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Amazon Says No to Ads on Alexa, Frustrating Sony

Here’s a question for Amazon’s Alexa: Will running ads on the virtual assistant turn off users?

The answer, according to Amazon, is yes. Last year, Sony Corp., maker of the Jeopardy game on Alexa, approached Amazon several times about running ads during the game, said a person with knowledge of the matter. But Amazon refused, explaining that advertising on Alexa apps (which it calls skills) could alienate users and cause them to play Jeopardy on the device less.

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Mr. Givens of VaynerMedia predicted that the voice app sector would evolve. “We would look at the voice space almost akin to what you would've thought of five years ago about mobile phones in general. It's a channel that will be used for lots of things. I can envision some voice experiences that will be more directly monetized,” he said.

—Priya Anand contributed to this article.

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“If you were to interrupt that [experience of talking with Alexa] or overtake it with advertising right out the gate, I think you'd run a real risk of alienating the user base.”