Alexa, Ask Ring If That’s Somebody at the Front Door Delivering the Insurance Policy You Ordered for Me
2 + 2 = What?
On February 27 The Wall Street Journal ran a great story about product placement on Alexa (apologies if this is behind a paywall). The gist of the article is that when someone asks Alexa to order paper towels or shampoo without specifying a brand, over 50% of the time Alexa’s top recommendation is based on the Amazon Choice algorithm. Amazon describes that algorithm as “. . . a feature that helps Amazon customers save time and effort when searching for common, everyday items and suggests highly-rated, well-priced products with Prime shipping.” Since more and more purchases are going to be made through Alexa, Google Assistant, and similar virtual assistants; consumer products companies are really trying to figure out how they can get (or pay) for virtual shelf space in the smart speaker virtual audio store of the future.
Also on February 27, Amazon bought Ring (for reportedly over $1 billion). Ring sells video doorbells and other home security hardware. Amazon spending $1 billion isn’t quite the same as you or me spending $1 billion—but still it’s a tidy sum.
Let's speculate why Amazon did it.
Ring hardware can give Amazon/Alexa video images of some/most of a home’s exterior. Ring (with a bit of help from AI/ML/machine vision) also creates new sets of data: how often is someone ringing a home’s doorbell, or entering the home’s security cameras’ field of vision, or coming inside the home—and who are these people, and what are they doing?
My blog “Family Intimacy with Alexa—Will Insurers Be Left Out in the Cold?” described how Alexa is becoming much more a part of the family inside the house. The Ring acquisition gives Alexa a role in keeping the family and all its possessions safe and secure by monitoring who is outside the house.
Who else has a role of keeping families and homes safe and secure? How about property/casualty and life insurers. And what could be more natural, after asking Alexa to tell the kids a bedtime story, than asking her to find a good umbrella liability policy, or to recommend a trustworthy life agent.
Maybe insurers should join the consumer goods companies in figuring out how to win the battle for virtual, smart speaker shelf space.