January 27, 2023

Amazon is offering a new program where users can receive $2 per month in Amazon funds if users allow the company to track information about how they see various Amazon and third-party ads on the site, per Insider.

KAZUHIRO NOGI / Contributor I Getty Images

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Japan.

The program is called “Ad Verification”.

The company also offers $10 a month in Amazon balances or charitable donations if you upload 10 receipts for purchases on non-Amazon sites, according to the program’s business page called the Amazon Shopper Panel. It’s unclear if the $2 would be paid out in the same way.

The idea is that it will help customers get more personalized recommendations. The Q&A says Amazon will use the data “to help advertisers understand the relationship between ads and product purchases on an aggregated level,” but will not share it with “third parties.”

The program is “an opt-in, invitation-only program” where you can “earn monthly rewards by sharing receipts of purchases made outside of Amazon.com, completing short surveys, and enabling ad verification for the ads they serve.” in Amazon’s own ads or third-party companies that advertise through Amazon Ads,” as the company puts it.

The program is only available to people in the US and UK.

The launch of the Ad Verification side comes as Amazon’s stock is down about 44% since the start of the year and reportedly sparked layoffs. As the outlet noted, other companies have tried such schemes before, from Google’s Screenwise in 2012 to Facebook’s VPN app tracker in 2016, but both have dropped due to privacy concerns.

But Mark Weinstein, a privacy hawk and founder of the social media network MeWe, was not impressed.

“First of all, they don’t pay enough. Your data is worth a lot more than this,” Weinstein said Entrepreneur.

He said he thought it was worth about $20 a month.

For context, Weinstein offered armchair math at a similar company: Meta, for example, said it has 2.96 billion monthly active users in its most recent quarterly earnings. If you divide the current market cap ($304.33 billion) into that, you get about $102.7 per user. That divided by 12 is about $9 per user per month, he notes.

It would be harder to parse those numbers with Amazon, though, since the company doesn’t report things like how many people make purchases each month on the company’s site.

Still, Weinstein said it’s likely Amazon’s customers spend “a lot more” and thus generate more per capita than the average Meta user.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said so Insider that the only people who can get the $2 reward should be invited. This also seems to apply to the $10 reward.

“Interested customers who have not received an invitation can download the app to join the waitlist and will be notified via email when space becomes available,” says the Shopper Panel site.

Meanwhile, Weinstein said he wouldn’t advise people to sign up for the program because data breaches at large companies have become all too common. He pointed to Amazon’s breach in October, which left an Amazon Prime server with users’ personal data that wasn’t password-protected — and the company’s new move into healthcare.

Amazon says it will delete sensitive user data “such as prescription information from drugstore receipts”.

Wired discussed earlier this month that privacy advocates were concerned that Amazon would get into healthcare, particularly where data is concerned. Amazon acquired OneMedical, a healthcare technology company, earlier this year.

Related: Amazon can take over one medical product. Here’s what that means for you.

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