We previously reported that Spotify was investing in advertising integrated with voice technology. Now the streaming service has launched these voice-controlled advertisements, in which the listener can activate the content of an ad with a verbal utterance.
The first voice ads being tested include one for a playlist on Spotify sponsored by Unilever's Axe, and another for Spotify's original podcast content, a podcast titled Stay Free: The Story of the Clash. Yes, it's all very punk rock.
When the ad plays, it will ask listeners to check out the sponsored content by saying "Play Now". If the user responds with anthing else except “Play Now,” a tone will sound and the mic is disabled. The ad break then continues as normal. At least to start with, these ads will only promote other services within the Spotify app, so basically, just commercials for other audio content than what you're currently listening to when the ad strikes.
These voice ads will only occur to a selection of Spotify’s free mobile listeners (on iOS or Android) in the US during the initial testing period. You have to have already enabled Spotify’s voice controls to qualify for this test, for example, if you use Spotify's current voice search feature to find content, you've got it turned on.
You can opt out for now, but it's not going to go away
Users can choose to opt out of voice ads in the app at Settings > Voice-Enabled Ads. You can also stop this by disabling the Spotify mobile app's microphone permissions in your device settings.
Spotify's voice ads are likely to be just the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to the monetization of voice technology. Rival music service Pandora has confirmed it would begin testing interactive voice ads later this year.
We're already getting used to the convenience and ubiquity of voice assistants in our devices, homes and everyday life. So far the industry is still in the process of winning hearts and minds and making them as useful as possible, but Ill bet that it won't be long before voice tech follows other phenomenon like social media and begins to serve up more ads and nudging us towards corporate interests and particular purchases in both subtle and not so subtle ways.
What do you think about voice ads?