Everyone from GigaOm to the WSJ has been buzzing about Amazon potentially upping their display game, based on a recent report by Ben Schachter of Macquerie Research. While Amazon already has a developed display program the thought of them expanding to off-site advertising on a data level opens up so many possibilities.

Amazon sits on mountains of cross-category data — in addition to rich purchase information (card type, zip/area code, gender, gift buyer, gift giver, presence of children, etc.) they are in a unique position to create highly specific affinity segments based on purchase & browse frequency — perhaps the very same segments that are the basis of their personalization engine. Just this past week I’ve searched for a multitude of classical pieces, looked at a couple of  guitars, leafed through some Kindle sci-fi, and started researching a new camera (it’s been a rather slow Amazon week for me). Based on past shopping patterns, that’s an opportunity for Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Neal Stephenson’s publisher. If I were a brand digital marketer, I would be pricking up my ears at the possibilities. Amazon will know that I already display a slight brand affinity towards Nikon, and making that information available to Nikon off-site could likely shorten my time  spent researching and turn me into a consumer quicker (perhaps by *hint, hint* offering me a snazzy accessory bundle).

Of course, this kind of modeling extends to on-site advertising and content presentation too: Nikon could effectively ‘bid’ to tailor my experience when I inevitably return to the Amazon site, in a similar manner they would bid for display ads through a DSP (ok, I’m reaching slightly here, but the possibility and potential is palpable).

When we first started talking about Demdex and data management platforms we thought that e-commerce companies would be the first to jump on the data bandwagon mostly because they have such rich data sets and expertise in data modeling. That’s not quite how things played out and I will confess that that has always struck me as odd. The possibility that Amazon is entering strongly into the data advertising space can hopefully change this for the better.