Amazon is offering a new program where users can receive $2 a month in Amazon funds if users allow the company to track information about how they view various Amazon and third-party ads on the site, per Insider.
The program is called “Ad verification”.
The company also offers $10 a month in Amazon credit or charitable donations if you upload 10 receipts for purchases made on non-Amazon sites, per the company’s page on the program called Amazon Shopper Panel. It is unclear if the $2 will be paid out in the same way.
The idea is that it should help customers get more personalized recommendations. The Q&A says Amazon will use the data “to help advertisers understand the relationship between ads and product purchases at an aggregate level,” but will not share it with “third parties.”
The program is “an opt-in, invitation-only program” where you can “earn monthly rewards by sharing receipts from purchases made outside of Amazon.com, completing short surveys and enabling ad verification for the ads they see from Amazon’s own advertising or third-party companies that advertise through Amazon Ads ,” as the company puts it.
The program is only available to people in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The launch of the ad verification site comes as Amazon’s stock is down about 44% since the start of the year and has reportedly implemented layoffs. As the outlet noted, other companies have attempted such schemes before from Google’s Screenwise in 2012 to Facebook’s VPN app tracking in 2016, but both were discontinued due to privacy concerns.
But Mark Weinstein, a privacy hawk and founder of the social media network MeWe, was not impressed.
“First of all, they’re not paying enough. Your data is worth a lot more than this,” Weinstein said Contractor.
He said he thought it was worth about $20 a month.
For context, Weinstein offered armchair math on a similar company: Meta, for example, said it has 2.96 billion monthly active users in its latest quarterly earnings report. If you divide the current market cap ($304.33 billion) into that, you get about $102.7 per user. That divided by 12 is about $9 per user per month, he notes.
However, it would be more difficult to analyze these numbers with Amazon, since the company does not report things like how many people buy on the company’s website each month.
Still, Weinstein said it’s likely that Amazon’s customers spend “much more” and thus generate more per head than the average Meta user.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said Insider that the only ones who can get the $2 reward must be invited. This also seems to be true for the $10 reward.
“Interested customers who have not received an invitation can download the app to join the waiting list and will be notified via email when a space becomes available,” the Shopper Panel page states.
Meanwhile, Weinstein said he would not advise people to sign up for the program because data breaches at large companies have become all too common. He pointed to Amazon’s October breach, which left an Amazon Prime server with users’ personal data that was not password protected — and the company’s new push into health care.
Amazon says it will get rid of sensitive user data “like prescription information from pharmacy receipts.”
Wired discussed earlier this month that privacy advocates were worried about Amazon getting into healthcare, especially when it comes to data. Amazon acquired OneMedical, a healthcare technology company, earlier this year.
Related: Amazon may buy One Medical. Here’s what that means for you.