Amazon Echo Look was quietly launched as an invitation-only product in April 2017. Digiday is reporting that on February 19, Echo Look users will also start seeing content from Vogue and GQ in their companion app. Voicebot’s Ava Mutchler had this to say about Echo Look when it launched:
The device has built-in LED lighting, a depth-sensing camera and a computer vision-based background blur ‘giving you clean, shareable photos.’ Basically, it’s the ultimate selfie machine…In addition to taking photos and videos of your outfits, the Echo Look can also be a fashion consultant with Style Check. Users submit two photos for a second opinion and Style Check uses machine learning and advice from ‘experienced fashion specialists’ to pick the look that works best for you.
Adding Fashion Content and Ads Alongside Selfies
There is no formal reporting on how frequently Amazon Echo users access their Alexa mobile app, but everyone seems to agree it occurs infrequently and sometime not at all after initial device setup. If a household user didn’t set up the device, they may never have a need to access the app. Echo Look is different. In order to see the photo of your fashion shoot or get feedback on your style, you must open the Echo Look app. That means user attention. Unsurprisingly, Amazon and its publishing partners are seizing that opportunity to deliver content and test an advertising solution. Digiday’s Max Willens reported:
Users take a selfie using the Look, and when they send it to the app, they’ll see fashion, celebrity or service content from the Condé titles, some of it shoppable. If the user clicks to buy a product from the publisher’s content via the app, the publisher gets a cut of the sale.
You can look at this and say Amazon is now delivering in-context content for Echo Look users. You can also interpret this as advertising through the platform.
Advertising For Sure, But Likely Aligned with Consumer Interests
There is a lot of talk about ads and voice assistants. Voicebot reported recently that Amazon refused to allow Sony ads through Alexa. Amazon also denied a CNBC report in January that it was courting brand advertisers for Alexa. An ad test through Google Home by Disney in 2017 faced immediate consumer backlash. Alexa policy changes by Amazon forced software provider Voice Labs to shut down its Alexa advertising solution in 2017 and it recently became a new company with a different, non-advertising focus. Advertising through voice assistants always gets a lot of attention. But, this may be different.
Everyone recognizes that publications like Vogue and GQ have content that promotes product sales. That is true of articles, but it is also important to recognize that many of the magazines’ most loyal customers buy the publications for the ads. Echo Look is certainly targeted today at fashion-forward consumers. These are exactly the type of consumers that are likely to be interested in content, and product recommendations, from Vogue and GQ.
Amazon is showing everyone another way voice assistants can mix content and commerce in a manner that seems natural. As consumers spend more time listening to and looking at content delivered through voice assistant channels, publishers and brands will increasingly look for ways to become part of the conversation. Echo Look may be a niche in the voice assistant ecosystem. However, niche segments are often the best places to experiment with new features and monetization concepts.