Four Reasons to Keep Control of Your Amazon Product Page Content

In December 2012, with no warning to their vendors or content providers, Amazon announced they would no longer be accepting third-party content for their product pages. Effective immediately, the world’s biggest online retailer would provide Amazon product page content services itself–for fees reaching as high as $2,500 per product page.

This meant companies who relied on agencies such as content26 would either have to build internal teams to produce their content or give control of their brand and product messaging to Amazon.

This shift would mark the fourth time since we began working with Amazon in 2004 that the company has changed its content model. From the recent launch of their A+ self-service template, it appears that Bezos and crew may be pivoting once again in the content field and putting control back into the hands of vendors. However, from what we hear, many clients are still being charged for Amazon content services, and several Amazon departments have yet to adopt the new tool.Amazon vies for control of product content with vendors. Image contains two hands, one pushing a box labeled "your product content" toward the other. It reads, "You should do it this way." "Should I?" Illustration by Breanne Boland.

If the template truly gives product page control back to manufacturers, kudos to Bezos for that decision. But as fair warning to companies who are not yet using the feature and who do not have their own agencies or teams to produce their product pages, here are four reasons you absolutely should never pay the world’s biggest online retailer (or any other retailer) to produce your product-page content.

  1. You Lose Content Ownership: When you pay Amazon to produce your Amazon product page content, you lose the rights to that content. Amazon owns it. This means you cannot repurpose it, in whole or in part, on other retail sites or in your marketing materials. If you can’t own it, don’t let them produce it.
  2. You Lose Messaging Control: Amazon will give your product information to an in-house or contract writer with whom you will have no interaction. You will suffer from WYGIWYG syndrome: What You Get Is What You Get. Do you really want the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars you have invested in your product development and marketing efforts be at the mercy of a process you have no control over? Do you let Walmart design your retail product box for you? Do you let NBC, ABC, the New York Times, Facebook, or any other media player produce your advertising?
  3. You Lose Sales Opportunities Because of Slow Content Development: Some of our clients paid Amazon tens of thousands of dollars for Amazon product page content and did not see a single page published for over six months. We know of an Amazon department that hired a single copywriter to fulfill orders for hundreds of product pages. We have clients that have returned to us after missing entire product launches because Amazon could not fulfill a single one of their content orders.
  4. You Will Spend Way Too Much Money: By commoditizing content production without investing in an adequate process to provide the service, Amazon can realize margins of 500 percent and higher. In other words, they profit from your content needs, and your margin suffers. In my opinion, Amazon should be satisfied with the increased sales that result from high-quality enhanced content, whatever the source.

If you let Amazon or any other retailer produce your product-detail content, you will lose ownership of the content, give up control of the messaging and timing of publication, and spend way too much money. Take control of your product pages by building an internal team or working with an agency such as content26 to build your content.