Adweek: Amazon Is Reportedly Prepping an Ad-Supported Music Service for Echo Devices

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Excerpt: Dan Richardson, director of the media-as-creative practice Invention+ at media and marketing services company Mindshare, said it’s more natural to hear ads in audio environments, which would be a logical place to get consumers acclimated to commercial messaging from smart speakers.

Brands like Burger King have experimented with promotional audio 2.0, but arguably, the most overt example of voice advertising so far is when Google Assistant reminded Google Home users Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was in theaters in 2017. Google insisted it was merely pointing out timely content, but users were nevertheless displeased. Meyers said consumers are like this with any new medium.

“We’re very reactionary toward advertising, even though it’s all around us and we adapt to it pretty quickly,” he said. “So, yeah, we’re fine with ads on radio, but will probably freak out when ads first surface on voice appliances … I suspect some of it is just clinging to this hope that, because this thing doesn’t currently have ads, it will never have ads. Of course, that’s ridiculous, but we want to believe it.”

Since the Beauty and the Beast debacle, platforms seem to have been skittish about annoying users and have instead focused on adoption with few—if any—advertising examples to reference since. Along the way, Amazon has sold more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices, while Google has sold “tens of millions”of Google Homes.

And while initial voice ads will probably sound like traditional radio spots, Richardson said voice search ads will have to be different. That means not just broadcasting a message, but providing utility—and figuring out what constitutes a natural, helpful way for advertising to exist in the voice ecosystem beyond music.

“Since the voice shelf only allows one product to be said at a time, would the voice search product just allow a brand to pay to have their product suggested first?” he asked. “Or perhaps Alexa would let me know that a different brand of shampoo is on sale or offering a better price-per-ounce?”

Read the full piece in Adweek.