Marketing Via Alexa? Companies Are Speaking Up -

Marketing Via Alexa? Companies Are Speaking Up

Smart speakers like Alexa

Heading into yet another holiday shopping season, it seems like smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home are going nowhere but up in popularity.

Of course, that’s got marketers thinking about how they can leverage these increasingly embedded and useful devices into advertising machines.

Google and Amazon don’t officially sell any sort of ad space, though they do allow brands to create plugins that can be used with these systems. Domino’s, for example, has an app that will help a user order their favorite pizza and plenty of news outlets have podcasts and other programming that is easily accessible.

Reaching Smart Speaker Owners Directly

Not every brand has the spend to create what are essentially voice-driven apps for smart speakers.

HBO’s Westworld Skill for Alexa, for example, required over 100 people to create it from beginning to end. This Skill is an interactive story maze, so it is more complicated than many out there, but even a Skill that required half as much manpower would be incredibly expensive.

This is why many smaller companies are instead trying to game the voice search options. Since you can ask Alexa to “order light bulbs” and she’ll automatically search the Amazon database for the item you’re most likely referring to, it could be possible to stack the deck so that a particular type of light bulb came up more often than not. However, this is not a long-term advertising strategy for smart speakers.

Brand Advertising, Like the Good Old Days

The most successful campaigns that will come out of smart speakers are likely to be brand-focused.

Although some Skills like Pandora Radio offer advertising spots, many still don’t, limiting the number of actual pure advertising spaces. Since Amazon and Google aren’t ready to sell ad space directly, sponsoring news programs or podcasts may be the first step to getting a brand onto these platforms.

As interest continues to grow for smart speakers, there will be need for more content that advertisers can provide as a way to engage potential customers or to deepen relationships that are already there.

However, unlike other parts of Google and Amazon, the data that’s currently coming back, according to reporting by The New York Times, is fairly sparse. Brands may be able to see how many minutes users spent engaged with a Skill or how many sessions they initiated, but deep demographic data is not currently something that’s part of the package.

The Future is Smart

There are currently about 20 million homes in the United States with smart speakers.

That’s about 22 percent of households with WiFi. By 2022, more than half of those WiFi-enabled homes will have voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. Brands need to get a voice strategy in the pipeline, even if it’s just part of their budget for more experiential marketing.


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