- Audi worked with T Brand Studio, the branded content studio of The New York Times, to create a skill for Amazon Alexa, the e-commerce giant's virtual assistant that works on Echo smart speakers and a mobile app, according to an announcement.
- The carmaker is sponsoring a weekday news briefing hosted by Michael Barbaro from the newspaper's "The Daily" podcast. Listeners can activate the news briefing skill with the voice command, "Alexa, enable The New York Times Briefing." Audi's skill will answer questions about its line of electric vehicles.
- In addition, the newspaper also launched several voice-powered services including a news briefing, pop quiz, travel column, music round-up and book recommendations.
The New York Times' expanded audio offerings are another way for the news provider to engage audiences with its original content and deliver a loyal listenership to sponsors like Audi. The newspaper has spent years weaning itself off of print distribution while focusing more on digital platforms that are more likely to reach audiences that have shifted their content consumption to smartphones and tablets.
By developing an Alexa skill, the Times and Audi can potentially reach the 100 million devices that are integrated with the digital assistant. More than 150 products have Alexa built in, while more than 28,000 smart home devices made by more than 4,500 different manufacturers work with Alexa.
The explosive growth in smart speakers has led many brands and content providers to develop apps to reach consumers through virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple's Siri. Smart speaker ownership surged 36% to 53 million U.S. adults, according to a recent survey from National Public Radio (NPR) and Edison Research. About 21% of U.S. adults said they owned a smart speaker, such as an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod. Amazon, the current market leader in smart speakers, will see its share of the market drop to 63% this year from 67% in 2018 as the e-commerce giant faces tighter competition from Google and other companies, eMarketer forecasts.