Skip navigation

Amazon’s Advantage

Introducing Amazon Brand Detector

A browser extension that reveals Amazon brand and exclusive products while you shop on the site

The words "Amazon Brand Detector" under an icon with an eye. In the background there are pairs of items, with orange boxes highlighting one of the pair.
Gabriel Hongsdusit

Amazon has registered more than 150 private-label brands with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and carries hundreds of thousands of items from these house brands on its site. A recent investigation by The Markup found that the online shopping behemoth often gives its own brands and exclusive products a leg up in search results over better-rated competitors. We also found Amazon is inconsistent in disclosing to shoppers that those products are Amazon-brand products or exclusives.

Few respondents in a 1,000-person national survey we commissioned recognized the best-selling Amazon brands as owned by the company, apart from Amazon Basics.

So we decided to add some transparency for Amazon shoppers. The Markup created a browser extension that identifies these products and makes their affiliation to Amazon clear.

Brand Detector highlights product listings of Amazon brands and exclusive products by placing a box around them in Amazon’s signature orange. This happens live while shoppers browse the website. 

Animated screengrab of Amazon website scrolling with the Amazon Brand Detector plugin activated. Amazon brands are shown stained with a yellow background.
A search for “fleece,” with Amazon Essentials and other Amazon-branded products highlighted in orange by Brand Detector. Source: Amazon.com/The Markup Amazon Brand Detector

The selective staining is inspired by a lab technique in biology called an assay, which we also applied to web pages in a past investigation about Google. That investigation revealed that the tech giant’s search engine gave Google properties 41 percent of real estate on the first page of popular searches.

↩︎ link

How Does It Work?

The browser extension uses various techniques developed and refined during our year-long investigation to identify Amazon brands and exclusive products (read more in our methodology).This includes checking a list of proprietary products we created and cross-referencing Amazon’s “our brands” filter. The extension is available for Chrome (and other chromium-based browsers) and Firefox browsers.

The extension sits in the background until the user visits Amazon’s portal in the United States (amazon.com), Australia (amazon.com.au), Canada (amazon.ca), Germany (amazon.de), India (amazon.in), Italy (amazon.it), Japan (amazon.co.jp), Mexico (amazon.com.mx), Spain (amazon.es), or the United Kingdom (amazon.co.uk) and searches for something. At that point, Brand Detector identifies Amazon brands and exclusives and highlights them on the search results page. (It does not extend the product page.) 

Because the “our brands” filter is not comprehensive, the extension also cross-references products against a list of proprietary electronics we found from Amazon’s best sellers section (which Amazon doesn’t include in the “our brands” filter) and performs partial text matching for phrases like “Amazon brand” and “Featured from our brands” and full text-matching for “AmazonBasics” and a few other brand names that didn’t tend to return false positives in our tests.

Even with these techniques, the extension may still miss some Amazon brand or exclusive products from time to time.

Amazon Brand Detector does not collect any data, in keeping with The Markup’s privacy policy. We won’t know how you used it, if at all, what you searched for or what you end up buying. 

The extension only works on desktop browsers, not mobile apps.

↩︎ link

Cross-Extension Compatibility

The extension can work in conjunction with other extensions, such as Fakespot, which affixes a letter grade to any Amazon product based on the authenticity of reviews for that product. Users can use these extensions together to find Amazon brands and exclusive products and their Fakespot grades.

Credit:Amazon.com/The Markup Amazon Brand Detector/Fakespot
Screenshot of an Amazon search page for bath salts, with the first result (Solimo Epson Salt) surrounded by the Brand Detector app's orange. There is a small c in a yellow square above the image in the result, indicating the Fakespot grade.
Caption: Screenshot of an Amazon search for “bath salts” using Fakespot and Brand Detector. Note the Fakespot “C” grade above the product photo. Captured Nov. 12, 2021.

The extension also works with full-page screenshot extensions, like “Awesome Screenshot & Screen Recorder.” You can use these to capture an entire search page stained by the extension.

The Markup is not affiliated with these extensions, nor do we endorse them.

↩︎ link

Try It Out:

↩︎ link

Enhance your Amazon shopping by knowing which products are from Amazon’s own brands and exclusives.

How did we do that?

Independent journalism. Tech expertise. Data-driven analysis. And you.

That’s what drives The Markup and what makes it the unparalleled nonprofit newsroom for using technology to hold technology to account.

Reader support is an essential piece of our equation. Building a better future is not only possible, it’s happening right now—thanks to you.

Donate Now