Amazon Expands In-Skill Purchasing Feature for All Alexa Skills
Today Amazon announced on the company’s Alexa blog that in-skill purchasing (ISP) is now widely available for Alexa skills in the US. Amazon first began experimenting with the new feature back in October with the Jeopardy! skill. It then expanded the program with five new additional games in November as part of a developer preview, giving users the option to make one-time purchases for additional premium content. Now the ability to offer ISP is available to all third-party Alexa skill developers and also includes a subscription option in addition to the one-time purchase model.
Amazon also makes it clear it wants the process to be as smooth as possible for both developers and Alexa users. Amazon stated in the blog that it will handle the voice-first purchasing flow but leaves the premium offering and price up to the developers, which can range anywhere from $0.99 to $99.99. It also must be noted that skills for children under 13 cannot be monetized at this time. Another constraint is that developers must keep Amazon’s cash cow, Amazon Prime member in mind:
Amazon is ensuring that every in-skill purchase brings added value to Amazon Prime members, such as discounted price, exclusive content, or early access. Developers set the list price for their in-skill product and will be paid 70 percent of list price, before any discount offered by Amazon.
An Apple App Store Model for Voice?
The idea is similar to the Apple app store model where apps are free for download but give the user the option to upgrade their user experience for a small fee. But there are two key differences besides the obvious voice-first implications. First, developers must offer exclusive deals to Prime members. Second, unlike premium iOS apps that require a credit card before download, all Alexa skills are still required to be enabled for free:
Skills will continue to provide a free experience for customers. This enables customers to assess the quality of the skill and understand the product for sale prior to purchasing via voice.
Removing the Monetization Barrier
As Voicebot predicted in November, the monetization barriers have fallen away this year. Now developers have a tangible way to make money off their Alexa skills by offering premium content to Alexa users whether they develop games or media content. For instance, SYFY WIRE is now offering three new exclusive podcasts on Amazon Alexa each week as part of its ISP subscription service while Yes Sire, a popular role-playing game, gives gamers the opportunity to buy an expansion pack for an enriched experience.
The new in-skill purchasing feature will certainly incentivize developers to not only create new Alexa skills but to enhance their existing ones with premium content. It will also drive developers to create quality skills to ensure good reviews to maximize their revenue. It could also get more brands and media companies on board who have larger budgets but have been wary to create Alexa skills due to the lack of monetization opportunities.
Giving developers a 70% cut (minus taxes of course) of their in-skill purchases is one way for Amazon to improve Alexa, one skill at a time. It’s also a way to say thank you to the people who have created thousands of skills for Alexa by finally providing them a tangible monetization opportunity. Money talks and developers are listening. Some may now even be able to quit their day job.