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Amazon Alexa Monetization Introduced with $1.99 Subscription for Jeopardy Skill

Voicebot has learned that Amazon Alexa monetization has been enabled for the Jeopardy! skill. While Amazon started granting cash rewards for developers earlier this year based on app engagement, it is not a formal monetization program. Today, Amazon rolled out a new subscription service that enables Jeopardy! Alexa skill users to get six extra clues per day and the ability to play previous day’s games that were missed. Before today, Jeopardy! skill users could only play six clues and if they missed a day, they couldn’t make up the games.

The subscription option offers these new features and provides an illustration of how Alexa skill monetization can work for other developers as well. An Amazon spokesperson commented in an email:

Amazon introduced the ability for customers to access premium subscription content within the Jeopardy! skill…The developer tools to create subscription skills are currently in preview with Jeopardy!. We’ll notify developers when the tools are more broadly available.

How the Jeopardy! Alexa Skill Subscription Works

The new Jeopardy! features are available to Prime Members at no cost. Non-Prime Members are prompted to purchase a $10.99 per month Prime Membership to get the Jeopardy! features or they have the option of simply paying $1.99 per month for the features. I have multiple accounts and was able to play Double Jeopardy! (the six extra clues) in the Prime-linked account and was made the offer for the subscription for the non-Prime linked account. The Amazon spokesperson added:

For customers who love the Jeopardy! experience they have with Alexa today, nothing will change. They’ll still be able to enjoy the original six clues each day at no cost. Bringing a subscription model to skills for Alexa will bring customers the benefit of new, engaging, and high-quality experiences while providing developers an additional way to earn money from their skills.

These are important points. First, Amazon has been careful to cultivate a user-first approach to skill policy. It is not surprising that Amazon would select a popular skill like Jeopardy! to launch the program with and ensure that the existing free version remains for users that already enjoy it. The latter comment about monetization enabling high quality experiences for consumers while developers earn money. This sentiment was also expressed by NextView Ventures’ David Beisel in a recent Voicebot Podcast interview. His contention is that the game companies and top developer teams will not engage on the platform until there is a clear path to monetization. 

Paving the Way for Voice App Monetization

There are two common requests from Amazon Alexa developers. The first is around Alexa skill discovery. Alexa skill store has helped with this, but there are still gaps as were noted by Jo Jaquinta in the Voicebot Podcast interview last month. The second request is around skill monetization. Subscription monetization is likely the first of many options. It is well suited to games, media and software.

A couple of key questions remain unanswered at this point about the new subscription option. It is officially in preview now, but it is not clear when it will be made generally available to developers. Also, I have asked whether Amazon is taking a fee on subscription transactions and if so how much. Amazon is not currently commenting on their agreement with Sony, the developer of Double Jeopardy!.

Will We See New Voice Commerce Options Yet

The next logical monetization option will be in-Skill purchases. This can take many forms and in the mobile world is known as in-app purchases. For example, companies today cannot sell physical products from within an Alexa skill even if Amazon can fulfill orders. Users are required to exit the skill and then order from Amazon through Alexa. This seems less than ideal for product sellers who may fear the loss of the customer engagement could lead to product switching or further browsing instead of immediate purchase. Other in-skill purchases could be for games or online services. These all roll up into the voice commerce rubric. This seems like a no brainer given the time of year and the fact that Google Assistant already has this feature in preview.

One monetization strategy I do not expect to see soon is in-skill advertising. Amazon has been scrupulously narrowing its ad monetization policy to make it more restrictive and not less. That doesn’t mean advertising won’t be an option in the future, but expect to see in-skill voice commerce shopping first.

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