Amazon takes down ads containing religious content, which has negatively affected the product sales of some small sellers.
According to the report, several sellers noticed their ads get prohibited for including religious language. They then received an email about a “new policy update” with the e-commerce giant which bars any advertisement with religious messages. “Products related to a specific religion are not allowed to be advertised,” says an Amazon representative in one email received by a seller.
One Amazon seller said that the ad suspension resulted in a considerable loss in his revenue.
The individual, who requested anonymity due to fear of any retaliation from Amazon, has been with Amazon for the last two years selling apparels containing bible and Christian messages. The description used in his ads for his items is “Christian Fashion Gifts,” and featured photos of the products with religious language and quotes on them.
The seller asked Amazon for the details of the ad suspension via email, and the company replied stating the ad contented did not adhere to the company’s “new policy.” The seller was told that ads from other sellers containing the same content about religion would be removed as well.
The seller was very concerned about the drawback of the change in his sales. Ads are the instrument used to boost sales on Amazon as they provide more visibility across the site. However, the “new policy” prohibits all sellers with religious items from advancing their brands. As of Friday, the suspension on the seller’s ads still hasn’t been lifted.
The seller said in an email that their revenue on the platform is tightly connected with the ads that they make, and the event is inimical to their business.
Identical incidents that happened in the past. A post last February states that a seller was informed that Amazon is working to cease all ads containing religious products. In a different post last month, it was said that rosaries are banned from ads since they are considered religious in nature.
Ad Suspension Just a Snafu
Amazon says that the ad suspension was a mistake on their part. The company told CNBC that no fresh policy updates have been implemented and stressed that the advertisements should haven’t been suspended. Their employees are also now being re-trained.
Amazon’s spokesperson specifically said “The email that CNBC viewed contains inaccurate information and our long-standing policies have not changed. Corrective training is being provided to the relevant teams.”
The event is only one of the many instances where sellers in the Amazon marketplace got caught in a skirmish as the company continues to struggle to manage the continuous growth of its third-party platform. The marketplace now holds more than 50-percent of the e-commerce giant’s volume. The company previously snuffed out a growing issue with fraud items wherein bad actors made false counterfeit reports to take legitimate sellers off the platform.
With that, marketplace sellers started to use Amazon advertisement to get ahead of the competition. While the company is gaining significant revenue through e-commerce and Amazon Web Services, Amazon is also creating billions in their ad revenue through institutions that pay them so that the latter can make their products show up outstandingly on search results and other parts of the site.
The company segment, consisting of mostly revenues from advertising, notched $2.72 billion during the first quarter with a 36% growth than last year. Even though the rise is slower than what it made in 2018, Amazon now ranks third in the top digital ad players in the United States following Google and Facebook, eMarketer says.
The snafu comes from the e-commerce giant comes in a critical time as the other given mammoth tech platforms have been receiving belligerent reactions from legislators, regulators, and the media for their ad models.
Facebook, for example, seemed to failed avoiding its ad platform from serving as an instrument for discriminatory ads. Earlier this year, the social media company was slapped with fines by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for allowing housing discrimination.
Google, on the other hand, had to answer a report from BuzzFeed exposing how the company allowed ads using discriminatory search terms. Both tech companies have also been faced criticisms about their data collection policies and the manner their user data is being shared over the other advertisers.
CNBC implied that steering away from some controversial ad topics may help Amazon avoiding similar criticism faced by other two tech giants. After all, Amazon said in their ad policy page that they “believe maintaining a high customer experience bar for the ads we serve helps us drive better results for you, our advertisers.”