Effective today, VoiceLabs will not be offering Sponsored Messages to Alexa Skills.

First off, there is a reason we are called VoiceLabs. The Voice-First market is very new, and as a company we are committed to listening to our customers and experimenting. We heard a need from developers to support their efforts in building skills, and wanted to offer a scalable monetization program.

We have been experimenting with Sponsored Messages since January, and announced the program May 11. We are very proud that we delivered millions of Audio Ads on the Alexa service that were accepted by consumers. There were a few consumers unhappy with the advertising, but statistically, consumers accepted the ads and kept using the Alexa skills at the same rate, and developers were elated to finally have a real revenue stream.

We paid out thousands of dollars to developers, and they were invigorated to invest more in their Alexa skills.

The May 21st Policy change by Amazon really drove home that the market is not ready. VoiceLabs and our partners were most excited to introduce interactive advertising that converses with consumers to create innovative experiences.

For example, a consumer would be asked if they were going to watch the NBA finals game airing that day. If the user said yes, it would let them know to tune in for the 6pm start time. If not, the Sponsored Message would let them which channel to tune into at 10pm for all the highlights.

This ability to react to user preferences opens the door to a whole new field of audio advertising, and the May 21st Policy prevents this. We understand why Amazon did this, and based on this policy change combined with the limited set of Alexa skills that are allowed to advertise, we made the decision that the market was not ready. VoiceLabs is and always will be 100% within Amazon policy.

VoiceLabs is committed to supporting the Voice developer ecosystem, providing products that consumers accept, and doing all this through innovation that surprises and delights that market. As a company, we decided that we are currently prevented from doing this with our Sponsored Messaging product.

Most importantly, we want to thank our launch partners: Federated Media, XAPPmedia, TWiT.tv, Appbly and many other independent Alexa skill developers. They joined us for this exciting opportunity, and have been extremely understanding that the changes make Sponsored Messages too early to invest in heavily.

VoiceLabs would like to thank Nativ.ly, our Brand Advertising partner, who worked tirelessly to help us launch this program.

What’s next? VoiceLabs is still the leading Voice Analytics company, and will continue to invest in our Analytics platform. Voice Applications are getting more interesting with visual synchronization (Echo Show, Google Connected Home), and a new wave of apps are coming.  In addition, our Analytics product serves as the foundation for more data-driven growth products, which we will be launching in the near future.

We have a new product in the works, and if you are an online company who wants to be involved in the voice and conversational app revolution, please reach out to us! – adam@voicelabs.co