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CNBC reports that Amazon is negotiating with several companies - including Procter & Gamble and Clorox - about the possibility of letting them promote their brands on its Alexa-powered Echo devices.

According to the story, the discussions “have centered on whether companies would pay for higher placement if a user searches for a product such as shampoo on the device, similar to how paid searches work in Google.”

The CNBC story says that such a development “could mean big things for consumer companies that are fretting their influence on a voice-powered shopping experience.”

At the same time, “brands are worried about being left out of the voice-shopping platform entirely. Advertisers and brands are particularly focused on search placement on Alexa because shoppers are more likely to select a top result on a voice assistant than they are on the web, where it's easy to scroll down or ignore written suggestions.”
KC's View:
I think they have to be very careful about this becoming intrusive.

The story offers the following example: “One experiment in the works is letting companies target users based on past shopping behavior. For example, Alexa may suggest to a shopper who previously bought Clorox's Pine-Sol to consider buying its disinfecting wipes. Amazon is also looking to tap advertising in Alexa's skills. Someone asking the Echo for help cleaning up a spill might be nudged to use a specific brand.”

If I’m looking for brand suggestions, I have no problem with being offered alternatives, though they should be careful to label paid sponsorships as such. But if stuff starts coming up for no reason, without prompting, it is going to annoy people.

For example, if I ask what the weather is, my Echo better not say, “It is raining out, and so you’d better use an umbrella made by XXX. If you don’t, you’re going to need cold medicine made by XXX.” That would tick me off.