picking, packaging, and preparing customer orders for shipment; payment processing and related transaction costs, including costs associated with our guarantee for certain seller transactions;
responding to inquiries from customers, and supply chain management for our manufactured Kindle devices. Fulfillment costs also include amounts paid to third parties that assist us in fulfillment and customer service operations.
Marketing costs consist primarily of targeted online advertising, television advertising, public relations expenditures; and payroll and
related expenses for personnel engaged in marketing, business development, and selling activities. We pay commissions to participants in our Associates program when their customer referrals result in product sales and classify such costs as
Marketing on our consolidated statements of operations. We also participate in cooperative advertising arrangements with certain of our vendors, and other third parties.
Advertising and other promotional costs are expensed as incurred and were $2.0 billion, $1.4 billion, and $890 million in 2012, 2011, and
2010. Prepaid advertising costs were not significant at December 31, 2012 and 2011.
Technology and Content
Technology and content expenses consist principally of technology infrastructure expenses and payroll and related expenses
for employees involved in application, product, and platform development, category expansion, editorial content, buying, merchandising selection, systems support, and digital initiatives, as well as costs associated with the compute, storage, and
telecommunications infrastructure used internally and supporting AWS.
Technology and content costs are expensed as incurred,
except for certain costs relating to the development of internal-use software and website development, including software used to upgrade and enhance our websites and applications supporting our business, which are capitalized and amortized over two
General and Administrative
General and administrative expenses consist of payroll and related expenses for employees involved in general corporate functions, including accounting, finance, tax, legal, and human relations, among
others; costs associated with use by these functions of facilities and equipment, such as depreciation expense and rent; professional fees and litigation costs; and other general corporate costs.
Compensation cost for all stock-based awards expected to vest is measured at fair value on the date of grant and recognized over the service period. The fair value of restricted stock units is determined
based on the number of shares granted and the quoted price of our common stock. Such value is recognized as expense over the service period, net of estimated forfeitures, using the accelerated method. The estimation of stock awards that will
ultimately vest requires judgment, and to the extent actual results or updated estimates differ from our current estimates, such amounts will be recorded as a cumulative adjustment in the period estimates are revised. We consider many factors when
estimating expected forfeitures, including employee class, economic environment, and historical experience.
Operating Expense (Income), Net
Other operating expense (income), net, consists primarily of intangible asset amortization
expense and expenses related to legal settlements.