Alexa will soon answer your questions with advertisements for products you can buy on Amazon, rather than providing advice from the web.
Announced at the Amazon Accelerate conference (via TechCrunch), the new ‘Customers ask Alexa’ feature will see Alexa respond to specific queries with answers paid for by brands.
So, if you’re looking for the best way to get red wine out of your carpet, you may not get an answer about blotting as much as you can while it’s still wet, and instead a prompt to buy from your friendly neighbourhood stain removal spray.
The idea, of course, would probably be a follow-up question from Alexa about whether you’d like to add said product to your shopping list, or buy it now for free Prime delivery that day.
In a blog post, Amazon says: “Amazon has launched a new Alexa-powered capability geared toward helping brands answer common customer questions.”
“The capability is called Customers ask Alexa, and it works like this: When customers pose questions to Alexa, including queries related to a product’s features or compatibilities, Alexa responds with helpful answers provided by brands from those product categories.”
Brands can begin answering these common questions in the Seller Central portion of the site, ahead of an invite-only roll out later this year. Alexa users will begin hearing the responses from their Echo devices sometime in the middle of next year.
It’s actually rather surprising it’s taken Amazon this long to launch proper brand integration within Alexa. It would seem natural for the voice assistant to suggest products that can quickly be added to a wish list or shopping list.
However, we can see it being quite invasive and we have questions about how users’ voice data could eventually be shared with brands to help them refine these answers.