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* Third-party company using new program to run “sponsored messages”
*Ads will periodically run before and after Alexa conversations
* Users will be able to interact with these ads in real time
In addition to the 10,000+ skills Amazon Alexa has gained over the years, a new program has started letting brands insert their own customized ads into your conversations.
Developed by a voice analytics company, VoiceLabs’ new Sponsored Messaging service injects 15-seconds ads before and after you ask Alexa to perform a certain skill. Users can interact with these ads by asking questions and giving their feedback. They even have the option to instantly add certain products to their shopping cart.
In a press release issued last week, VoiceLabs stated how it has already begun working with companies to create targeted messages. According to Chief Product Officer Alex Linares, “We are fortunate to have advertising partners who ‘get it’. For example, we collaborated with Progressive and Wendy’s to create Sponsored Messages that are both short, and also tell a brand story over the course of multiple user sessions.”
By giving users the opportunity to essentially rate these ads in real time, both advertisers and developers will have a much more direct and immediate way to gauge a user’s interest, potentially combining their Amazon account history to better serve up customized ads. But there’s a catch. This new advertising program is run by a third-party company with no actual affiliation to Amazon or its voice-activated service, meaning these ads are essentially circumventing Amazon’s strict ad-free policy.
Even more alarming are the potential privacy risks. With Alexa being privy to so much personal info, how long will it take for a company to expose it? Word’s still out on Amazon’s official stance when it comes to these types of third-party ads.