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Amazon Alexa’s getting a new feature and you probably won’t like it

She’s made it this far as the dulcet voice inhabiting Amazon’s popular line of smart speakers, but Alexa is about to get interrupted. Prepare your Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or similar for an invasion of voice ads.

The news came via a press release from VoiceLabs, the company that partnered with Alexa to make it possible for third-party developers to build Alexa skills, Business Insider reports.

VoiceLabs announced that it is launching a series of 6- to 15-second ads on a new Alexa platform called Sponsored Messages, with the intention of injecting the ad breaks into Alexa skills like music streaming and news updates.

While it’s not the most welcome news for owners of Alexa devices who have enjoyed an ad-free experience thus far, it’s not all bad. VoiceLabs says that users may only hear sponsored messages once every 15 sessions, and only after their fourth interaction with the skill.

It has also set a few ground rules that should make the spontaneous ads less irksome. They must be brief (no longer than 15 seconds), clearly marked as ads, relevant to the user hearing them, and inserted intelligently into a user’s sessions with an Alexa skill.

VoiceLabs faces some hurdles in making sure the ads are in line with Amazon’s own policies on inserting ads into Alexa skills. Amazon states that ads can only appear in streaming music, streaming radio or flash briefing skills.

CEO of VoiceLabs, Adam Marchick, told CNET that, while Sponsored Messages are “100% in compliance with Amazon’s policies”, there are indeed thousands of skill developers who won’t be able to reap the benefits of ads. Revenue from the ads will go straight to third party developers.

It’s not clear when exactly the voice ads are rolling out, but VoiceLabs says they’ll be available “in a timely fashion”.

Just last week, Amazon announced a new Alexa device called the Amazon Echo Show, featuring a 7-inch touchscreen – the first device to give Alexa a ‘face’.

Related: Amazon Echo Dot

What’s your reaction to voice ads for Alexa? Let us know in the Comments.

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