NEW YORK: Amazon, the retail giant, is enhancing the suite of advertising products it makes available to marketers, with targeted ads proving to be an area of particular interest.

Having begun selling ads on its pages six years ago, Amazon now provides a range of options to brands, covering its own portfolio of properties alongside Kindle ereaders and several third-party websites.

"We've been heads down, focused on building an advertising offering and solution that is right for marketers and right for our customers," Lisa Utzschneider, the Amazon Media Group's vice president, global sales, told the Financial Times.

Amazon itself has run targeted ads based on data drawn from some 188m active customers, having created an in-house system capable of personalising messages for visitors and those leaving its sites.

The company's real-time advertising platform has also been used by a select group of other firms seeking to gain the benefits of Amazon's rich stream of information about user habits.

"Today, if you're browsing the web, you might see an Amazon advertisement based on Amazon's data. Tomorrow, you may see an ad from Coca-Cola based on Amazon data, and it'll run through the Amazon platform," Jeff Green, CEO of The Trade Desk, a demand-side ad platform, told Mashable.

Amazon does not provide a precise breakdown of its ad revenues, but includes them in the "other" part of its sales figures. For the nine months to September 30, 2012, this category saw 58% growth to $1.7bn.

Colin Gillis, a technology analyst at BGC Partners, argued Amazon has one key advantage over many other leading internet platforms which could see it become more of a threat.

"What's the difference between a user and a customer? The difference is a customer has given you their credit card data. Google has millions of users, but far fewer customers," he said.

"Every time I'm convinced I have another medical ailment, I go to Google. But Amazon, what they have is really about my purchase intent."

A campaign for Lysol Power & Free, a cleaning line made by Reckitt Benckiser, yielded a 35% increase to this offering's traffic on Amazon, meaning this, as much as attracting adspend, might be the goal.

"The question that is open: is this Amazon competing with Google or is this Amazon competing with Walmart?" said Kip Voytek, digital innovation director at MDC Partners, the advertising group.

Data sourced from Financial Times/Mashable; additional content by Warc staff