Alexa Will Start Answering Questions With Ads in 2023
Amazon will incorporate ads into Alexa’s answers with its new Customers Ask Alexa feature starting next year. Companies will be able to essentially sponsor the voice assistant’s responses to questions relevant to their products, linking an advertisement for a cleaning spray to a query about how to remove stains, for instance. The feature brings commerce to the otherwise crowd-sourced Alexa Answers feature set up by Amazon a few years ago.
Asking questions is consistently rated as one of the most frequent uses for voice assistants. The new feature acts somewhat like an audio version of the sponsored links when searching on Google. Asking a question that has some connection to a product or service will prompt Alexa to read out an answer composed and submitted by a brand. Businesses interested in participating have to have an account with Amazon Brand Registry and sign up on the Customers ask Alexa page from Seller Central. Any submission has to go through Alexa’s content moderation ahead of time. and quality checks before Alexa selects the most relevant answer to share with customers. The ad answers will start popping up as an invite-only feature this fall and open up to any brand in the U.S. in 2023.
“Amazon recognizes brands as experts on their products,” explained Alexa Shopping general manager Rajiv Mehta. “With this new capability, we have made it easier for brands to connect with customers to help answer common questions and better inform their purchase decisions.”
The new feature would have Alexa as a passive intermediary, compared to the interactive audio advertising through Alexa introduced last year. That feature augments ads heard on Alexa with the option 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. There’s also the interactive ad test Amazon is quietly running through third-party Alexa voice games. As detailed by Voicebot, someone playing Question of the Day on Alexa started hearing about a sponsor of the game in between rounds.
While it might seem annoying to have an ad for a simple question, there’s some evidence people may not respond too negatively. Approximately half of smart speaker owners who hear advertising through their device have a positive reaction, according to the most recent NPR and Edison Research Smart Audio Report, even more than when heard elsewhere. That’s not the same as hearing a sponsored answer to a question, but Amazon might have its own data encouraging an attempt at exploring this kind of marketing for its sellers.