The Future of News: Publishers Are Teaming Up With Alexa

The Future of News: Publishers Are Teaming Up With Alexa

Picture this: It’s the year 2020. You’re in bed, sound asleep, and your alarm goes off. As you slowly wake up, you are desperate for your morning news update. Eager to find out everything that happened in the world while you’ve been sleeping for the past 8 hours. But you don’t reach for your phone. You haven’t done that since 2018.

Instead, you say five words:

“Alexa read me the news.”

“Good morning, Caitlin. Bringing up the homepage of the New York Times today. Do you want trending news items or entertainment first?”

Sound equal parts amazing and creepy? Yes. And we’re not too far from this update becoming reality for us.

A year ago, I was at a social media conference when the topic of Alexa taking over publishers came up. We discussed the idea as a distant development that could take over websites and change the way we consume content forever or at least until something newer came along.

At the time, I thought it was crazy. But now I think I was crazy not to believe it when I first heard the news.

A recent Digiday article by writer Max Willens confirms Alexa is making steps for this freaky future to be a reality, with Condé Nast publications Vogue and GQ set to begin testing content inside Amazon’s Echo Look.

As Willens writes, “Starting on Feb. 19, the Amazon Echo Look, a camera-equipped version of the Alexa-powered devices will feature content from the magazines on the home screen of its mobile app.”

The feature works like this, you take a selfie, send it directly to the app, and immediately you’re shown fashion, celebrity or service content from these publishers. Sounds pretty genius, if you ask me.

The content, at least a selection of it, will also be shoppable, so you can click the screen and buy a product directly from the Look. This update is great for publishers and advertisers alike, as they mutually benefit, publishers take a cut of the sale, while advertisers have their product front and center.


Image: Amazon Echo Look

Willens continues:

“The content will be chosen by Condé Nast and Amazon employees and be updated once a week. Amazon isn’t paying the publications for the content. But Condé Nast was motivated to experiment on the Look, in part, by seeing more readers asking for help choosing products.”

Unfortunately, this feature won’t be rolling out to everyone, especially given it might be quite hard to get your hands on an Echo Look in the first place. The product, which is part of the Amazon Alexa range, is only available to buy if you are invited to do so.

For the lucky ones who get to test this, GQ and Vogue hope the results will provide them with enough data to be able to tailor content around the Echo Look.

“For us, at first, it’s going to be looking around the data on the content that performs well on our platforms, then figuring out what’s good in service and utility across Amazon,” GQ’s digital GM Rob DeChiaro said.

While this is still a visual, digital update, the end-game is clear: Facebook might need to watch out, as we’re predicting we’ll soon be getting our news directly from Alexa’s mouth.

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