Discover the latest resources on monetization and building high-quality skills with Mark Yoshitake, director of the Alexa Skills Kit

Jeff Blankenburg Dec 05, 2022
Alexa Skills

From new monetization opportunities to comprehensive learning resources, the world of Alexa is moving fast.

To dive deeper into the latest innovations, Alexa Chief Tech Evangelist Jeff Blankenburg caught up with Mark Yoshitake, Director of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). The ASK team is responsible for launching products and features that enable developers to build high quality skills and drive business growth.

Here are some of the top ways to boost skills and generate new revenue, directly from the source.

Drive engagement with the Alexa Routines Kit

Alexa Routines makes users’ lives easier by grouping together actions. These sequences can be triggered by either a single utterance or ambient events, like arriving home from work or dismissing an Alexa alarm. It pays off for developers to create a streamlined experience. In fact, Routines users have four times the engagement and 40% higher retention compared to non-routines users. 

The Alexa Routines Kit (ARK), which was announced at Alexa Live 2022, lets you utilize pre-built routines and offer them right from your skill.

“This really opens up all sorts of ways to boost engagement,” said Yoshitake. “For customers, enabling routines used to be difficult—sometimes it required several steps or navigating different apps. With pre-built routines, however, we’ve already seen significantly more engagement because end customers start them by simply saying ‘yes’.”

Brands across the world are using the Alexa Routines Kit to drive engagement with developers. For example, NPR and All India Radio use ARK to create a cohesive morning experience that plays the news and tells listeners about the weather. Other businesses leverage routines to create groundbreaking ambient experiences that help users relax, fall asleep, or promote general wellness throughout the day.

“ARK gives users a shortcut. Pre-built routines are much easier to discover in a real-time skill session,” noted Yoshitake.

Learn more about ARK here

Make your skill an engine of product discovery and generate new revenue

When it comes to earning through your Alexa skill, there’s usually not a one-size-fits-all solution. So how can you answer those lingering questions about how much to charge and when to switch up offers?

As Yoshitake outlined, it comes down to baking experimentation into your monetization process. Here are a few tools to do just that.

Alexa Skill Deals is used to set up discounts on in-skill purchases and paid skills. These attract sales through limited-time offers and spotlight premium content. “Implementing skill deals is a win-win for everyone—developers can tell whether they’re charging too much and make the necessary changes, while end customers benefit from the reduced price and seamless shopping experience,” said Yoshitake.

There’s also the Alexa Shopping Kit, a comprehensive set of features that allows skill builders to embed shopping experiences within their skill. 

“We designed this capability so end customers can discover, research, and purchase relevant products from a single place: your skill. Customers can either ‘add to cart’ or ‘buy immediately’ without interrupting the session,” said Yoshitake. 

Another powerful tool for skill builders is Amazon Associates. This program lets you place recommendations for relevant products in your skill while earning up to 10% in commission for purchases of qualifying goods. And with built-in analytics through a central dashboard, there’s less guesswork involved in deciding what products to highlight in your skill. Integrating A/B testing and tweaking into your process is more straightforward than ever.

Build high-quality skills with expert recommendations and community education resources

“Our sole mission is taking your skills to the next level,” says Yoshitake. This is why Alexa launched their recent initiatives: The Skill Developer Accelerator Program (SDAP) and the Alexa Learning Lab. 

SDAP includes a suite of developer benefits to uplevel skills and incentivizes building great experiences.

  • The Skill Quality Coach (SQC) provides skills with a score from 0-5 that encompasses criteria such as content richness, voice model coverage, and endpoint health. Rather than overwhelming developers with raw data, though, the SQC delivers personalized recommendations to drive improvements. Through SDAP, developers will receive quality incentives for achieving high skill quality scores. 

“The model works backward to evaluate what makes a successful skill,” said Yoshitake. “After reviewing hundreds of thousands of skills and hundreds of attributes, we bubble up what correlates most. It’s not based only on skills with a huge volume of monthly active users—it considers what actions were taken to get there.” 

  • Beyond the quality-based incentives, we have also introduced an increased revenue-sharing model. Developers earning less than $1MM in aggregate annual revenue from In-Skill Purchasing (ISP), Subscriptions, and Paid Skills will now receive a revenue share of 80%. These developers will also get 10% of their skills’ earnings as an additional value-back incentive, paid in cash. 

For developers looking to add a new dimension and advanced features to skills, there’s also Alexa Learning Lab. Workshops in Alexa Learning Lab give you the background and practical experience needed to expand your voice toolkit, including the opportunity to write code and receive real-time feedback.

“We decided to focus our first course on Alexa Presentation Language because it can be an especially complex area. We want to de-mystify it and give everyone the power to add visuals to voice experiences” said Yoshitake. 

“APL is a huge framework, but Alexa Learning Lab gives you a training course that walks through every step and how each component works together. Not only do you get to see the ‘how’ and the ‘why, but you also get code assessments as you work through,” added Blankenburg. 

Looking ahead, Alexa Learning Lab will offer courses on a wide variety of voice development frameworks. 

Watch the full interview on demand to learn how you can take advantage of everything in the Alexa Skills Kit.

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