CNBC will sell audio ads after it sees significant voice audience growth in 2017
- After announcing that its voice audience across Amazon and Google has doubled since January 2017, CNBC will soon begin selling audio sponsorship packages to advertisers, according to a Digiday report.
- Though the news publisher didn't release specific numbers, it gauges the success of its voice assistant content by measuring the growth of total audience, their frequency of returning each week and how many times the CNBC skill is unable to answer a user's query on voice-enabled speakers.
- CNBC has created content for Amazon Alexa-powered devices in the U.S. since November 2016 and has expanded content with flash briefings covering CNBC Markets Now, CNBC Tech Check, Mad Money Cramer Remix and Mad Money Lightning Round.
Monetizing skills has been an ongoing challenge for publishers. Another issue is educating audiences about the many skills available and announcing new skills and features. Digiday noted that though there are more than 25,000 skills available on Alexa, 65% of users haven't enabled a third-party skill, according to consulting firm Activate.
CNBC is not immune to the problem of letting users know about new skills on voice-enabled devices. Its own audience research found that a commonly requested feature was stock prices, but most audience members didn't realize that CNBC already offers it. According to the report, over the next year, the news publisher aims to grow its audience of voice-based features by using its other channels to promote the voice-assistant products. Selling audio sponsorship packages will also likely give the publisher an additional revenue stream, but the tricky part will be how to do so without impacting the quality of the content or the user experience.
As the voice assistant user base continues to grow, opportunities for brands and marketers will increase. Amazon reported that it sold "tens of millions" of Alexa-enabled devices during the 2017 holiday season, with the Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick as the top-selling products.
Earlier this year, Amazon updated its Alexa Skills Developer policy to ban skills that contain ads for third-party products or services. However, it allowed exceptions for music streaming, radio and flash briefing skills, when ads were not part of the main purpose or functionality of the skill.
Amazon also recently introduced a pair of monetization tools for skill developers: in-skill purchases and the ability to accept Amazon Pay. The new tools allow developers to sell digital subscriptions or premium content. Skills such as Sports Jeopardy! and Match Game are planning to adopt these in-app payments.