Amazon Lets Brands Customize Voices on Skills

Amazon is now allowing brands to create custom voices for Alexa skills. Using the Amazon Polly API, brands can create exclusive Neural Text-to-Speech voices for their specific organization’s Alexa Skills or Amazon Connect uses. The organization will work with an Amazon team to create a persona, find a voice actor, record their speech and build a model around that voice, according to Amazon’s blog.

Related: Amazon Wants To Make Alexa More Conversational 

Microphone
Amazon Polly announced that brands can record their own voices for Alexa skills.

Can Brands Advertise Through Alexa?

Although branded skills exist on Alexa, brands can not advertise on Alexa directly unless it is during a podcast, flash briefing or music streaming service, according to an article from Security Baron. Brands can also provide answers to queries like “What is the best Bluetooth mouse?”Amazon claims they have no plans to incorporate ads directly into Alexa and will suspend any skill that has advertising or promotion. However, Amazon has met with companies like Clorox and Proctor & Gamble to discuss placing advertisements on Echo devices, according to multiple outlets.

A survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers regarding voice assistant ads showed that 57% of consumers would prefer television ads over voice assistant ads but would be more open to the latter if:

  • User could skip ad
  • Users must opt in to hear ads
  • Ads don’t interrupt events like listening to music
  • Listeners could choose their ad
  • Ads were only played at pre-approved times
  • Ads were connected to users’ “liked” brands on social media networks.

While Amazon is publicly against advertisements on Alexa, their recent Amazon Polly announcement demonstrates a move toward monetizing their voice assistant by giving brands more control of the voice. Additionally, Amazon Polly charges $16 for one million characters with Neural Text-to-Speech technology, four times as much as the standard Text-to-Speech price.

FAQs

Is Amazon Polly free?

Amazon Polly is not free. Rather, organizations are charged on the number of characters that they convert to speed. However, there is a free tier that lets users “cache and replay Amazon Polly’s generated speech”. Otherwise, the company offers a pay-as-you-go model starting at $4 for one million characters.

Does Alexa use Polly?

Alexa uses Polly to narrate customized Alexa skills.

Can Alexa be personalized?

Alexa can be personalized in many languages, tones and even completely custom voices, as of a recent announcement from Amazon Polly.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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