Meta and Amazon make a deal to put the shopping in your socials

Thanks to a recent update, Facebook and Instagram users are now able to link their profiles to their personal Amazon accounts and do some online shopping on the social media websites.

The update comes as part of an apparent new partnership between Instagram and Facebook parent Meta and Amazon, however, neither company made a formal announcement letting everyone know of the changes. It appears to have been first “leaked” by Maurice Rahmey, co-CEO of Disruptive Digital, who shared his findings on LinkedIn. He states that Meta will utilize information obtained from Amazon to show users products that might interest them. If a user has an Amazon Prime membership, they will receive tailored ads with extra details such as “real-time pricing [plus] shopping estimates.” An Amazon representative told TechCrunch customers will even see specific details about a product and whether or not they’re eligible for Prime benefits.

There are some restrictions to the feature. It will only show “select products” on Meta’s platforms, but the products won’t be restricted to only what Amazon sells on its storefront. You will see independent sellers too. Be aware this update is only available to people in the United States.

Rolling out

It's unclear if the Amazon ads are currently live. 

We didn’t encounter any changes on our personal Facebook and Instagram accounts at the time of this writing. Nor were we able to connect our Meta profiles to the shopping platform. This seemed strange at first because both Maurice Rahmey as well as TechCrunch have videos on their respective posts revealing what the ads look like. They even demonstrate how to buy a product from one of them. Additionally, Rahmey claimed on his LinkedIn post that the refresh had “just rolled out” so we should’ve run into them. 

We reached out to both companies asking when people are going to see the ads. An Amazon spokesperson told us they are “available on a growing number of” products which we take to mean the patch is slowly making its way to users. Over time, you should see them crop up.  It’s unknown if there are plans to expand this partnership outside the United States. 

Both brands stayed quiet when we asked this question. It probably won't happen in Europe. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission recently banned “Meta’s social media platforms from using targeted ads” across the entire European Economic Area. This includes all EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2023.

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Microsoft’s new AI shopping tools will create a buying guide just for you

Online shopping can be difficult as you’ll have to sift through a ton of information before finding the right product for you. Microsoft aims to take some of that busy work out by introducing some, naturally, AI-powered shopping tools to Bing and Edge.

In total, there are three. First, you have Buying Guides, which as you can probably guess from the name, has Bing write up a literal buying guide telling you what to look for according to a certain category. The AI will show “specifications of multiple, similar items next to each other” on a table so you can easily compare your options without having to jump around a thousand different websites. It’ll even make some suggestions on what you should purchase. 

Microsoft claims Buying Guides are already available on Bing Chat in the United States, however, when we checked, it wasn't as widespread as we had hoped. It was able to create a guide for college supplies like in the video above, but when we asked the AI to make something for gaming headphones, nothing new came up. It was still the old version of Bing where you have to do a lot of the legwork yourself. It appears the update is releasing in waves.

Later on in the year, Microsoft plans on launching the tool internationally. As for Edge, its rendition of Buying Guides is “starting to roll out worldwide”. Be sure to keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives. 

Price tracking

Next is Review Summaries to help you decide between two products you’re interested in. What it does is grab information from reviews to then “briefly summarize what people are saying about it online” through Bing's chatbot. Microsoft states the tool will “provide a quick look at top insights and popular opinions about [a] product”, all in an effort to save you a ton of time. The feature is currently rolling out to all global regions.

The final tool is Price Match, which will monitor an item’s price tag over time and then help you request a retailer match the new number “if it drops.” To make this helpful tool possible, the company partnered up with US retailers that already have price match policies in place. We don’t know the companies honoring the feature apart from Microsoft itself. Interestingly enough, there are plans to have more retailers honor the policy down the line. 

Microsoft says Price Match will soon launch exclusively in the United States. It’s unknown if there are plans to expand this tool internationally. We reached out to Microsoft for more information regarding a global rollout plus if it can tell us the retailers honoring Price Match. We’ll update this story at a later time.

As good as these shopping tools may seem, be sure to stay vigilant when dealing with generative AIs. They can’t totally be trusted as chatbots are “prone to spewing out misinformation”. We're not saying Bing's Buying Guides tool will lie or make up information, but the chance does exist. Developers like OpenAI are working on ways to stop hallucinations from appearing in their tech. However, sometimes, you just can’t beat the human touch.

Use these tools as a backup to guides written by real people. Speaking of which, check out TechRadar’s recently updated list of the best PCs you can buy for 2023.  

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