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Amazon Adds Interactive Features To Audio Ads; Beta-Launches Working With Outside Streamers.

With a nod to its ecommerce heritage, a two-day showcase of Amazon advertising called Unboxed this week aimed to give the giant a bigger share of marketing budgets. It also showed off the growing importance of audio inside Amazon, as it debuted new interactive features for audio ads that play via Alexa-enabled devices.

Amazon has already been looking at new ways to leverage the advertising possibilities on its smart speaker Alexa by recently adding voice command “buy now” and “more information” features on commercials that play as part of the ad-supported tier of Amazon Music on Alexa-enabled devices. That has opened the door to a new invitation-only beta test for expanded interactive audio ad capabilities.

Alan Moss, VP of Global Advertising Sales, said it will make it “more natural” for audiences to take an action on interactive audio ads they just heard by using one of three calls to action. They include “remind me,” “send me more information” and “add to cart.” Alexa will know which product is featured in the ad and add that item to the cart or set the relevant reminder. In the past, listeners would need to remember the exact name of the advertised product to interact by voice, but that product mention is no longer needed in the beta test in the U.S. “By eliminating the need to remember the name of the product or service, we’re reducing the friction and making it even more natural for audiences to take an action after hearing your audio ads,” Moss told marketers.

Advertisers that use the feature will get metrics on how many people took a voice-first action such as putting something in their cart after hearing a commercial. It will also work with clients on creative and production on interactive ads.

Patrick Givens, Product Marketing Lead for audio ads at Amazon Ads, said they expect to open the feature to more marketers in 2022. “We’ll continue to evolve our experiences based on advertiser and customer feedback,” he said.

The move comes after Amazon conducted a survey with Ipsos that found 39% of people with Alexa-enabled devices said they would be more likely to respond to an ad if given the option for voice commands.

“Interactive advertising has been available on Amazon for some time, but never before has it been so seamless and intuitive for audiences to engage with your interactive ads,” said Moss.

Expanding Amazon Audio Reach

Thanks to smart speakers, Amazon has become a big tech champion of audio advertising. “Audio is everywhere and all the time,” said Givens. He pointed to Edison Research data that shows Americans are averaging four hours a day listening to audio. “This growth in streaming audio consumption is happening in parallel another trend: the emergence of the smart home – specifically smart speakers,” said Givens.

As the maker of hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices, it’s no surprise that smart speakers are the audio segment that Amazon sees as most critical. Of them, the biggest music source is Amazon Music with 90% of its free tier coming on Alexa-enabled devices. But to grow its reach, Amazon has beta-launched an expansion of its audio advertising by working with third-party audio music streamers and radio companies via Amazon Publisher Services. While no partners were announced, Givens said it would also offer “reserved access” to inventory, even in time periods that are typically sold out without any additional fees.

Understanding The Listener

As it expands its focus on audio, Amazon has been conducting several studies to better understand listeners. In new research, Amazon and Ipsos surveyed 3,000 U.S. consumers to try to understand the differences between those who use connected devices and those that don’t. That included a deep dive into those who used their Amazon devices at least once a month to listen to audio content. They found they have different demographics, media behaviors and shopping behaviors.

Among this group, 38% said they paid the most attention to ads delivered on smart devices. And 29% said they make an online purchase every day. “Not surprisingly, these consumers over-index in likelihood to purchase every measured category by an average of 30%,” said Alyson Sprague, Senior Program Manager of Measurement and Research for Amazon’s audio ads. She said they are also 32% more likely to stream audio at least once per week. And are 21% more apt to pay the most attention to ads delivered in streamed audio. They’re also 64% more likely than general consumers to have embraced new innovations in audio, such as Clubhouse.

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