VoiceLabs announced yesterday that its analytics platform is now monitoring Amazon Alexa skills that serve over one million consumers. That is pretty rapid growth for a company that just officially launched in July 2016. It also means that VoiceLabs has a lot of data on Alexa usage. A recent report by the company points out the Alexa skill growth (citing Voicebot reporting), and reveals average retention rates and the impact of skill promotion by Amazon in its newsletter based on live data from developers.
In addition, the company announced an investment by the Chernin Group but declined to declare the amount other than to say, “we are not constrained by capital.” The funding will be applied to working with more developers and adding new features designed to improve user retention and monetization. Voicebot caught up with Adam Marchick, VoiceLabs CEO and co-founder, about the announcements.
What do you mean by VoiceLabs claiming it has “more than one million Amazon Echo consumers on its network?”
Adam Marchick: We are the most widely used analytics platform on Amazon Alexa and Google Home. We have hundreds of voice application developers on the platform. Those apps collectively support over one million voice consumers [on Echo].
What value does 1 million mean for VoiceLabs or its users?
Marchick: The fist thing is a responsibility of having a million user in terms of data privacy and keeping things anonymous. In all stages of an ecosystem you have to be able to trust your analytics provider. The second is that voice developers are creating apps and they need benchmarks. They need to know how they are dong and whether they are doing relatively good or bad. No one has built voice apps before. Without appropriate benchmarks it is hard to judge success and build a business.
What have you learned about skill usage and retention?
Marchick: Where retention is versus where its going is different. Retention is going to get much much better very soon. The reason why? Consumers are going to start to get more comfortable with voice applications and make them part of their daily lives. Developers are going to get better with developing fresh content that brings people back.
There will also be new tools like push notifications that will alert users when new content is available. This is the same thing that occurred in mobile where mobile [usage] was much lower early on before they learned how to do it. When push notifications came about, we brought back 3-5% of users. At Kahuna, we were able to bring back 15-20% by using timeliness and personalization. That is why services like VoiceLabs exist. To identify how to do this and give solutions to do it versus recreating the wheel.
Is user retention a problem on Alexa right now?
Marchick: There are 493 weather skills right now. That seems like too many. I would estimate that only five have critical mass. That is natural and expected and part of any healthy ecosystem. Is having a massive amount of apps a good thing? That means some skills aren’t heavily used and will bring down average user retention rates. You would rather have 493 weather apps and let consumers decide which ones they love and let let the ecosystem grow instead of artificially constraining the system and forcing everyone to use one. That would undermine innovation. There are 8,000 apps and only a percentage of them are winners or big hits. It’s fine.