Up here in the Great White North, the ability to make purchases on Amazon through Alexa is brand new, given that the Echo only just recently launched in Canada. In the U.S. though, this functionality has been around for a few years.
With the Echo expanding to more regions, Amazon might have plans to place ads within its voice-activated Alexa speaker, according CNBC’s sources. Amazon has reportedly been in talks with Procter & Gamble and Clorox, in an effort to locate companies willing to pay to have their products placed higher in Alexa’s search results.
Alexa might also soon advertise related products to users who previously bought specific items. This is similar to how the retail platform currently recommends products on the web. Sources report that Alexa could also suggest a specific brand’s products when a user asks for help performing a task, like cleaning up an accidental spill.
It’s worth noting that Amazon’s current rules limit what types of ads can be delivered to users through Alexa.
“Streaming music, streaming radio, podcast, and flash briefing skills may include audio advertisements as long as (1) the advertisements do not use Alexa’s voice or a similar voice, refer to Alexa, or imitate Alexa interactions and (2) the skill does not include more or materially different advertising than is included when the same or similar content is made available outside of Alexa,” reads an excerpt from a May 19th, 2017 Amazon Alexa blog post.
Last year, a company called VoiceLabs made an effort to begin monetizing specific Alexa Skills, but the above policy shift forced it to stop selling sponsored messages.
To Amazon’s credit, a spokesperson has denied CNBC‘s claims, stating that the company has no plans to bring advertisements to Alexa, according to a statement sent to Engadget.
Given that voice-activated assistants like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby are viewed as the future of how consumers will interact with tech devices, ad placement potential is surely an exciting proposition for advertisers.
From the perspective of someone who frequently utilizes devices like Alexa and Google Home to control smart home devices, I hope that when ads inevitably make their way to these devices, they’re not overly intrusive.
I don’t look forward to the possibility of a Black Mirror-like dystopian future where asking Alexa to turn on my lights results in a 30-second Philips Hue smart lightbulb pre-roll.