Amazon keeps hinting at a future monetization path for Alexa skills, but they haven’t announced anything solid on that front yet. Meanwhile, some devs have already begun monetizing Alexa skills with audio snippets.
This possibility has been open ever since Amazon started allowing devs to include audio snippets in their skills via SSML audio tags. The framework is simple: solicit advertisers to run their 5-15 second spot in your Alexa skill, and charge either a flat rate for the ad placement or charge per impression (e.g., invocation count, as supported by Alexa skill metrics – see Skill Metrics tab in the developer portal dashboard where your Alexa skills are listed).
More recently, marketers have begun to approach the developers of the most popular and best-reviewed skills to invite them to join ad networks that provide the audio clips and pay per impression.
Same Monetization Roadmap As Mobile Apps?
It sure seems like that’s the most logical path. Just as with mobile apps, developers can release multiple versions of their skills: a totally free, minimalist or trial version with no ad support, a more full-featured version with ad support, and hopefully one day, a premium, ad-free version the customer can pay for outright or subscribe to.
Get Ready For The Hate, And Up Your Game
Alexa users have come to expect all skills to be free, and free from advertising support. But they’ve also gotten pretty fed up with the tsunami of mediocre and poor-quality skills on offer, and that annoyance may yet move them to be more accepting of monetization in whatever form it takes—so long as the skills that are monetized are of superior quality.
If you’re going to monetize, you have to make your content worth the money or ads. Your skill’s Alexa output must exceed the length of any audio ad it might play. Your speech output must be optimized for the most natural possible delivery from Alexa. Your utterance file has to cover every possible base. The help function must be robust. Error rate must be minimal: test the bloody hell out of it before you submit for certification.
Add those finishing, nice-to-have touches that make your presentation truly professional. You will want to have a sharp looking skill icon and include custom home cards with attractive images to present a professional image across all Alexa skill platforms. Pay for the artwork if you can’t do a solid job of it yourself.
Finally, ensure the ads you agree to run are a match for your skill’s intended audience, and don’t contain anything users might find offensive. Since you can’t know if children may be exposed to the clip, it’s probably safest to exclude any advertising for adults-only products.
The ability to monetize brings opportunity, but responsibility and risk as well.
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