Virtual assistants might make our lives easier but that level of convenience could soon come at a cost - sponsored content.
At the moment, Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo devices are relatively ad-free but that could soon change if a recent CNBC report proves accurate. According to the publication, Amazon has been in talks with "several companies" including Proctor & Gamble and Clorox about the possibility of implementing paid advertisements into the Alexa ecosystem.
The move could result in some companies having their products listed higher in Alexa's voice search results than others, something many brands are "particularly focused on" due to the high likelihood that many Alexa shoppers will simply go with the first or second search option provided rather than allowing the device to rattle the rest off. This is in stark contrast to the way Google's own search result advertisements work, where users can simply scroll past or otherwise ignore sponsored content with minimal effort.
Though CNBC's sources suggest Amazon is considering implementing these advertisements as early as this year, the company is reportedly already performing a few scattered experiments including offering users product suggestions based on their shopping history. If a user buys a cleaning product from Clorox, Alexa may suggest another similar Clorox product at a later date, for example.
Despite this information, one Amazon spokesperson has since claimed the company has "no plans" to bring advertisements to their smart assistant platform. Time will tell whether or not this proves to be true.