US lawmakers demand Jeff Bezos testify over Amazon’s ‘possibly criminally false’ statements | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers investigating Amazon for possible antitrust violations have demanded that Jeff Bezos testify before Congress to address statements by the company that “appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious”.
“Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary,” seven leaders of the House judiciary committee, including the chair Jerry Nadler, wrote in a letter to the Amazon CEO on Friday.
Representative David Cicilline, the chair of the House’s antitrust subcommittee who has been leading investigations into the major internet platforms, further stated on Twitter that he is considering a referral to prosecutors.

“As CEO and founder of the company, [Jeff Bezos] must be accountable for Amazon’s record of dishonesty before Congress,” he tweeted. “In light of the gravity of this situation, I am also considering whether a perjury referral is warranted.”
While Amazon had already been a subject of the antitrust subcommittee’s investigation, pressure on the company increased following the publication of a Wall Street Journal investigation into the company’s use of data to compete with sellers on its marketplace.
Amazon was launched as an e-commerce site where customers could buy products directly from Amazon itself, but in 2000 it began allowing third-party retailers to sell goods through the site as well. The move to running a “marketplace” allowed Amazon to increase the range of products offered on its site, while giving sellers access to Amazon’s vast customer base.
In 2019, Bezos told shareholders that third-party sellers accounted for more than half (58%) of the physical gross merchandise sold on Amazon.
But the situation caused unease among antitrust campaigners and advocates for fair competition, especially as Amazon moved more aggressively into selling private label goods that compete directly with marketplace sellers. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a fierce critic of the company, has compared Amazon’s position with regard to the marketplace as akin to being “both the umpire and a player in the game”.
In July 2019, Nate Sutton, the associate general counsel for Amazon, provided sworn testimony to congress that Amazon does “not use any seller data to compete with” third-party sellers or to inform decisions about launching its private label brands.
But more than 20 former employees of the company’s private label brands told the Wall Street Journal that it was “standard operating practice” for Amazon employees use data about individual sellers to inform decisions about their own products.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has previously denied misleading Congress and has said that it is investigating the “serious allegations of employee misconduct” described in the Journal’s report.

Amazon Policy (@amazon_policy)
.@RepJerryNadler Respectfully, suggestions we misled Congress are unfounded. We’ve been clear w/ the Committee that Amazon prohibits use of individual sellers’ data as WSJ alleged. As w/ any serious allegation of employee misconduct, we are investigating. https://t.co/umZ7IC6twz https://t.co/ES3XA7SwsY pic.twitter.com/R43YksTPYQ
April 24, 2020

“Amazon often acts as though it’s above the law,” said Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Today, the House judiciary committee firmly demonstrated that it’s not.”
Mitchell also testified before the House committee, at the same hearing in which Sutton made his disputed statement.
“Amazon doesn’t just dominate markets,” she said at the time. “Through its control of essential infrastructure, it has assumed governing authority over a growing share of our commerce … Amazon has the power to regulate, tax, and punish Americans engaged in trade … To restore competition and safeguard our liberty, we need to both restructure and regulate Amazon.”

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Amazon’s ad revenue defies coronavirus crunch with 40% boost to $3.9bn- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Many ad companies and traditional media owners are braced for painful contractions as coronavirus brings marketing spend to a halt. However, Amazon’s ad business has emerged as a bright spot in the company’s Q1 financial update despite belt-tightening from brands in other areas.
The e-commerce giant disclosed on Thursday (30 April) that its ‘other’ division (which chiefly comprises revenues from its advertising arm) had seen a gain of 44% over the past three months to reach $3.9bn. Though Amazon doesn’t break out its ad revenue figures, chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky told investors that the Q1 ad growth rate was in line with Q4 2019, when he disclosed that it grew at a 40% clip.
The trajectory outstripped the growth of its more established offerings like online sales (24%), subscription services (28%) and Amazon Web Services (33%).
Overall, Amazon’s total earnings for the first three months of the year showed the retailer to have been an early winner of the global pandemic. The behemoth pulled in the equivalent of $33m an hour, with revenues clocking in at $75.4 bn between January and March.
Amazon’s Q1 profit was $2.5bn, down from $3.6bn on the same period last year, and Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos cautioned that this would dip further in light of Covid-19-related spend.
Bezos cautioned that despite soaring revenues, shareholders should “take a seat” because the company planned to spend $4bn or more in the next three months on coronavirus-related expenses – such as getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.
“This includes investments in personal protective equipment (PPE), enhanced cleaning of our facilities, less efficient process paths that better allow for effective social distancing, higher wages for hourly teams, and hundreds of millions to develop our own Covid-19 testing capabilities,” he explained.
This $4bn spend from Bezos will be equal to Amazon’s entire profit for Q2, a reality which caused Amazon’s shares to plummet immediately after.
Amazon’s director of investor relations Dave Files said it had seen “some impact” from advertisers belt-tightening as a result of Covid-19.
“In March, [we saw] some pullback from advertisers and some downward pressure on price, but how but advertising continues to advertise at a high cliff,” he said.
“It wasn’t as noticeable maybe as with what some others are seeing, and it’s probably offset a bit by the continued strong traffic we have to the site. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. We have again, as I said, downward pressure a bit on pricing.
He also noted that a “large portion” of the firm’s advertising related to Amazon sales, “not [to] things like travel and auto” – sectors which have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus.
“Our advertising will prove to be very efficient as well,” he assured investors. “And it can be directly measured. So even as people are cutting back perhaps on advertising, or are their costs, I think this will be one area that will prove its value. It has in the past.”
Amazon’s boom in business comes as platforms and media owners look for ways to stave off the impact of coronavirus on their ad revenues.
For its part, Facebook posted a rise in revenue and profit in the first quarter of 2020, but cautioned its advertising business could be impacted by the ongoing situation.
In the UK, broadcasters like Channel 4 and ITV have predicted their ad sales could decline by as much as 50%.
Advertisers have had mixed responses, with Coca-Cola putting the brakes on all marketing spend while P&G has pledged to ramp up its investment.
The most recent Bellwether report from the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) revealed that UK ad spend had hit its lowest ebb since the 2009 financial crash.

