What we are thinking about


VoiceLabs’ Sponsored Messages is the first native solution to help Amazon Alexa developers monetize, and continue to invest in the voice-first evolution.

Sign up to participate in VoiceLabs Sponsored Messaging here.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — MAY 11, 2017 — VoiceLabs, the leader in Voice Experience Analytics, today releases Sponsored Messages, enabling top-tier brands to reach voice-first consumers in the home and Alexa developers to invest in their applications.

After creating a new audio format and running extensive consumer tests, VoiceLabs believes this will be the first ad format that consumers will understand and accept on voice assistant platforms. Sponsored Messages have been in the testing phase for the past few months, with positive consumer feedback and brand engagement lift.

This is the first scalable interactive audio advertising solution ever released, where the consumer has the power to ask for more information, add products to their Amazon cart and give feedback to the advertiser.

Sponsored Messages give brands the ability to learn from consumers what products they prefer in an interactive, real-time, audio format. This has never before been possible via traditional radio or podcast mediums, and VoiceLabs is pioneering a new way to deliver brand messages, and measure effectiveness.

As a testament to this value, some of the best brands in the world are participating in Sponsored Messages, including ESPN and Wendy’s.

In addition, high-quality Alexa developers Federated Media, XAPPmedia, TWiT.tv, Appbly and many independent Alexa skill developers are participating in the launch of Sponsored Messages.

Sign up to participate in VoiceLabs Sponsored Messaging here.

How VoiceLabs achieves consumer acceptance: Advertising optimized for the Alexa experience, that takes advantage of the interactive capabilities of Amazon Alexa’s Artificial Intelligence

The first tenet of Sponsored Messages is brevity. Amazon Echo consumers expect efficient communications, and VoiceLabs built new advertising formats with this necessity in mind.

“We are fortunate to have advertising partners who ‘get it.’ For example, we collaborated with Progressive and Wendy’s to create Sponsored Messages that are both short, and also tell a brand story over the course of multiple user sessions,” said VoiceLabs’ Chief Product Officer Alex Linares.

The second tenet of Sponsored Messages is the approach. Unlike past attempts at voice-first advertising, Sponsored Messages are clearly marked as advertising, and explain that Sponsored Messages are how Alexa developers can continue investing in the skill the consumer is enjoying.

“We took a page from one of our favorite companies, the Public Broadcasting Company, in thanking consumers for supporting Alexa developers and highlighting brand partners who are playing a role in supporting this budding ecosystem,” said CEO of VoiceLabs, Adam Marchick.

The third tenet of Sponsored Messages is relevancy. Each Sponsored Message is delivered to a relevant user demographic and related to the application’s content.

The final tenet of Sponsored Messages is the intelligent insertion. For example, consumers may only hear Sponsored Messages once every 15 sessions, only after their fourth interaction with the skill, and the format and position of the messages will vary. This optimization is done in partnership with the skill developer, and part of VoiceLabs’ core ad serving technology.

A new ad format: Sponsored Messages are interactive ads with personality

In addition, Sponsored Messages take advantage of the deep artificial intelligence of Amazon Alexa. Users can now interact with the brand message and feel part of the conversation.

These interactive ads are in production and will be coming out in a timely fashion, based on current events and upcoming promotions.

Before VoiceLabs’ Sponsored Messages, top Alexa Developers were at risk of abandoning the Amazon Alexa platform

With the consumer experience satisfied, Sponsored Messages brings monetization to a developer community that desperately needs and deserves it.

So far, over 13,000 voice developers have created Alexa skills, with no ability to monetize and support their efforts.

In the 2017 Voice Report, VoiceLabs noted that lack of monetization was a major roadblock to the growth of the ecosystem, and today the company is excited to remove that roadblock.

“I have been working hard developing Alexa Skills for over a year, and I can finally support my efforts. Building on Amazon Alexa has been a labor of love, but essentially grew into a part-time job as my Skills became popular. If Sponsored Messages didn’t come along soon I would have had to shift my development efforts to another platform or even consider shutting down my Skills entirely,” said Nick Schwab, one of the top ten Alexa and Microsoft Cortana skill developers in the world.

“The hardest part about it was the more popular my Skills became, the more money and time I had to spend to support them, with no prospect of recouping on my investments. Today, this major issue is solved with VoiceLabs’ Sponsored Messages.”

VoiceLabs has made it easy for Alexa skills to enable Sponsored Messages, and built online monetization analytics on top of its market leading product analytics.

“Federated Media’s stations want to connect with our listeners every way that is convenient for them. The Amazon Echo is now that choice in the home, and in the future Alexa skills will be accessible in the car, on smartphones and wherever listeners happen to be,” said James Derby, Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Programming, Federated Media.

“We are excited about the new platform, and we also know that great radio programming requires new revenue streams. VoiceLabs’ Sponsored Messages and XAPPmedia is the perfect fit for delivering a great user experience on Alexa while delivering revenue for the stations.”

