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I was just browsing at some products on Amazon, without being logged in to Amazon, and then I noticed at the bottom the 'Recent Searches' box - which showed searches I had made from Google and had never clicked through to Amazon for.

Can someone explain this to me? Why is Amazon tracking my searches like this?

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5 Answers 5

Do you any extensions (FasterFox for example) or plugins installed that could be pre-fetching the links on the google search page, this would cause what you're observing as the browser (along with your amazon cookies) would still be hitting those pages.

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Interesting idea - not that I know of, but I just did a quick try without any extensions enabled and the history didn't seem to come up, so I think you are onto something. One of my extensions must be leaking my searches. –  tobeannounced Jul 20 '10 at 22:33

If you have the Invisible Hand extension installed, this information can be leaked. See http://www.cnet.com/8301-31361_1-20004265-254.html

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My guess is, Amazon is buying this data from Google. When you go to Amazon to do a search, regardless of whether you are logged in or not, Amazon is recording your IP address and what you searched for.

If you do not make the purchase, Amazon knows this. Amazon then pays Google a fee for to push ads to your IP address with exactly the same product that you searched for on Amazon.

If you asked Google to not provide your data, they would laugh in your face.

The only realy way to stop this would be to find some sort of IP translation program that would hide your real IP address from Amazon. Wait until Google buys Amazon. :)

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Google does not offer their data for sale this way. –  Soren 2 days ago

Amazon does often have an advert bar at the bottom of some of it's pages, including the front page (not sure if it matters if you're a logged in user or not, but I don't always see the advert).

It could just be a Google ad in a standard ad bar at the bottom of the page, and nothing to do with Amazon at all.

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Thanks for the suggestion, but it wasn't an ad. It redirects to a 'view and manage your history' page. –  tobeannounced Jul 20 '10 at 22:34

This is a lot less complex then you are thinking.

Whenever you click a link in your browser, the new web page is sent the URL (e.g. http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=http+refarer) of the page you clicked the link on.

Amazon is just making use of this and has been programmed to understand Google URLs as so many people come to Amazon from a Google search.

(Most browsers will let you turn this off, but that is a question to ask on SuperUser)

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Sorry, but it is not this - I mentioned in my question: 'which showed searches I had made from Google and had never clicked through to Amazon for.' So there were queries shown that I had made on Google and Amazon never even appeared in the search results for that were shown on Amazon to me. –  tobeannounced Jul 21 '10 at 9:48
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In 2010 any site which received a click would have the search referrer header with the search terms -- so you didn't have to click on Amazon for amazon to gain access -- it would be collected by third parties (such as addthis) and sold for analytic purposes -- however in 2014 Google no longer send the refer header with search terms. –  Soren 2 days ago

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