Get ready for Alexa skills popup on your Amazon Echo Show

Zoom / Amazon Echo Show 15.

Sharon Harding

Amazon will start selling ads to developers to promote their Alexa skills and apps on the platform, according to a report from Bloomberg on Wednesday.

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is “inviting developers to advertise their apps” to Alexa in the form of pop-up ads on the company’s Echo Show smart displays. The goal is to capture the interest of developers, who gravitate more towards smartphone apps, while generating a new revenue stream. The first is priority, Bloomberg said.

Amazon Vice President Aaron Robinson, who works on developer tools, told Bloomberg that paid advertising is “something developers have asked us.” But it’s likely not something that customers have requested — at least not directly.

Eight years later, there are currently about 130,000 Alexa skills (mainly apps), according to Amazon. The more people use Alexa’s unique features, the more committed they will be to the service. This is especially important for emerging technology, such as Amazon’s smart displays, that continue to prove valuable to consumers.

Bloomberg said surveys have shown that people primarily use echo machines to perform simple tasks, such as searching for facts or as a timer. Bloomberg reported in December that keeping customers engaged with Echo products in the long term was a concern for Amazon.

When we tested the Echo Show 15, we wished there was an easier way to navigate its features. The device provides Alexa tips and suggestions through the Alexa Suggestions tool and a section of the Home screen that sometimes shows Orientation or new Alexa skills. However, the random nature of these suggestions ultimately left them puzzling.

Amazon also has a consumer-oriented blog that showcases the latest Alexa features, but a website can’t force information on people the same way a pop-up ad can.

Amazon has not been able to come up with a simple and effective way to advertise Alexa skills in a way that reaches users consistently. Rather than solving this problem on its own, the company appears to be asking developers to spend their own money to let users know Alexa skills and for Echo Show users to deal with ads.

Amazon is said to be increasing the amount of money it gives developers for in-app purchases and subscriptions from 70 percent to 80 percent if they make less than $1 million. Those developers will also be able to get a 10 percent cash back, and Amazon may offer credits to use on ads and more in the future, Robinson told Bloomberg.

For developers of Alexa skills who aren’t making a profit, Amazon is looking to raise payments if those skills are particularly improved or popular, Bloomberg reported.

Fortunately, the Echo speakers, which are a larger Amazon product than the Echo Show and include their best-selling hardware in the form of the Echo Dot, are safe from intrusive ads for now.

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