Voice-assisted platform debuts with the ability to let consumers communicate with brands at home

Voicelabs

Brands can now put their money where their mouth is with the launch of a new audio format by VoiceLabs that allows consumers to add products to their Amazon shopping cart, request information and give feedback to brands or advertisers.

Seen as a pioneering way to deliver brand messages, VoiceLabs' Sponsored Messages has been in the testing phase for the past few months with millions of consumer tests, yielding positive consumer feedback and brand engagement lift.

As an example, if an Amazon Echo device is in the kitchen or living room, brands may now deliver a message about a new cuisine right as a consumer is planning their shopping list, or announce a new show premiering that night on their TV.

Additionally, a consumer might ask Alexa about gluten-free pizza, which will in turn send that consumer to the Food Network for a recipe. In the future, Sponsored Messages will recognize that a consumer might prefer delivery and dynamically insert an Amy's Pizza ad in partnership with the Food Network - but that's still to come, a company spokesman notes.

Brands like Progressive Insurance, ESPN, Wendy's and Alexa developers Federated Media, XAPPmedia, TWiT.tv, Appbly are participating in the launch of Sponsored Messages. In order to participate, developers opt-in to advertiser campaigns and decide where and when to service ads, much like Google AdSense. Developers are paid on a CPM rate.

The 2017 Voice Report noted a lack of monetization as a major roadblock to growing the ecosystem, and top Alexa developers were at risk of abandoning the Amazon Alexa platform as over 13,000 voice developers had created Alexa skills, with no ability to monetize and support their efforts.

"I have been working hard developing Alexa skills for over a year, and I can finally support my efforts. Building on Amazon Alexa has been a labor of love, but essentially grew into a part-time job as my skills became popular. If Sponsored Messages didn't come along soon, I would have had to shift my development efforts to another platform or even consider shutting down my skills entirely," said Nick Schwab, a top ten Alexa and Microsoft Cortana skill developer. "The hardest part about it was the more popular my skills became, the more money and time I had to spend to support them, with no prospect of recouping on my investments. "

Currently, the company has over 1,300 voice developers on its platform, and many of these developers expressed an interest in finding the right way to serve their consumers, while being able to support and invest in their voice application.

"Wendy's is focused on bringing the brand voice to innovative new touch points with consumers, and we are thrilled to be the first QSR to leverage VoiceLabs' Sponsored Messages to reach consumers within their Amazon Alexa experience," said James Bennett, director of media and partnerships at Wendy's, in a statement.

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Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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