Report: Amazon Plans On Bringing Ads To Alexa This Year

A new report claims that Amazon is looking to bring advertising to its Alexa-enabled devices — possibly as early as this year.

Amazon

CNBC reports that the massive online retailer has been speaking with a number of companies to promote certain products on Amazon’s Echo devices. Sources said these companies include the likes of Procter & Gamble and Clorox.

Pushing Promoted Products

There are a number of ways Amazon could promote products from other companies in its Echo devices. An Echo may use a customer’s buying history to suggest certain products. For instance, if you’ve already bought a product from a company that has an advertising relationship with Amazon, the Echo may suggest another product from the same company.

The report also notes: “Some of the early discussions have centered on whether companies would pay for higher placement if a user searches for a product such as shampoo on the device, similar to how paid searches work in Google.”

Two brands mentioned in the report — Colgate and Clorox — declined to comment. An Amazon spokesperson said the company “has no plans to add advertisements to Alexa.”

[Check out our Security Watch feature comparing Amazon Echo and Google Home.]

As CNBC notes, advertising is “currently limited” on Amazon’s Alexa devices, so it would be interesting to see how Amazon would handle these subtle suggestions or pushes toward certain products — and if current users would notice a difference, or even mind getting these sort of suggestions.

Slippery Slope

Product promotion is a more subtle form of advertising than, say, a 30-second radio-style ad that could come out of your smart speaker. But it’s still advertising.

We’ll have to see where this goes. But we’ve already had concerns about the security issues in smart speakers, and companies being able to push promoted products through a device that is supposed to be used for smart home automation and convenience gives us pause, to say the least.

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