The largest brands in the world see the VoiceFirst opportunity

“Wendy’s is focused on bringing our brand voice to innovative new touch points with consumers, and we are thrilled to be the first QSR to leverage VoiceLabs’ Sponsored Messages to reach consumers within their Amazon Alexa experience,” James Bennett, Director of Media and Partnerships, Wendy’s.

The Amazon Echo consumer is interested in trying new things, and Echo devices are placed in the kitchen, living room and other important places in the home. With Sponsored Messages, brands can deliver a message about a new cuisine right as a consumer is planning their shopping list, or announce that a new show is premiering that night on their TV.

VoiceLabs partnered with nativ.ly, a company that specializes in connecting top brands with emerging advertising opportunities.

“The nativ.ly team members are experts in understanding new media platforms and helping top-tier brands innovate on these platforms. We are fortunate to have such a great partner in nativ.ly as we launch Sponsored Messages,” said CEO Adam Marchick.

The Future

VoiceLabs launching Sponsored Messages is just the start of the journey to help voice developers invest in innovation. The company is announcing more capabilities in the upcoming quarter, as it looks to lead the growth of the VoiceFirst future. For a preview of new products coming from VoiceLabs, review The 2017 Voice Report for noted friction points present in the ecosystem.

The VoiceLabs Analytics service is free and available here.

Sign up to participate in VoiceLabs Sponsored Messaging here.

For more information, please contact press@voicelabs.co.

VoiceLabs’ Market Leadership in Analytics Enabled Sponsored Messages Opportunity

VoiceLabs is the most widely used voice analytics platform for Amazon Alexa, and is the voice analytics launch partner for Actions on Google.

The company has over 1,300 Voice developers on its platform, and many of these developers expressed an interest in finding the right way to serve their consumers, while being able to support and invest in their voice application.

VoiceLabs took this interest and crafted the balance between an engaging sponsored message and a seamless consumer experience. Sponsored Messages strike the balance because of Alexa-optimized Audio, Advanced Insertion and Continual Optimization.

Alexa-optimized Audio

With extensive consumer feedback and cohort analysis, VoiceLabs created new advertising formats, tailored for the voice-first experience. The advertising is concise, clearly marked as sponsored, and is tailored to the voice application.

Previous attempts at advertising attempted to hide paid-for messages, Sponsored Messages takes the opposite approach. Much like Google AdWords, Sponsored Messages are clearly noted as advertising, which builds consumer trust.

Advanced Insertion

Part of the delight of Amazon Alexa is quick results to consumer questions. It was critical that Sponsored Messages were not seen as a gate to consumer value, but rather part of the experience.

To this end, VoiceLabs created a myriad of tuning capabilities to make sure the right ad is inserted at the right time, and the consumer does not get too many Sponsored Messages. VoiceLabs’ market leading Analytics product aids in monitoring consumer retention cohorts, and the developer can further tune advertising to strike the right balance.

“The Amazon Echo is bringing radio back into the home. It provides a tremendous opportunity for radio stations to connect with their audience and increase listening hours. XAPP pioneered voice interactive monetization for radio on mobile in 2013 and we were immediately impressed by the VoiceLabs advertising solution for Amazon Alexa.”

“We have partnered with VoiceLabs on behalf of our radio station customers because it provides an opportunity to generate revenue that is in-line with a great listener experience,” said Pat Higbie, CEO and co-founder of XAPPmedia.

Continuous Optimization

Sponsored Messages are a novel concept, and as with any new platform and capability advertising must be responsive to consumer feedback. Sponsored Messages are 100% opt-in for the developer, and can be tuned in real-time as the voice application and consumer behavior evolves. This ability ensures a long-term relationship between the developer and consumer.

How Sponsored Messages Work

Sponsored Messages are 6-15 seconds long, and inserted at the start and end of conversations, where they can naturally lead a consumer into an experience or converse with the consumer as they exit.

VoiceLabs Advanced Insertion capabilities include a leading session buffer and individual consumer thresholds for messages per day and per session. Combining this with cohort analysis, developers can continuously optimize the consumer experience.

In addition, VoiceLabs is ushering a new era of interactive audio messages, where a consumer can ask for a product, and it will show up on their doorstep the next day, courtesy of Amazon.

About VoiceLabs

VoiceLabs is a pioneer in Voice Experience Analytics, evolving voice applications in the home, car and on the go. VoiceLabs’ flagship offering is a Voice Analytics service, which serves as the foundation for data-driven growth products. By being an early leader, VoiceLabs has listened to customers and rolled out compelling capabilities such as Voice Pathing, User Profiles and Voice KPIs. VoiceLabs works with great companies as they adapt to the millions of consumers now using their voice to get things done, by providing engagement and monetization solutions in this emerging Voice ecosystem.

The VoiceLabs Analytics service is free and available here.

Sign up to participate in VoiceLabs Sponsored Messaging here.

For more information, please contact press@voicelabs.co.