Amazon Brand Detector

Two months ago, The Markup — a big-tech watchdog site — published a piece about how Amazon prioritizes its own “brands” first above better rated (and/or cheaper) products. This came as no surprise to me.

I've found Amazon increasingly useless over the past few years. Its search results are cluttered with ads. Sometimes my searches fail to show products I know the company stocks and sells. And Amazon Prime has lost its luster as shipping times have lengthened and Prime Video has become increasingly superfluous.

So, to learn that Amazon cheats search results by crowding out better and cheaper products in favor of it own stuff was no big shock. Yet another reason for me to take my business elsewhere, when possible. From the article:

We found that knowing only whether a product was an Amazon brand or exclusive could predict in seven out of every 10 cases whether Amazon would place it first in search results. These listings are not visibly marked as “sponsored” and they are part of a grid that Amazon identifies as “search results” in the site’s source code. (We only analyzed products in that grid, ignoring modules that are strictly for advertising.)

Despite its problems, Kim and I still find ourselves ordering from Amazon relatively often. It'd be nice to have some way to sort out some of the crap. Now there is.

Following its October article, The Markup set out to create a browser plugin that helps to identify Amazon brands (and Amazon exclusives) in the site's search results, making it easier to detect when those search results have been manipulated. Here's their description of Amazon brand detector:

Few respondents in a 1,000-person national survey we commissioned recognized the best-selling Amazon brands as owned by the company, apart from Amazon Basics.

So we decided to add some transparency for Amazon shoppers. The Markup created a browser extension that identifies these products and makes their affiliation to Amazon clear.

Brand Detector highlights product listings of Amazon brands and exclusive products by placing a box around them in Amazon’s signature orange. This happens live while shoppers browse the website.

If you too are wary of the world's third-largest company, give this browser extension a whirl. You may find it useful.

(If Amazon Brand Detector interests you, you might also like Fakespot.)

More about...Apps, Shopping

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1 month ago

You might want to do some research on white label products, who actually makes them (they’re often the same products made by the major brands under a different name), and their ubiquity across virtually all retail – including your local stores. Been a subscriber to this blog for a decade now, but seeing it degenerate into the same tired, uninformed, Amazon bashing that’s everywhere these days really isn’t worth my time. Also note: these browser extensions are collecting data on your shopping habits and selling it. They’re not the good guys. Best of luck.

Kiryn
Kiryn
1 month ago

It’s not the Amazon products that made me stop shopping there, it’s the piles and piles of cheap knockoff things. You know the ones. The same item sold by ten different companies with different unpronounceable names, all for generally the same price (a $5 item sold for $15 because “free shipping” just means the shipping cost is baked into the price). There are so many listings that they crowd out any actual good products. Overall, the Amazon-branded products I’ve bought have actually been pretty good quality compared to the cheap garbage sold by these throwaway companies. Walmart appears to have… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 month ago
Reply to  Kiryn

This episode of Reply All was super interesting and helped me understand a lot of what’s going on in the background of Amazon (and Wal-Mart) sales from overseas. I’ve given up on Amazon both because of their business practices, and because I no longer trusted that I wasn’t getting knock off/imitation items. https://gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-all/brhow4

JB
JB
1 month ago
Reply to  Kiryn

Yes, yes, and yes! The FBA model has ruined Amazon both for buyers and sellers. I’ve seen horror stories of people attempting to start FBA businesses (to get in on selling the same cheap crap to us) only to find themselves under attack by the other sellers. For shoppers, we’re inundated with these crappy products suitable more for Wish than Amazon. I’d love to see Amazon spin up an Amazon Flea Market for all of that junk and leave the real products on Amazon. As for Walmart, this year alone I’ve ordered multiple items that were $5-$15 cheaper than other… Read more »

Amy
Amy
1 month ago

Amazon’s website is horrible. Searching isn’t fun, the dizzying array of choices for a product isn’t fun, and it’s especially frustrating when you realize the reviews of the products can’t be trusted for honesty. I don’t have Prime myself (though I mooch prime video off a friend and am mostly enjoying wheel of time) and I think not having A Prime subscription is the key to not becoming dependent on Amazon. Sourcing items direct from their company websites has been easy enough, not buying the thing in the first place, or buying used also helps break the need for shopping… Read more »

David James
David James
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy

Wow! It’s news to me that people don’t like Amazon. I love it. They save me both time and money on a consistent basis. I don’t like a lot of what the internet has done to our world, but Amazon isn’t one of them.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
1 month ago

TBH I buy the amazon products specifically when I can because everything else on that site is a knockoff.

I’m disabled, don’t drive, and have difficulty using my hands (I use Dragon on my work laptop as part of my accommodations). I don’t have the time/energy to click around in search of the absolute best deal. I subscribe to amazon for fast delivery of reliable products.

Charlotte
Charlotte
1 month ago

I use google now to search for products. I buy them directly from the manufacturer whenever possible or a local store for pick up. We cancelled Amazon prime last year and we found that we bought less stuff in general! I like Target and by unsubscribing from Amazon, I found out that Target matches most of Amazon prices and even promos like buy 2 books, get 1 free etc. Side note: Target sells third-party items now as well so just make sure you know what you are buying.

KSmith
KSmith
1 month ago

Sorry, but 3rd party browser plugins scare me more than the “hassle” of filtering through Amazon owned products on their site.
These plugins are often riddled with security issues, not to mention activity trackers and data collectors to sell your information to undisclosed 3rd parties.
No thanks.