VoiceLabs, a voice analytics company introduced audio ads for Alexa, which is meant to help developers make money off their “skills.”  According to the company, these sponsored messages are “native voice” audio ads, specifically optimized for Alexa and potentially other voice assistants.

Adam Marchick, CEO of VoiceLabs, said that they had extensively tested the new, interactive format and saw an extremely high degree of acceptance.  “Out of more than a million impressions we had less than five negative responses,” he said.  The negative responses came in the form of critical reviews that mentioned the ads.

Adam said that there was “no retention degradation” from being exposed to the ads.  Consumers still came back at same rates as those who were unexposed.

The sponsored messages are designed to be multi-part stores that play over time in 6 to 15 second installments.  As an example, you might hear the first part at 7am, and at 3pm, hear part 2.  Part three could end up being heard later that evening.

The stories are configurable by the the developer. “You can adjust the wait times,” added Marchick. “They have personality and variation; they’re not the standard boring message.”

Right now, there are three categories of apps where ads are able to run according to Amazon’s terms:

  1. Streaming radio
  2. Streaming music
  3. News-flash briefings

Out of the roughly 13000 skills, only about 3,000 are ad-eligible. Marchick said that the lack of a monetization option was a possibly major issue for Alexa developers and carried a possible risk of platform abandonment.

The three inaugural advertisers in the VoiceLabs program includes Wendy’s, ESPN and Progressive Insurance  But, Marchick said they are seeing “a lot of advertiser demand from CPG companies, to prompt people to ad products to their shopping carts.” As the graphic above indicates, the ads are capable of generating e-commerce sales through Amazon.

The addition of a screen to the forthcoming Echo Show, as well as limited calling capabilities across the Alexa network, create interesting new advertising and commerce possibilities for the future.

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