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Paid Ads Coming to Alexa: Will Alexa Recommend Your Products?

Voice assistants are changing the way people shop. You won't have to look at a screen to order a product. Just tell Alexa what you want, and she can order it for you. With the huge success of the Alexa virtual assistant, Amazon is taking steps to enable paid voice search through the Echo and Echo Dot devices.

While shopping on Amazon.com is much more convenient than searching for products on Google, nothing beats ordering an item straight from an voice-powered device. More than 8.2 million Amazon shoppers now have an Alexa-powered device in the U.S., and Amazon continues to invest in the technology, adding new skills and features.

If Amazon develops a paid advertising platform on Alexa, how will that affect the buyer’s journey? More importantly, how will voiced product ads affect your Amazon business?

How Alexa Voice Shopping Works

Before you can buy anything through Alexa, you'll need to have an active Amazon Prime membership. This requirement could be a strategy to draw in more Prime customers, or at least have Alexa-device users sign up for the 30-day free trial.

By issuing a voice purchase request, Prime members can order any Prime-eligible items sold or fulfilled by Amazon, from trash bags to jewelry and watches. Alexa will search through your order history, Prime Now and Amazon's Choice catalogs to recommend you a matching product. If the item is available, Alexa will announce the item name and price, and ask you to confirm or cancel. Say "yes" and the order will be on its way. If you need more information, you can check the product on the Alexa app.

Alternatively, you can ask Alexa to add items directly to your cart or shopping list, and you can complete the order on Amazon.com or the Amazon app. Alexa can then track shipped orders, adding further convenience to the customer experience.

Because of the trust and convenience Amazon marketplace offers, most customers are unlikely to think twice about which brand of product Alexa may recommend. The point of voice search is to eliminate product browsing altogether, and the most loyal Amazon shoppers will trust Alexa to find the best match, and if not, they can easily return the item.

As to which FBA seller Alexa chooses, it will be similar to the Buy Box game, which considers pricing, availability and customer service performance.

Voiced sponsored ads will bring a whole other game to the table.

How Amazon Will Implement Paid Voice Search Advertising

Given the popularity of virtual shopping assistants, early adopters may wonder how to leverage the potential of voice search. Once implemented, sponsored products may be given more weight than regular product recommendations.

For instance, when a customer makes a voice order for a new bicycle, would Alexa recommend a sponsored product? Will the highest bidder get placed? Will Alexa let customers know they are being recommended a paid product listing?

Fortunately, customers are protected by the Federal Trade Commission, which requires that all paid content online must be clearly labeled, so consumers can distinguish ads from non-ads. This leaves Amazon with the challenge of implementing paid search onto a seamless voice shopping experience, as ad labeling will need to be audible.

Without audible cues, consumers can't tell if Alexa is recommending a paid ad or not. If paid voice search is done poorly, it may damage the trust consumers have placed on the Amazon brand. Paid voice search will need to be relevant, nondisruptive, and clearly labeled, adding value to the customer.

The Bottom Line

No one really knows how Amazon will implement Alexa sponsored products. With a customer-first attitude, Amazon is likely to find a solution to make voice shopping faster and more convenient. Google, having launched their own rival voice assistant, will likely develop their own paid voice advertising platform.

Conversational commerce is here to stay, and Amazon sellers need to be aware of the technologies that could impact their business.

To help sellers better understand the power and convenience of voice search, check out Jazva’s current giveaway, a brand new Amazon Echo Dot! Hurry, the contest ends Feb 22!

Amazon Echo Dot Giveaway

Albert Ong

Albert Ong

Albert Ong is the marketing manager at Jazva, an all-in-one ecommerce platform for multi-channel sellers. When not leading content strategy, Albert spends his time listening to audiobooks, writing science fiction, and binge-watching Netflix.

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