Today’s marketers have a seemingly (and exhaustingly) endless number of ways to target their audiences, especially with the proliferation of various digital platforms. We can target by location, profession, personal interests, search terms, and even previous visitors to our websites.  Marketers use a combination of these methods to varying degrees. But the end goal is always the same – make the proverbial cash register ring by leveraging targeted impulse buying opportunities created by analyzing usage data.

Now marketers have a new way to target their audiences: behaviorally. And it’s all made possible by Amazon, the world’s favorite online retailer. Last year, Amazon quietly launched (and more recently announced) its Amazon Advertising Platform, a full-fledged advertising network that uses algorithms to target consumers beyond its retail site and other owned properties like, Zappos, or IMDb.

Like Google’s advertising network, Amazon buys ad inventory from content publishers or exchanges and uses in-house technology to follow you and flash display (banner) ads in real-time as you browse the Web. Its network reaches across thousands of websites based out of the United States, Britain, and Germany. And it doesn’t stop there. Amazon is now targeting mobile ads across multiple devices, including all Android-operated devices – smartphones and tablets, such as the Kindle Fire – and, yes, iPhones and iPads.

 So what’s the big deal?  Unlike Google, in its relatively nascent stage of data gathering, Amazon has recorded nearly two decades worth of shopping data – including the purchasing behavior of 209 million customers who shopped on its site in the last 12 months alone. This info is a gold mine for advertisers, whom Amazon will charge a premium because Amazon ads are better targeted, according to industry analysts.

 “Amazon is not a retailer anymore, it is the largest behavioral marketing company in the world,” said Yaakov Kimelfeld, chief research officer at Kantar Media Compete, in an April article by Reuters

 Think about this: Amazon has already surpassed Twitter’s ad revenue. According to a June report published by eMarketer, Amazon’s advertising revenue reached $610 million in 2012, an increase of 46 percent from 2011, and the company’s worldwide ad revenue is estimated to increase another 37 percent this year to $835 million. In fact, the online retailer is forecasted to surpass annual ad revenue for early adopters AOL and LinkedIn by 2015.

 Do you shop on Amazon? Don’t be surprised at the increase of ads you see of brands you use often, as well as their competitors. Big Brother is watching and, now, reaping! 

Google: lookout.

Marketers: rejoice.