• Amazon now offers 550 private-label and exclusives brands—a huge uptick that’s emerged in the past two years. But a new study by Marketplace Pulse of 23,000 products found that Amazon’s private-label and exclusive products are hardly real competition—and search result optimization isn’t converting to more sales. It turns out that case studies like AmazonBasics batteries, which has plummeted sales for both Energizer and Duracell, is an outlier. Most of its owned brands are generic and lack the type of messaging that gets shoppers interested. Amazon may be attempting to combat this with another aggressive ad initiative—last week, it launched an aggressive pop-up ad offensive on the Amazon app that marketed its private-label brands on competing product pages.
  • Amazon Web Services Pro-Rata Program launched last week to connect startups with VCs and offer investment opportunities through AWS. Amazon is making introductions between investors and startups that are fundraising, including Roman, a men’s health product company, Boom, a supersonic jet manufacturer and FreightWaves, a data and analytics provider.
  • Amazon is reducing royalties by 33% for video creators who upload their content on Prime Video Direct. Since 2016, the Prime Video Direct program has allowed media companies and creators to upload their videos alongside Amazon-produced and -licensed movies and TV. The program has allowed smaller video creators, which cannot easily break into the Netflixes or Hulus of the world, to gain traction on a high-potential platform, but the shrunken royalties make Amazon a less promising opportunity. This move follows Amazon’s decision in February 2017 to curb payment rates in its affiliate program—and yet another sudden upheaval to those that operate within its ecosystem.