Amazon gives Apple’s product pages the special treatment and keeps them relatively clear of unrelated ads, signifying an arrangement between the companies, according to Insider. When the Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust lawsuit against the e-commerce retailer in September, it accused Amazon of “deliberately increasing junk ads that worsen search quality.” However, Insider found that the pages for Apple products, such as “iPhone” and “iPad,” show a clean page layout with no ads or recommendation. Meanwhile, products from rival brands, including Samsung Galaxy and Microsoft Surface, show multiple banner ads and several sponsored recommendations from other brands.
We tried it out ourselves and did find that Apple’s product pages do look cleaner. Microsoft Surface Pro’s, however, showed a carousel of sponsored listings “4 stars and above,” along with products related to the specific item and multiple banner ads. Insider says Apple asked Amazon to keep its product pages free of ad clutter back in 2018, based on an email shared by the House Judiciary Committee. “We understand that Apple does not want to drive sales to competing brands in search or detail pages,” Jeff Wilke, who was then Amazon’s retail CEO, reportedly wrote.
Apple has admitted to the publication that it has some sort of an agreement with Amazon that prevents other companies from buying ads for “specific Apple-related brand queries” on the latter’s marketplace. They can still buy ads for key phrases with an Apple name, say “iPad keyboard case,” but not for “iPad” itself. “Apple’s goal for the Agreements was to create the best possible customer experience, and others are free to do the same,” Apple’s representative said in a statement. They added that the deal was also meant to address the company’s issues with counterfeit products on the platform, because it used to send Amazon “hundreds of thousands of take-down notices” before then.
While it’s not clear whether money exchanged hands between the two companies, the email shared by the House talked about a potential financial deal. Amazon reportedly turned down Apple’s request at first, but Wilke wrote in the email: “We cannot alter our organic search algorithm to return only Apple products in the search results when an Apple team is searched… Apple would need to purchase these placements or compensate Amazon for the lost ad revenue.”