Amazon reportedly considering more advertising on its Alexa-driven Echo devices

Echos are largely ad-free right now, but that could be about to change.

What's happening?

Amazon has been talking to major companies about advertising through its Echo devices, which use the Alexa voice assistant, CNBC reports.

How would that work?

It wouldn't be like the audio or video ads you get from streaming services like Spotify, YouTube and Pandora.

Instead, Amazon said to be investigating ways where brands could pay for their products to be the first suggested responses from Alexa. 

Think of it as a voice-activated Google, though Amazon recognizes that people are more likely to accept the first suggestion from Alexa compared to Google searches, where it's easier to scroll down for other results.

Amazon already runs promotions like this to some degree, with CNBC noting that Alexa might suggest a brand like Colgate if a user asks to buy toothpaste.

But Amazon is now looking at ways to increase these promotions, and expand them further by taking into account the user's shopping history.

For example, if a shopper has previously bought a particular brand through their Echo, Alexa could suggest they try another of that brand's products. 

Also, if you ask Alexa for help with a household problem, the voice-assistant might suggest a particular product to assist you.

How will Echo owners feel about this?

What, you didn't think Amazon would just be happy selling you the device, did you?

If the online leviathan has proved anything, it's that it wants to monetize all aspects of its business. It's already actively encouraging its Echo owners to order items through the device, now it wants to have a say in what you buy.

As of October it had sold more than 20 million Alexa-linked Echo devices, Voicebot reports, with "millions" more sold during the Holiday season.

Right now, using Alexa via the Echo is mostly ad-free, and upping the ante with more ads could come at a risk of alienating its Echo owners.

Tech website Xda suggests it could be a "slippery slope" for Amazon given the smart-speaker/voice-assistant market is still in its infancy, and it could lead potential customers to seek alternatives such as the Google Home.

"Losing customer trust could make people think twice about buying an Amazon Echo device in the future," it says.

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