Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

There’s debate on both sides of the Atlantic as to whether Amazon's mountain of data gives it an inherent — and unfair — advantage over rivals. But critics may be looking at the wrong thing in the data.

What they're saying: James Thomson, a former Amazon executive who now consults for brands that sell on the platform, says the e-commerce giant's singular advantage is behavioral data allowing it to precisely target customers for its private label products.

Behavioral data tells Amazon who precisely is interested in what product. "They know exactly who has looked for batteries but has not purchased them," Thomson tells Axios. "That's the audience you want."

Driving the news: Margrethe Vestager, the EU's top antitrust regulator, today launched a probe of whether Amazon is unfairly monopolizing data in order to outsell rivals.

  • Amazon declined to comment. But it might argue that third-party sellers — big-time wholesalers (about 0.5% of Amazon merchants) — have access to the same sales data as Amazon does.
  • But behavioral data — which it does not share — is deadlier, Thomson says. With it, Amazon can target a customer and beat national brands on price.
"They basically get to boil the ocean for their whole catalog and figure out exactly where the opportunities are."
— James Thomson

The dominance of Amazon's private label on its platform will become a louder question if voice commerce — something the company is pursuing through Alexa — becomes the next big thing, says Gartner L2 analyst Cooper Smith.

  • Brands will have to train shoppers to ask for their exact products when barking an order at Alexa.
  • Otherwise, a generic request for "toilet paper" will mean Amazon gets to ship customers its own brand.

Go deeper: How Amazon steers shoppers to its own products (NYT)

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
6 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.