No Ads for You

Amazon made a call earlier this week to disallow audio advertising through Alexa. It’s probably a good decision but it’ll be interesting to see 1) how it’s enforced and 2) how it will affect sponsored content streamed through Alexa.

This move lead to the shut down of one revenue model of VoiceLabs, which has a platform for building skills and wanted to monetize skills through ads. There were likely many other skill builders who were looking to recoup the investment in their 21 questions or hangman skills through a sponsor.

Amazon may now have to setup quite a few processes accessing and assessing published skills to ensure compliance. What’s difficult in this task is that by design, the interaction with a skill can be personalized and flow differently depending on the user’s input. An ad could be inserted at any point and could take many forms, from an audio snippet to a game where the answers are related to a product. Perhaps it’s that Amazon doesn’t want to have to police an odd interjection at the invocation of a skill, e.g. “This Skill is brought to you by Marlboro” or the like.

The question will then come up with things like podcasts that might have a sponsor. My feeling is that this might be acceptable.

Beyond inappropriate content control, Amazon might also be averse to allowing targeted ads because of the potential creepiness factor that could lead to a poor impression of Alexa. If a device is already in our home, we might be more weirded out if it starts to sell us antacid if we have heartburn.

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