Amazon rejects report suggesting that it plans to turn Echo voice assistants into ad machines
The blue glow of the Amazon Echo isn't at all sinister
Amazon's Alexa AI tech is set to be expanded - with a deal in the pipeline for advertising to be pumped direct to users' devices.
According to CNBC, the retail giant has been negotiating with a range of major companies, such as Clorox and Procter & Gamble, to let them promote their products via Alexa.
In the near future, Amazon could roll out a service for its voice assistants that replicates Google's paid searches. Essentially, companies would pay Amazon for the privilege of their products coming up when users make voice searches.
So far, Amazon has been reluctant to implement advertising on the Echo in-home assistant, for fear that it would put people off, but the company may find the advertising opportunity too lucrative to turn down -
Personal assistants have boomed in popularity since the first Amazon Alexa was released in 2014, and many consumer companies fear losing money and market share as a result of artificial intelligence technology.
As CNBC notes, brands are keen pay technology companies, such as Amazon, a lot of money to appear near the top of searches when consumers look for certain products.
This isn't the first time that such news has hit the press. In the past, Amazon has suggested that it's looking to release a paid advertisement service for Alexa.
Amazon has yet to make its move, although CNBC's sources suggest that it will introduce paid advertising at some point this year.
Amazon, though, has officially rejected the report. The company said it doesn't currently have plans to bring advertisements to either Alexa or its Echo speakers.
However, Amazon now has more than 5,000 employees working on Alexa and related products, who all need to be paid.
Whether it proves possible to 'monetise' the devices with advertising is also open to question.
Ernst & Young's Greg Stemler, Americas consumer products & retail industry sector leader for transaction advisory services at the firm, isn't convinced. "In these early days, artificial intelligence doesn't appear to recognise brand value, and it doesn't articulate it," he told CNBC.
"It may be a real challenge for branded consumer packaged goods companies to readjust."