By Chris Beasley

Amazon is apparently looking into the feasibility of starting their own ad network like Adsense. They’ve been contacting select members of their associates programs, including myself, asking if we’d like to be beta testers. The way they want the beta test to work is to give you a special code for Amazon’s Keywords Recommends banners (the banners that you feed a keyword to and they show related products) and have this special code then show these new ads 50% of the time.

When I first heard about this I thought it’d be Amazon product listings displayed in an Adsense-like way and I figured it’d analyze your content for for products to serve, but they’d be Amazon products. Turns out I was wrong, they want their own contextual advertising network.

On the phone last night it was explained to me that this is more or less an Adsense clone, meaning third party sponsored links, not Amazon links. It is known that Amazon currently get’s sponsored links for their own sites from Google, but apparently they wish to take out the middleman and break out on their own. The fact is that while Amazon has a high gross revenue, they have really thin profit margins, whereas Google and even eBay have much better profit margins. So I think there is probably a little bit of business jealousy at work here, and rightly so. Amazon realizes that if they want to compete as a major Internet destination, not just an ecommerce site, they need to capture a larger chunk of the online advertising revenue. It’s kinda funny, 5 years ago people were speaking about the death of online advertising, and now its huge.

So anyways, if they go through with this, then once MSN’s AdCenter program is launched, and Yahoo’s Publisher Network goes out of beta, that’ll give us publishers 4 choices in this area and choice is never a bad thing.

Consequently I do not know if they’re having much luck finding beta testers. For obvious reasons you cannot co-serve their ads with those from Adsense, so for testing you really need to find a high traffic site that is willing to forgo Adsense revenue. Originally their deadline for signing up for the beta was the 31st of January, then they called me last night, past the deadline, and asked me to join still (but I again turned them down because Adsense is just too profitable for me, and with Adsense’s exclusivity requirements I’d have to forgo using them to be in this test). They also previously offered a $50 bonus for everyone who signs up, and that bonus is now $100.

Keep your eyes open for more developments.

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