Amazon is exploring how to turn the Echo into a Trojan horse for advertisers

Amazon Echo.
(Image credit: David Becker/Getty Images)

It's a brand new year, but Amazon is still being creepy. The latest news is that the retail giant's Echo smart speakers could soon assess your shopping habits and sneakily nudge you towards buying from a particular brand that has a partnership with Amazon, CNBC reports.

As things stand now, the speakers allow advertising on music, news, or podcasts, although the "voice" isn't allowed to sound like or refer to Amazon's own voice assistant, Alexa. Brands, though, are itching for more. "Advertisers and brands are particularly focused on search placement on Alexa because shoppers are more likely to select a top result on a voice assistant than they are on the web, where it's easy to scroll down or ignore written suggestions," CNBC writes. For example, if a customer asks for toothpaste, Alexa can potentially say: "Okay, I can look for a brand, like Colgate. What would you like?"

Amazon is reportedly considering expanding this strategy to target customers based on their shopping history. Alexa could theoretically suggest a customer who used one product — say, Clorox's Pine-Sol — consider buying another product from the same brand, like Clorox's disinfecting wipes. Likewise, "someone asking the Echo for help cleaning up a spill might be nudged to use a specific brand," CNBC writes. In addition to Clorox, Procter & Gamble is also involved in talks about how to promote its products on the Echo.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Read more about how Alexa might try to subtly push you toward brands that have partnerships with Amazon at CNBC.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us