Spotify tests voice-enabled ads for those who prefer talking to tapping

Spotify

When you think about it, why should audio ads, like the kind you hear on Spotify, be passive, simply because you’re at the gym, or driving? You can still use your voice after all, so why not make these ads voice-enabled so that you can still interact with them, even if your hands are otherwise occupied? That’s exactly the idea the Spotify is now exploring. On Thursday, May 2, the subscription music service launched a test of voice-enabled ads on a limited basis in the U.S.

The ads, which for now only respond to the words “play now,” will be served to listeners who are using the ad-supported Spotify tier, and who have already set their app permissions to allow voice control, according to Variety. The first two of these voice-enabled ads are for Unilever’s Axe brand — which will send listeners to a related branded playlist — and Spotify Studios, which will forward listeners to the Spotify Original podcast, Stay Free: The Story of the Clash. Of course, if you stay silent, you will be returned to your playlist or whichever piece of audio you were currently listening to. We imagine it won’t be long before Amazon follows suit, now that it has its own ad-supported tier for Amazon Music.

Voice-enabled ads could potentially be a boon to both advertiser and listener alike. Audio ads may be harder to ignore than the tsunami of banner ads we see on a daily basis, but it can be hard to know if a listener paid any attention unless they engage with the ad. Adding voice as a way to interact substantially lowers the effort involved to engage, especially during activities that are hands-free by necessity. Listeners may also appreciate being able to take action on something they find relevant or interesting. “Play now” might be the first way to interact, but there’s no reason Spotify couldn’t expand to a much larger set of commands, like “bookmark it,” “send it to me,” or “remind me tomorrow.” We’re so used to interacting with our voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, being able to holler at the ads we hear just seems like a natural evolution. If it takes off, this will be one more nail in terrestrial and satellite radio’s coffin as Spotify edges ever closer to world domination.

Speaking of radio, The Verge observed what appears to be an effort by Spotify to create a virtual morning show for your drive to work. The website was offered a playlist called Your Daily Drive, which mixed music tracks with podcast episodes. Spotify has been on a podcasting acquisition streak which has been breathtaking in its scope. It likely won’t be long before its podcast pool is so deep, it will be able to come up with algorithmically chosen episodes to pair with music, for a customized “show” that perfectly matches the length of your commute. We weren’t able to conjure Your Daily Drive when we went looking for it, but we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes (and ears) open for it.

Mobile

From true crime to comedy, here's our list of the best podcasts around

When you aren’t in the music mood, podcasts can be your ear candy. Whether you love to stay up-to-date on the latest news or want to know what’s happening in sports, you’ll find something on our must-listen-to podcast roundup.
Movies & TV

Best new podcasts: Overheard at National Geographic and more

Feel like you’re drowning in podcasts? In this weekly series, we’ll help you pick out the best of the new and returning shows. This week’s picks include deep advice, National Geographic conversations, censorship, and spectacular…
Mobile

Crowdsourced interactive mapping app Waze gives you the lowdown on traffic

Waze is a free, ad-supported interactive navigation app with benefits. It calculates routes using social media crowdsourcing to alert you to current traffic conditions. Wazers act as the road's eyes and ears to alert other travelers.
Smart Home

The best smart thermostats let you stay cool without wasting money

The right thermostat can do more than just adjust the temperature of your home, it can also learn about you and help you save money. Check out our picks for the best smart thermostats on the market right now.
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

These simple fixes will get you right back to your favorite show on Hulu

So you're watching a Hulu original series or your favorite reruns and everything just stops. Buffering, poor video quality, freezing videos, connection errors and skipping are common Hulu problems. Here's how to fix what's wrong.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods — we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our favorites, with all the features you want.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Deals

Best Prime Day 4K TV deals: What to expect from Amazon in 2019

You don't have to wait until Black Friday to score a fantastic deal on a 4K TV ⁠— Amazon's Prime Day is right around the corner, and with it we're expecting to see discounts on televisions from the likes of Samsung and Vizio.
Deals

The best 4K smart TV deals for June 2019: Samsung, LG, and Vizio

A good 4K smart TV is the only way to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. If you're looking to take your home entertainment to the next level, then we've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek forms, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (June 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.