Amazon updated their developer policy recently to ban nearly all advertisements from Alexa skills. As the Alexa platform continues to rapidly grow, having now reaching over 12,000 skills, it’s beginning to attract advertisers, despite Amazon’s policy on the matter. Amazon has just updated their policy on Alexa skill ads again to be more specific on the types of ads that are allowed, and reassert that the vast majority of ads are not permitted in Alexa skills.
When Amazon initially banned most advertisements from Alexa skills, it raised a few questions about what classifies as an ad. For example, if the Domino’s Pizza skill suggests that you add an item to your order, is that considered an ad? Amazon’s most recent Alexa skill policy changes have added more details for acceptable ads.
Alexa skills that provide streaming music, radio, podcasts, and flash briefings are still the primary types of skills that may have advertisements. Amazon has clarified that these skills may not use Alexa, or an Alexa-like voice, to read the ad. These ads must be pre-recorded audio, like you’d hear on traditional radio, and they must be the same types of ads you’d hear if you listened to the music/podcast/news through a non-Alexa device.
Alexa skills that “allow customers to order products or services” may also have advertisements, but those ads may only promote the products or services offered within the skill. So, for example, the Uber skill may promote other Uber services, but can’t play an ad for Coca-Cola.
The only other instances when an Alexa skill is allowed to play an ad is if the user explicitly asks to hear one, like a retailer’s skill which lets you ask to hear about deals, or if the whole purpose of the skill is to promote something, like the Tide skill.
Amazon says they “reserve the right to reject or suspend” any Alexa skills that play advertisements which don’t follow these new guidelines. You can read the policy details for yourself here.