Not directly podcast-related, but it’s always important to follow wherever the distribution point goes. On Wednesday, Ad Age reported that Amazon is starting to offer a few select advertisers the opportunity to test audio ad campaigns that will be inserted into the Alexa voice-activated experience. Unless I’m mistaken, this marks a genuine step forward as far as the nexus of advertising and the Alexa platform is concerned.
Previously, brands were limited to developing their own Alexa skills, and Amazon had assumed a stance that appears to be fairly averse to outside attempts at developing monetization tools for skill creators. Which is to say, Amazon seems pretty intent to control whatever the flow of money looks like within the Alexa ecosystem — something that should be kept in mind for folks who believe Alexa to be a crucial point for audio content distribution in the days to come.
Be sure to check out the whole Ad Age piece, as it has a ton of fascinating detail, particularly as it pertains to the general tenor with which Amazon conducts itself when presenting Alexa’s value to advertisers. But keep in mind, also, the broader context: the Jeff Bezos armada is very quickly establishing itself as a massive advertising business — in strong position to reshape the contemporary duopoly structure defined by Google and Facebook — and it’s further angling for a crack at the music streaming business, potentially messing up the landscape currently defined by Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. (By the way, if you need a key to read Amazon’s various machinations and how they fit together, I tend to interpret the company’s adventures through the lens of Ben Thompson’s “Amazon Tax” framework. Or, if you need a more jagged expression of that analysis, this Bloomberg Opinion column does the trick.)
Again, not directly podcast-related, especially when you consider that smart speakers haven’t really driven very much podcast consumption in the first place. Nevertheless, it’s all audio, and this ecosystem does not exist in a vacuum.