You'll start hearing ads from Alexa in 2018

Amazon Alexa has grown and matured substantially since its launch on the original Echo in late 2014. It's gotten better at contextual conversations, picked up additional skills, and has expanded to more hardware than ever before. Now, it looks like 2018 will be the year that ads become part of the Alexa experience.

According to CNBC, multiple sources confirm that Amazon has been in talks with Procter & Gamble and Clorox about letting the companies pay Amazon a fee to promote their products over others when customers use Alexa. For example, if you tell Alexa that you want to buy some toothpaste, one possible response could be "Okay, I can look for a brand, like Colgate. What would you like?"

Top Alexa results could be like paid Google searches.

The idea is similar to what you often see on Google. When searching for something, the top two or three results are typically ads that a company has paid to be the top few results when users search for a certain keyword. It's easy to look past these paid results on a phone or computer, but when interacting with something that's mainly voice-based, chances are you'll go with whatever's suggested first to make the interaction as short as possible.

Along with promoting certain brands when buying products via Alexa, it's also reported that Amazon wants to integrate adds to Alexa's Skills. For example, CNBC says that asking Alexa for help to clean up a mess around the house could result in a certain brand being suggested if it paid money to have that top spot.

One spokesperson states that Amazon doesn't plan on adding advertisements to Alexa, but like it or not, it's hard to believe that this is actually the case. Alexa is booming for Amazon right now, and the company is absolutely going to monetize it in any way possible.

If/when advertisements come to Alexa, will you be inclined to get another smart speaker over one from Amazon?

