Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

This year, “Amazon aimed to sell at least $20 million in sponsorships for this year’s list, the documents show,” according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg notes that while “it’s perfectly legal for Amazon to sell advertising on its site … it becomes a problem when the world’s largest online retailer tells shoppers recommendations are curated by experts but doesn’t disclose the money it gets from the toy industry, said Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.” 

Companies may prefer to keep the finances out of it because consumers tend to put more trust in expert recommendations than paid advertisements. The law regarding what should be disclosed and when is murky.

Amazon said the following in a statement: “Every product on our annual Holiday Toy List, which features family gift ideas from new releases to customer favorites, is independently curated by a team of in-house experts based on a high bar for quality, design, innovation and play experience. We source product ideas from many places, including our selling partners who have an opportunity to nominate their best toys for the season and increase visibility of those toys.”

Other retailers use similar approaches. For example, Walmart charges a $10,000 per month (per product) fee to appear on its “Buyer’s Picks” toy list around the holidays.