Amazon Alexa Developers Can Now Build Skills for Purchase
Amazon is continuing to push for more monetization through Alexa. The most noticeable and most successful version of this is Alexa users that shop by voice when reordering consumables. These are available through any device. All you need to do is ask. With the Echo Show smart displays, they are now a regular part of the image rotation on the screens. We always knew these devices would turn into in-home billboards for e-commerce promotions.
Third-party developers have been able to offer in-skill purchasing (ISP) for monetization for several years now. This can be manifested as either a subscription or a one-time purchase. However, all of the skills to date (with notable Amazon exceptions) have been forced down a freemium path if they chose to monetize. Some version of the skills needed to be available for free. There has not been an advertising option nor an option to charge for a skill upfront. That has changed.
Paid Alexa Skills
Last week, Amazon began rolling out the new paid Alexa skill feature to developers first announced at Alexa Live 2021. According to the announcement:
“We know not every skill experience lends itself well to subscriptions, entitlements, or in-skill consumable content. With paid skills, customers pay a one-time fee, up front, to access the content in your skill.”
Alexa users will be able to begin purchasing skills beginning in September. The payment process will simply tap into the user’s Amazon account. Amazon is also going to enable tracking of paid skill revenue directly in the Developer Console. Development can begin today but certification for paid skills will not be available until early September.
Not the First Paid Alexa Skills
These new features represent the first time third-party developers can charge for a skill before a user can access any part of it. However, Amazon has had this feature for a couple of years now on its Samuel L. Jackson premium celebrity voice. More recently, Amazon added Shaquille O’Neal and Melissa McCarthy as options last month. All three cost $4.99 and you must pay for them in advance of use.
It appears that Premium Dollar Facts is the only other skill with a pre-paid usage gate. This appears to be a third-party skill though it might represent a test sandbox for the Alexa team. We didn’t drop the $1.99 to find out. Maybe we should.
Regardless, Amazon is looking for new ways to drive monetization through Alexa for third-party developers. Amazon has been all about the “user experience” from the beginning and actively suppressed early monetization efforts with a series of policy updates. The justification was said to be in line with protecting the user experience.
Over the past two years, Amazon has been more proactive in developing and supporting monetization efforts for third-party developers. This is a shift in Amazon’s priorities for Alexa and also very important if the company ever wants to have a robust and self-sustaining developer ecosystem.
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