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

69 Comments
  • Ugh. It's just a matter of time before this is everywhere...
  • Everywhere? Android's been alone for a decade. I still haven't seen an ad on my phone.
  • You didn't get the lock screen ads from the Google app for Star Wars over the last couple of months? or the Beauty And The Beast audio ads from Google Home last spring? There were pretty widespread reports of it.
  • No, haven't seen any.
  • google confirmed that were not ads but recommendations. google has to be paid for that to be called ads
  • There is nothing in the definition of advertisement that requires money to exchange hands. Any recommendation made by Google Home would classify as an advertisement.
  • Sure! I even get ads based in things I've searched for online in the Android Central Newsfeed
  • Nope. No ads on my phone.
  • No, none.
  • Definitely did not.
  • I hope Google Home doesn't start this crap as well.
  • Didn't they already start last spring with those Beauty And The Beast ads? "Coming up today, you've got an appointment at 10:30, and did you know Beauty And The Beast is now playing at a theater near you? You've also got lunch at 12:15, and..."
  • didnt they already say its not ads? https://venturebeat.com/2017/03/16/google-pretends-its-google-home-beaut...
  • Haven't heard any on my Google Home.
  • Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Gotta make money somehow. Living on a 1% profit isn't pleasing investors all that much huh.
  • If you have paid for it outright, there should be NO ADS
  • Agreed.
  • While you've presumably paid outright for a hunk of plastic and electronics, you haven't paid outright for unlimited ad-free service.
  • Exactly!
  • Amazon Prime? That's a yearly subscription
  • It is but you don't need Prime to use Amazon Echo and Alexa. Maybe Prime members should be exempt from Ads though since they already fork out a fortune for membership
  • Agreed. They should be exempt. Does Kindle still have an option to opt out of ads?. It would be frustrating if you couldn't disable ads even with Prime to use Alexa ad free, especially if Alexa steers you twards Amazon products. The fact that you can potentially pay $100 a year for Prime, a premium for their products, be limited in what you can do outside of Amazon services, and now you're going to be forced to listen to ads? This doesn't seem customer friendly. Does ANY other service do this? My Philips Hue doesn't, my security system doesn't (I can pay a premium (like Prime) and not get advertisements. ) What's convenient about an Echo now that you have to wait for an advertisement before you issue a Smart Home command, ask a question, or listen to music that you've already bought or subscribed to?
  • 1% with no tax paid
  • Hopefully not for Prime members.
  • "Sign up for Prime and get free 2-day shipping on any product advertised by Echo!"
  • It's pretty unlikely I'll hear any ads from Alexa. It was pretty obvious this was coming from the start, though. You can't invite a salesperson into your home and expect them not to try to sell you things.
  • I think if they try this on an item that was purchased without a disclosure of ( with ads) they will have a hell of a great class action law suit on their hands as I for one will be joining said law suit, this would be 100% crazy for them to try !
  • If my echo's start randomly spouting ads and i cant turn off, that will get me to ditch them instantly and replace them with google homes instead (currently still think echo's work better than homes).
  • Google makes all its money from ads. You actually think Google wouldn't follow suit?
  • Doesn't matter to me what Alexa recommends, just like the order of Google search results doesn't matter to me.
  • But it adds unwanted time to the response that you have to listen to.
  • "Okay, I can look for a brand, like Colgate. What would you like?" I'm pretty sure I can tolerate the extra time to say that.
  • Sounds like another good reason to leave those devices at the store or the e-waste drop-off.
  • You can probably "make a few bucks" selling it. Others have some tolerance to ads.
  • "Alexa, cancel that order."
  • Depends on how its done. If I ask Alexa how many ounces in a cup and the response is "I'll tell you right after this message from our sponsor" then that is when I throw the Echo in the trash!
  • Lmao yup
  • I would, too. But I seriously doubt that's how they'll do it.
  • There won't be any ads in my house from these AI devices....just another reason I will keep my head planted firmly in the past and continue to stay away from these things. I have no issue with folks using them, but I will not have anything to do with them.
  • Ew...
  • Now I am guessing Amazon will release "ad-free" Echo's and Dot's and other Alexa devices for a bit more extra cost than the regular one's. Something similar to Kindle (ads on lockscreen vs ad-free for a premium)
  • I don't think they will be ads in the traditional sense of the word. As the article mentioned, companies will pay to have their brands pushed to the front just like in any store you go to. Go to the grocery store, come paid for that display in that prime spot, kellogs paid for their cereal to be in just the right shelf. It will probably be just like the atlrticle meantioned. Hey Alexa, order me toothpaste and paper towels. Alexa then says, I can order Colgate and Bounty. They carry other brands but she starts there. I don't find it a big deal. Now if I have to get a 30 seconds add before she gives me the weather or traffic, I'll have a problem.
  • I got an Echo Dot for Christmas and the searches are crap. If I start hearing ads, I'll just unplug it and throw it in a drawer. No loss.
  • May be they are going to introduce the speaker with "Special Offers" at a lower price.
  • You know that echo can listen in. If it hears you getting it on, it might blurt out an ad for ky or Trojan.
  • If an Echo does that without the hot word being uttered, all hell will break loose.
  • Alexa will maybe need a safe word too?
  • Too many devices spying on us now, and I don't think it's just to see what ads to play.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49jLdh-fBbk
  • The first time I hear an ad from Alexa is the last time she will speak. I will immediately unplug it and it will wind up in recycling.
  • I've got all three of them at home, and I'm going to try and make as much money off them as they are undoubtedly making off me.
  • And this is the point they stop selling and my will be put in a cupboard never to be used again. I don't have time to listen to crappy unhelpful ads when ai is supposed to make life better / more efficient.
  • That’s why they sold devices with a great discount!
  • Oh no not another situation where a huge corporation pays for preferential treatment to get content sent to the end users
  • NOPE. I am going to pass on buying these if there's going to be ads pumped at me!
  • I'm so happy I went with Google Home. I doubt they'll do anything like this since everyone pays Google for advertising anyways. If Google were to do this, all my speakers will go in the trash.
  • Someone noted here that Google already does ads. I would never expect them to NOT do this. So start filling your trash up.
  • To me, it depends on how they do this. If Amazon does it like Spotify Free does (Every X number of songs or Y minutes) and interrupts playback of say an audiobook (Which is the primary reason I have a dot), I'll be looking at removing my Echo Dot. If its start and end of playback, I may put up with it (Depends on how long). Would I pay to skip them? That depends on the cost. I already pay for Prime; I would prefer not to pay too much more if possible.
  • I just switched from Echo to Google Home. I am much happier with home. With this announcement I am happier still.
  • Google does it too. They did it with the "Beauty and the Beast" movie.
  • The second I hear one, I'll unplug it. It's not helpful enough to have one.
  • Yup, no chance I'll keep my Google Home if they start pumping in ads. Especially because I only use it for home control stuff and will never buy anything with it. Give me an ad or a 'recommendation' for a movie when I turn my lights on and it's going straight to craigslist.
  • I can reluctantly tolerate brand suggestions, but if I hear one typical commercial advertisement, Alexa goes straight in the trash. I'll manage without it.
  • This helped me to cease even considering one of these stupid things. The primary reason is if I can't turn on my own lights, there's a bigger problem that no table-top paperweight will help with!
  • I don't mind offering suggestions. But if advertising is inserted into my Alexa interactions they will go into the trash can.
  • what an absolute joke. voice assistants are going to become a scam. at this point, it is better to just use your phone and ignore ads instead of having them read out loud
  • We’re already getting ads. “Sign up for music unlimited or sign up for audible or would you like me to order that for you?” The echo is there to sell you stuff as someone said.
  • Alexa is not welcome in my house.
  • Ah I love Adguard, never see an ad anywhere except those embedded ones in YouTube videos...
  • Who would be insane enough to blindly purchase anything through one of these things. I'll stick with playing my Spotify, turning on lights and occasionally asking my schedule or how may cups in a quart.