SEATTLE: Major FMCG advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Clorox are reported to be talking with Amazon about how they can promote their products via Alexa, the e-commerce giant’s voice assistant.

So far, Amazon has done little around advertising on its Echo, which has grabbed an early lead in voice-powered devices, but sources told CNBC that is set to change.

As more consumers start to use Alexa – an estimated 25m in 2017, with “tens of millions” more devices being sold over the holidays – advertisers are becoming increasingly excited by how they can best position their brands in voice-activated search results, where consumers are more likely to select the top choice offered.

According to CNBC’s sources, early discussions have centred around the Google model of paid searches, with brands paying for higher placement.

Amazon is also in talks about promotional opportunities that would allow brands to leverage past buying behaviour to, for example, cross-sell related products in a portfolio.

Such moves would mark a departure from the current practice, which permits Alexa skills to have ads – as long as these don’t sound like Alexa or refer to her.

“We have to come up with the right monetization opportunity,” said Doug Rozen, chief digital and innovation officer at media agency OMD. “But it can’t get in the way of what we are trying to use these devices for.”

Alternative approaches are highlighted in Carat's top 10 trends for 2018: this notes how Amazon is trying to encourage discovery through Echo, with initiatives like ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things’, where the TV star describes her favourite items of the season, which people can then buy.

Greg Stemler, Ernst & Young’s US consumer products and retail leader for transaction advisory services, observed that “artificial intelligence doesn’t appear to recognize brand value, and it doesn’t articulate it.

“It may be a real challenge for branded consumer packaged goods companies to readjust,” he said.

UK readers can sign up for a WARC event next week, Toolkit 2018 - Customer Experience, GDPR and Voice Strategy, where they can hear how Arsenal football club integrated with Alexa to provide fans with access to all things Arsenal through simple voice commands. 

Sourced from CNBC; additional content by WARC staff