Why it matters: The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is betting that free samples will better convince shoppers to purchase products than ads on a website (and they're probably right).

Amazon is piloting a new program that could become an instrumental part of its overall advertising strategy and give it a leg-up on competitors like Facebook and Google.

Axios, citing recent job listings, details on Amazon's website and first-hand accounts on social media, reports that Amazon is using machine learning to study purchasing data and hand-select customers to receive free samples of products they are likely to buy.

Amazon says it surprises select customers with samples, adding that you don't have to be a Prime member to receive freebies. Examples of products that have historically been sampled include coffee, dog food and granola bars.

Amazon is no stranger to product samples. The company previous offered a sampling program that allowed shoppers to sample products and earn credit towards the purchase of a full-sized product but it has since been discontinued.

Naturally, Amazon declined to comment when pinged by Axios.

While most would probably love to receive unexpected freebies in the mail, Axios notes that some customers may feel violated when something random shows up at their doorstep. I'm not sure if "violated" is the right word - perhaps irritated over something that could potentially be deemed as wasteful?

Would you like Amazon to send you free samples or would you rather not be bothered with stuff you didn't order?

Lead image courtesy Artur Szczbylo via Shutterstock