In the future, Alexa queries could be answered with advertising: Amazon has introduced a new program called “Customers Ask Alexa”, which gives the company a more direct line to users of Amazon’s language assistant. Companies can see frequently asked questions and suggest their own answers.
As an example, Amazon cites the question “How do I get pet hair out of my carpet?” in a blog post. Companies that have signed up for the Amazon Brand Registry can propose an answer to this question. In the blog entry, Amazon fails to provide a suitable answer to the question sponsored by companies. The implication: Companies can advertise their own products in their response.
“Companies are experts on their own products,” Amazon manager Rajiv Mehta is quoted as saying in the blog entry. “With this new tool, we’re making it easier for businesses to reach their customers and answer their frequently asked questions so they can make informed purchasing decisions.”
Dashboard that will allow businesses to suggest answers to frequently asked Alexa questions in the future.
Elsewhere, Amazon writes that companies can use the program to answer specific questions about their own products – a feature that is actually also useful for users. But several sample questions listed by Amazon are open-ended: Which products should I use to wash my dog’s fur? How do I get rid of the smell? And how do I get his bowl clean? Possible answers here could contain not only general tips, but also product recommendations.
For example, in the example question about pet hair in the carpet, several vacuum cleaner manufacturers could submit suggestions. So how does Amazon decide what to say to Alexa in response to that question? The blog entry does not provide any information about this. All suggested answers have to go through moderation and quality checks, Amazon only writes. Whether companies can pay to have Alexa spit out their answers is unknown. In the blog entry, Amazon provides at least no indications of this.
From October 2022, “Customers Ask Alexa” will first be available to selected companies before the program becomes available to other companies in the coming year. Alexa users will be able to hear the company’s responses from mid-2023 – it is unclear whether this date also applies to German-speaking countries.
A study published in spring provides evidence that Amazon uses voice interactions with Alexa speakers to personalize advertising – Amazon itself denies this. Researchers from the University of Washington, University of California-Davis, University of California-Irvine and Northeastern However, University noted in their research that advertisers offered higher prices for ads on accounts that frequently interact with their Alexa speaker. Accounts that used Echo devices extensively generated up to 30 times more promotional offers than an idle control account.
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