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article imageOp-Ed: Should Amazon drop Breitbart? Yes, for market reasons, too

By Paul Wallis     May 8, 2017 in Business
Washington - The much-touted idea of Amazon dropping Breitbart, as may be expected, is pretty much based on market perceptions in the media. The practical business values, however, may be more accurate long term values as a basis for assessment.
Breitbart is arguably the definitive Alt Right outlet. It appeals to a section of the market, and repels the rest of the market. Regardless of the many possible arguments about Breitbart content, it’s not a particularly big fish in the market, just very noisy, with a high profile.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is being petitioned to remove Amazon ads from Breitbart. It’s an interesting marketing position, but not a particularly helpful one, if you’re the guy making the decision. Do you publicly snub a sector of the population, if you’re a major global company? Not all that readily. It sends a message, and you have to decide if that’s the message you want to send.
Bezos works on the basis of what’s best for Amazon. He hasn’t expressed any opinions. Whether he approves of Breitbart isn’t the primary consideration. Is it the right business move? What about the various Trump-related products on Amazon? What about a boycott of Amazon based on boycotting Breitbart?
Arguably, as the world’s biggest distributor of anything and everything, Amazon doesn’t have to worry too much about negative effects. Bezos might worry about perceived unfairness, however. Amazon does have content values on its own sites, and if Breitbart is seen as a conflicting interest to those values, a fair decision would have to be based on Amazon values as understood by the market.
It might seem bizarre that the world’s shop for everything should have to worry about market “understanding” of anything it does. The practical reason for concern is consistency of Amazon policies, which is a much bigger fish than Breitbart can ever be.
Amazon policies drive an enormous amount of business. Do you naturally include a degree of difficulty in to what is a pretty straightforward marketing process? Do you create a possible hurdle for your own business?
Strategically, no. You don't just naturally reduce your market reach with procedural or arbitrary decisions. The other side of that argument, however, is how long is Breitbart likely to be relevant to the market? Does it have any actual market value to Amazon, now or in the future? Does a whale have to be nice to a minnow?
According to Alexa, Breitbart spiked in users during the campaign, and then went straight back down.
It’s a very odd spike, a plateau of users starting in October 2016, followed by straight off the cliff in April this year, straight back to the original user numbers. Bunched users, for a news site? Not very likely. Looks more like "Wow, ain't we interesting?" for a short period, followed by nothing at all in actual commercial values. The more likely profile for any news site is a bit of a peak, followed by a more gradual decline after the election hysteria. Breitbart is currently ranked 294 in the US, in a mixed mess of news media. Its core user base is 5 countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Canada, and, interestingly, China.
Compare this to the Amazon Alexa ranking of number 5 in US sites, number 11 globally, and a totally different base market, which is also global. Any dropping of Breitbart would have an effect in the US and UK, but with clickthroughs being what they are, you’re not talking about major sales issues outside the US, even in theory. Breitbart isn’t a significant sales asset to Amazon.
Bottom line – Breitbart needs Amazon. Amazon doesn’t need Breitbart.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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