as I can tell they are just Amazon product ads, no third party ads, yet. The ads also differ from the typical Adsense implementation in that they include an image for every link.

This program is still marked as being in beta but I believe that all associates should have access if they login to their account.

The most interesting thing for these ads that I can tell is that Amazon doesn’t just target them to your site, they also target them to your visitors. For instance I was recently shopping on Amazon for red Kitchenaid nonstick frying pans. Every Omakase ad I’ve so far viewed has been advertising those products. has the worlds best customer database as far as product recommendations go, you go there and they let you know things you might be interested in and when you’ve bought so many things on Amazon like I have (hundreds easy), the recommendations get pretty good. So I’ll basically see such recommendations in these ads wherever I view them at and that has got to increase conversions.

It is so hard to target ads effectively. You can base ads on your content, but people aren’t always interested buying items related your content. With this Amazon program, assuming they’re an Amazon customer, they can be shown ads for products that they’ve shopped for before. That kind of desire targeting, from an ad network, is unheard of.

Maybe, maybe, Google could eventually compete with that if their Google Buy service takes off and they can obtain a large amount of customer data. However privacy advocates might not like all that tracking.

This is really a coup for, to know what someone is interested in, to know what type of products, specifically or in general, that someone buys. No other ad network can really do that.

I cannot speak for performance yet, on these ads, but I imagine they’ll perform excellently, and of course, if your visitors are not Amazon customers, they will see ads targeted to your content.

Of course, being in beta, this program does not have all the kinks worked out yet. Content based targeting is questionable, such as with YPN in the beginning. As well the format options for the links aren’t as flexible as Google or YPN. For instance most serious publishers know that to get the most effective CTR you want to blend in your ad by removing the border. Well Amazon keeps their large logo on the left for banners and the top for skyscrapers. You can turn this logo off, but instead of replacing with a simple “Ads by Amazon” text, they keep a long skinny border with that text in instead. So there is no way to effectively remove the border on anymore than 3 sides.

As far as I know, Amazon has not placed any limit on the number of units per page, so unlike Google’s 3 or Yahoo’s 4, you could conceivably use as many units as you want, which is good if you have very content rich pages with many ad locations.

I am also not entirely sure if it would be permissible to use these ads with Adsense or YPN ads. Amazon does not have any rules against it apparently, and as for YPN’s & Adsense’s rules, I’m not sure they apply since these are typical Amazon product links that in appearance look the same as those that have been used for years. If one day Amazon starts doing the third-party ads and ends up more like Adsense, then it’d be clear, but now I’m not entirely sure.

If you’re an Amazon associate, go check them out. Also check out any Amazon easy-links or Amazon Recommends links you already use, as I’ve noticed some of them now serving Omakase like content. If you’re not yet an Amazon associate you can check them out here.

3 Responses to “Amazon Sense? Amazon Omakase?”

  1. Chris  Says:

    Apparently Google has given their blessing on running Omakase on the same page:

    Thanks for your email. According to our program policies, Amazon’s Omakase may be displayed on the same page as Google ads on your site.

  2. Peach  Says:

    This remind be of that sci-fi movie with tom cruise or something, where advertisements speak to you in cities and know stuff about you.

    Should be great for us webmasters though, to have this power.

  3. John  Says:

    Amazon does give you an option of not including images in ads.

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