November 26, 2012, 1:15 PM

Amazon takes a Page out of Facebook’s playbook

The retailer’s marketing arm lets retailers create brand pages.

Lead Photo

Amazon Marketing Services, the marketing arm of Amazon.com Inc., has rolled out a service called Amazon Pages that enables retailers, to create socially connected, image-focused pages on Amazon.com.

Pages appears to be influenced by the look of Facebook timeline pages; both Facebook’s and Amazon’s pages feature a large hero shot at the top of the screen. Below that large image, Amazon retailers can choose from one of three templates to customize the look of their Pages. Two of the templates, called All Products and Posts With Merchandising, include a merchandising widget the enables a retailer to display either links to products or product images along with an Add to Cart button. Under the widget a retailer can choose to display either a posts feed or a product gallery that enables a consumer to click on an image to add a product to her Amazon shopping cart.

The third template, called Posts Only, is for merchants looking to present shoppers with a “focused message,” says Amazon in a document explaining Amazon Pages. The page features the brand’s posts, along with a “brief brand message,” but no way for shoppers to purchase an item without leaving the page.

Amazon gives marketers several tools to customize their Amazon Pages, including the ability to add a Facebook Like or Twitter Follow button to an Amazon brand Page by clicking Add Like Button or Add Follow Button.

Posts on Amazon Pages are limited to 140 characters, the same length as on Twitter. However, while a retailer can use Amazon Posts’ tools to simultaneously post on Amazon Pages and Facebook, they cannot do so on Twitter.

To help marketers understand what posts and images spur shoppers to make a purchase, Amazon offers analytics tools that track whether consumers click from a retailer’s page and complete a purchase. Amazon also gathers data such as how many people have viewed a retailer’s post, as well as demographic data, such as where those customers are located.

Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is pushing the pages as a means for retailers to distinguish their presences on Amazon’s online marketplace. The pages come complete with a unique URL that follows the format www.amazon.com/brandname, so for instance, the URL for Nike’s Page would be www.amazon.com/nike.

With Amazon Pages, the retailer appears to be looking to improve the content on its site, says Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

"I think Amazon knows it has bad product pages," she says. "This is a way to enhance that content without having to invest in more people or content."

The move is also a sign that retailers are getting increasingly serious about social media, says Lou Kerner, a social media analyst and investor at The Social Internet Fund. "We're rapidly moving to a point where social is a layer across everything on the Internet," he says. "This is a sign the most important retailer on the web recognizes that."

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