Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon confirmed they had technology in place to prevent their ads from interacting with devices

The customer complained to advertising watchdogs, claiming the ad was “socially irresponsible” after it triggered their Dot.

The advert, screened last October, featured people using the device in different situations, and a man’s voice said “Alexa, re-order Purina cat food”. 

Virtual assistant Alexa then said: “I’ve found Purina cat food. Would you like to buy it?”

Amazon said they had technology in place to prevent their ads from interacting with the devices of their customers, and that adverts were marked so they did not trigger responses. 

Amazon Echo Dot

The Advertising Standards Agency said that Amazon had not breached the social responsibility code

We acknowledged that Amazon had taken measures to prevent their ads interacting with devices that might ‘overhear’ them

ASA spokesperson

They also confirmed that had the customer not cancelled the order themselves, it would have automatically been stopped by their safeguards.

The Advertising Standards Authority investigated the ad under rules regarding social responsibility, but gave it the all clear.

An ASA spokesperson said: “We acknowledged that Amazon had taken measures to prevent their ads interacting with devices that might ‘overhear’ them. 

“In spite of this, the instruction ‘Alexa, re-order Purina cat food’, as stated in the ad, had caused the complainant’s Echo device to initiate an order for cat food. 

“However, we understood from Amazon that purchases were required to be actively confirmed by the customer before a transaction was undertaken. 

“In this instance, the complainant had cancelled the order themselves, but we understood that had they not done so, the order would nonetheless have been cancelled automatically. 

“Therefore we understood that it would not be possible for a purchase to be made without the account owner’s knowledge, even in instances where technology, intended to stop ads interacting with devices, had not been effective.”

He added: “We concluded that the ad was not socially irresponsible and did not breach the Code.”

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