Alexa could eventually start sliding in advertisements for bleach or toothpaste when you go to shop. Amazon is in talks with companies like Proctor & Gamble and Clorox to advertise on Echo devices, potentially suggesting their products when you ask your Echo to buy something, according to CNBC. Amazon however said in a statement: “There are no plans to add advertising to Alexa.”
Some of the talks are said to be about search placement and whether brands can get mentioned over others. In the future, when Alexa helps with online shopping, it might suggest related products from a sponsored brand. This might even come up when you aren’t shopping. So if you ask Alexa to help clean up a spill, it could suggest you use a certain brand of cleaner, CNBCsays.
Other companies have means of advertising through Alexa skills, but it seems that Amazon doesn’t actually run ads of its own yet. One potential location, CNBC points out, is the product suggestion Amazon already makes when you ask it to buy something. For now, though, Amazon says those suggestions are algorithmic — not paid.
If sponsored brands become the first names that Alexa lists on a long list of results, it’s likely more people will just accept the top result, even if it’s an ad, because that’s preferable to listening to the voice assistant drone on. It’s the same reason I accept Siri’s misaligned judgment to send me to the Duane Reade pharmacy on the other side of town instead of the one a few blocks closer. The alternative is turning off the AI and just figuring out the directions myself.
Update January 3rd, 5:20PM ET:This article has been updated with a statement from Amazon. It has also been corrected to reflect that Alexa does not yet advertise brands.