Amazon's new AI tool conjures fake backgrounds for real products

The retailer views it as a quick and attractive alternative to boring white backgrounds.


Amazon is rolling out a new beta feature that lets advertisers create AI-generated image backgrounds for products. The company describes it as “a generative AI solution designed to remove creative barriers” while boosting ad performance. “It’s a perfect use for generative AI — less effort and better outcomes,” Colleen Aubrey, senior vice president of Amazon Ads Products and Technology, wrote Wednesday in an announcement blog post.

The company views the feature as an ideal alternative to product shots in front of generic white backgrounds (or bad Photoshop jobs). Amazon says the process is easy and requires no technical expertise. It provides the example of the toaster above. It floats in a grayish-white void on the left, while the AI-generated environment on the right adds some life to the scene. However, as The Verge points out, that “fork” on the lower right looks like it has about six or seven extra tines.

Amazon says data backs up the tool’s effectiveness (funky fork and all). “When that same toaster is placed in a lifestyle context — on a kitchen counter, next to a croissant — in a mobile Sponsored Brands ad, click-through rates can be 40% higher compared to ads with standard product images,” the company wrote.

The online retailer sees the tool as a way for advertisers to create attractive lifestyle images without breaking the bank. “Producing engaging and differentiated creatives can increase cost and often requires introducing additional expertise into the advertising process,” Aubrey wrote. “At Amazon Ads, we are always thinking about ways we can reduce friction for our advertisers, provide them with tools that deliver more impact while minimizing effort, and ultimately, deliver a better advertising experience for our customers.”

To use the tool, advertisers can select their product in the Amazon Ad Console, click “Generate,” and choose from several image options whipped up “in a matter of seconds.” It lets you refine images with short text prompts, and it supposedly spits out multiple versions quickly.

The feature’s launch follows other AI tools from the retailer. Amazon rolled out an AI feature in September that generates text for product listings, and another feature launched this summer creates AI summaries of products reviews. “[Generative AI] is going to be at the heart of what we do,” CEO Andy Jassy said in an August earnings call. “It's a significant investment and focus for us."

Amazon has begun rolling out image generation to “select advertisers,” and it will expand availability over time.