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Is Amazon Launching Alexa “Ad-Words”?

We’ve spoken before about the power of Alexa to connect brands directly with consumers and how we believe it will become an essential marketing tool in the future. Well, It would appear that Amazon is preparing to realise that potential.

News organisation CNBC in the US is reporting that the e-tailer is currently having conversations with a whole host of major brands about promoting products and services via their digital assistant and the impact could be huge.

The reports claim “unnamed sources” have leaked information on talks with companies including Procter & Gamble and Clorox which have focused around those brand’s willingness to pay for higher placement in user voice searches, in a similar format to Google paid searches.

Think about that for a moment. We all happily skip past the Google Ads at the top of search results and in seconds reach the organic results that we “trust”. With voice, it’s not so simple. Not only will skipping to a 3rd or 4th search result feel unnatural and time-consuming but also the way we search on voice devices presents a great opportunity for marketeers. If a user wishes to use Alexa to order toilet paper they are likely to say just that; “Alexa order toilet paper”, specifying brands (“Alexa order Andrex Toilet Paper”) feels unnatural and clunky in conversation. This means that paid placement in voice searches could provide a massive advantage in this space. Being first will be everything.

It is also likely that voice search results will be influenced by previous activity. For example, if a user has shown brand loyalty with previous transactions then Alexa’s will likely learn the user’s preference and use that as the default in future. So, an early Ad spend now to gain that top spot could pay dividends long into the future.

Currently, there is very little advertising on Alexa away from “sponsored” Skills built by specific brands and the official Amazon party line is that there are no plans to add advertising to Alexa. However, as Voice grows, more and more consumers use the technology to purchase items and order services, advertisers will be desperate to get in front of them.

These rumours, if true, also show that the major players are now sitting up and taking notice of Alexa as a selling tool. Currently, 36million American’s own a Smart Speaker and that number is growing. They would be foolish to ignore the opportunity and combining it with Amazon’s wealth of consumer data would appear to be an obvious step to create truly targeted voice ads.

For companies exploring this new space its a double-edged sword. Do they get involved now or wait to see how the technology develops? On one side this is still an unproven area and what form of paid promotion proves most effective remains to be seen. On the other, if previous use and past interaction IS going to play a major role in search results the early bird really could get the multi-million-pound worm!

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