Amazon is paying Alexa game developers. Will that expand to all skills categories?

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Voice analytics platform VoiceLabs recently launched audio ads, arguing that developers needed to get paid and Amazon wasn’t offering its own monetization. With ads only allowed in three categories — streaming radio, streaming music and news-flash briefings — how would that work?

One way may be direct payments from Amazon. The company is currently paying game developers with high-usage skills.

A letter recently sent to developers said, “We are exploring new ways to reward our developers for their skills in the US, UK and Germany. Starting this month, we are giving eligible game skill developers the opportunity to earn money for their skill based on customer usage.” The following is from Amazon’s FAQs about “rewards”:

  • We will identify top game skills to reward each month. If your skill qualifies, you will be notified by email.
  • Payment is based on your skill’s customer usage. The email you receive from the Alexa team will include the details of your payment amount.
  • Customer usage could be measured using a variety of metrics, such as minutes of usage, new customers, and other measures of engagement.

Amazon is opaque about rates and amounts. It’s also not clear whether or when this will come to other skills categories. What is clear, however, is that developers do need a way to make money from their efforts. (If popular, the forthcoming Amazon Show could totally change things for developers.)

A report in The Information says, “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has decided that games are the killer app for Alexa.” I couldn’t disagree more. Games are fun and can be addictive, but utility and convenience are the things Amazon should cultivate, or it will ultimately lose to Google.

So if Amazon is thinking about “rewards” as the primary monetization scenario for top-performing skills, it should think beyond gaming.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.


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