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The Amazon Echo had a good run being an ad-free platform, but that seems to be coming to an end. A company called VoiceLabs is reportedly planning to stick in 6 to 15-second advertisements at the beginning and end of some Alexa skills.
This will help advertisers setup “Sponsored Messages” and, according to VoiceLabs, users have generally not minded the interruption. It’s VoiceLabs’ goal to make the advertisements brief and unobtrusive for most users, but also "lead a consumer into an experience or converse with the consumer as they exit." So far, only two noteworthy companies have signed on to participate in VoiceLabs’ tests: Wendy’s and ESPN.
Basically, if you are using any of the Echo or Echo Dot's sports based skills, you might hear an ad at the beginning that says “Welcome, thanks for listening and thanks to ESPN for sponsoring us.” After using the app a few more times, ESPN might inform you of a big sports event coming up before asking if you’d like to be reminded to watch it.
Another good news is the fact that there are some very strict limitations on which apps can use Sponsored Messages. The ads can only appear in streaming music, radio or flash briefing skills and they can't use Alexa's voice to say them. This means that the vast majority of the Echo's 13,000 available skills won’t be a target for new ads, for now.
It honestly doesn't seem too bad, but only time will tell if the ads will get better or worse. What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments below.