Alexa Audio Ads

Amazon Makes Alexa Audio Ads More Interactive

Amazon debuted new ways for listeners to interact with audio ads played over Alexa-enabled devices this week at its unBoxed event for advertisers. The voice assistant has a better grasp of the ad’s context and its connection to Amazon’s store. Listeners can tell the voice assistant to add the product being advertised to their cart, ask for more information about it, or just say “remind me” to get a follow-up notice about the product from Alexa.

Interactive Audio

The upgrade aims to make the going from hearing the ad to buying the product as smooth and simple as possible, encouraging people to engage with a voice ad and buy the product without any frustration preventing the transaction. The new features build on the limited voice commands to buy something or ask for more information incorporated into Amazon Music ads earlier this year. The resulting interaction is supposed to feel more natural and comfortable for listeners, upping the effectiveness of the ad. To prove it one way or another, participating brands will also receive metrics on how listeners reacted to the ad and if they made moves toward a transaction. Amazon even offers to help brands design and produce their interactive ads to ease them into using the service.

Amazon has also begun a beta test for video versions of its interactive ads. The long-term strategy is to enable viewers streaming TV shows to make purchases with their voices in response to interactive ads. For the beta test, the interactive video ads are running solely through the IMDb TV app embedded on Fire TVs. Alexa will respond to requests to add a product to their cart or send along more information to their email address.

“With so many screens and an endless stream of information drawing the attention of consumers, it can sometimes be challenging for brands to stand out. Interactive ads, however, can help brands connect more effectively with their audiences by inviting them to actively engage with an ad in an immersive way,” Amazon explained in a blog post. “By creating a seamless way to connect, Interactive Audio Ads make it easier and even more natural for audiences to engage with audio ads via their voice when they want to. This is only the beginning of Amazon Ads’ innovation with interactivity, and we will continue to evolve the experience over time based on customer and advertiser feedback.”

Ad Game

The official announcements of the new ads don’t mention another interactive ad test Amazon is quietly running through third-party Alexa voice games. As detailed by Voicebot last month, someone playing Question of the Day on Alexa started hearing about a sponsor of the game in between rounds. Since developers are not allowed to embed ads in their skills, it seems likely a policy revision is on the way.

The new ad system seems closer to the interactive advertising campaigns run by groups like AdTonos. They ran an interactive audio ad campaign in London last year for Audi using smart speakers. Pandora’s success in early experiments led to expanding its interactive ad campaign, while Spotify’s campaigns have included Unilever brands and UK cosmetics firm Nars. A Cumulus Media case study published early this year found that those who heard an ad for the Southeast Michigan Ford Dealers Association on their smart speaker were 24% more likely to be familiar with the brand.


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