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Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) is beefing up its online advertising team, according to this morning's New York Post. The e-tail giant is hiring away senior Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) executive Lisa Utzschneider to become senior vice president of national ad sales.
If it sounds peculiar to have Amazon selling Internet advertising, you probably don't know Amazon as well as you thought.
Amazon is unlikely to ramp up advertising on its namesake marketplace, but the rules are different for its other dot-com traffic magnets, such as movie hub IMDB.com and Web-trends monitor Alexa.com. Its other recent Web endeavors include the acquisition of booklovers' social network Shelfari and the launch of its SoundUnwound music wiki.
There's a lot of billable ad space there for the monetizing. One has to imagine that Amazon's Askville site or even its A9.com search engine could become higher priorities, if the company had the ad inventory to truly milk the most out of its page views.
That's the difference between Amazon and Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) . The movie-rental giant experimented with banner ads two summers ago and abandoned the venture seven months later. But Amazon has a broader scope of sites and customers. It also doesn't hurt that many of its merchants and suppliers are active online advertisers elsewhere.
Amazon isn't a threat to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , Microsoft, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , or even IAC's (Nasdaq: IACID ) Ask.com. However, all of those companies have gradually become threats to Amazon. Yahoo! has been enabling online storefronts for years. Google offers its comparison-shopping site. Microsoft may be a potentially bigger enemy, now that it's rattling the industry by paying shoppers to go through its Cashback portal.
If they're gunning for you, it doesn't hurt to point your own crosshairs their way.
Other chapters in the Amazon story that never ends: