Hey Alexa! Don’t answer my question with a @#$% Ad!

It is bad enough when you are doing a search in your browser you get presented with ‘Sponsored’ (ad) results. At least if you asked Alexa something she would provide a generic and ad-free response. Depending on the questions asked that could soon change as early as next year.

A new Alexa feature has been announced at the Amazon Accelerate conference called “Customers Ask Alexa,” which allows brands to submit their own answers to questions you may ask the device.

One such example was “How can I remove pet hair from my carpet?” which would usually provide generic tips or advice pulled from the web. Now, as reported by TechCrunch, brands can submit their own answers (presumably in the form of recommending their own products) and link the inquirer to their Amazon storefront.

Alexa spitting out ads Annoying? Yes. Illegal? Not really. However, another announcement from the same event is going to raise a few eyebrows.

…Amazon could also soon allow brands and merchants you’ve purchased from to email you directly.

Where Amazon previously only allowed sellers to contact customers who had willingly opted to follow brands or stores, the new Tailored Audiences feature will permit third-party sellers and brands to run personalized email marketing campaigns across three new groups: repeat customers, high-spend customers, and recent customers. Amazon is currently testing Tailored Audiences in a beta program, and the company plans to make it available to all US sellers in early 2023.

The first thing that came to mind about this new feature was does this violate the CAN-SPAM Act? The answer is no. While CAN-SPAM does require senders to identify each commercial email message as an advertisement, there is no requirement for the user to opt-in (though they must be able to clearly opt-out). However, if this feature were to go live, I would not be surprised if it brought unwanted attention for Amazon by the EU and/or State of California.

via The Verge