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Upload review – Amazon’s afterlife comedy is the less good place | Television & radio – Blog – 10 minute

TV has reached its maximum capacity of quirky afterlifes. The Good Place set this recent wave in motion on NBC with its vision of Hell as a metaphysical bureaucracy plastering a cheery expression over its endless labyrinth of paperwork and intra-departmental conflicts. TBS’ Miracle Workers cranked the whimsy up a notch for the rom-com angle, as two low-level angels invisibly nudged a pair of shy mortals together. Amazon’s Forever went the existential route, confronting a married couple stuck in a rut with the horror of continuing all their daily drudgeries after death in a suburb identical to their own. In each case, the series generated comedy by offering a banal solution to the grand mystery of what happens after we shuffle off this mortal coil. Who knew heaven would be so devastatingly similar to a place on earth.

Upload, Amazon’s new extension of this trending posthumousness, puts a slant on the material by envisioning the great beyond as a real and existent thing. In the latest series from TV veteran Greg Daniels (longtime Simpsons staffer, co-creator of King of the Hill, the US Office, Parks and Recreation, the list goes on), tech wizards have devised a network of virtual resorts into which a dying person’s consciousness can be imported at the moment of their passing. Paradise, as such, waits not for the pure of heart but for the plump of wallet. Those leaving behind sizable estates or families willing to pay can retire to the tony campus of Lakeview, where residents enjoy plush hotel rooms and lavish buffets three times a day. Those unable to spring for the entry fee and the unlimited data required to maintain the lifestyle – er, deathstyle – may opt in to a 2GB plan, which amounts to a stay in prison. Why anyone would find that preferable to dying the old-fashioned way remains unclear, but all the same, it’s the final culmination of a cruel capitalist ethic: even the alleged great equalizer favors the rich.

For all its overtures against the overclass, the writing largely defaults to the soft surrealism of The Good Place, and likewise attempts to pass off its non-sequitur oddness as humor. Computer glitches do the work of discombobulation here, at one point going on the fritz and turning everyone into a blocky Minecraft version of themselves. Daniels even comes up with his own inflection on The Good Place’s omnipotent AI program Janet, an all-purpose redheaded klutz with less personality and depth than his clear inspiration. His absurdity hits the mark most frequently when targeting the indignities of the service industry, a business already founded on arbitrary rules and catch-22s. Lakeview is anything but all-inclusive, running up in-app purchases for snacks despite appetite itself becoming more of a formality. In the sharpest pinprick of all, the virtual breakfast spread vanishes at 10:01 every morning. You can put a stopper in the cycle of life itself, but you cannot have scrambled eggs in the afternoon.
The intricately realized setting needs a story, however, at which point this fertile if familiar premise begins to suffer. Our man is Nathan (Robbie Amell, simply not cut out for the demands of leading a comedy series), having gained admission to Lakeview on the largesse of his spoiled heiress girlfriend (Allegra Edwards). He’s something of an inconsiderate boob upon his arrival, passive and content in his relationship on the grounds of sex and overall hotness. As in The Good Place, his moral reformation will be the primary project of the series, as he’s bettered over the course of the season by his account service rep (Andy Allo). Referred to as an “Angel,” she oversteps her professional boundaries by developing a close emotional bond to Nathan, which of course displaces his girlfriend as love rears its comely head. And in yet another instance of keeping with The Good Place’s example, the dramatic heft of whether two people will act on their mutual crush pales in comparison with its interrogations of the fabric of being.
To further gum up the works, a murder mystery has been thrown in as well. The grim joke of Nathan dying in an automated car crash he can clearly see coming eventually takes on the stink of foul play, leaving Nathan’s family and Angel to investigate. It’s another way to fill time in a series that would do best to adopt the loose vibe of Daniels’ most successful sitcoms, all of which evinced an understanding that the term means “situational comedy.” He’s going for something more involved here, oriented around romance and suspense over minute-by-minute laughs. They both join awkwardly with Daniels’ satirical ambitions, which would also be better served by the classic half-hour ensemble format. He’s got some substantive ideas about inequality, technology, and how one feeds the other, they only need time to be developed. The ten episodes, some longer than thirty minutes and some shorter, hustle us through a linear plot pieced together from used-up components. But this is supposed to be heaven – wouldn’t you rather just hang out?

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Amazon’s foreign websites named in US piracy and counterfeiting report – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Several of Amazon’s foreign websites have been added to the US trade regulator’s “Notorious Markets” report on marketplaces known for counterfeiting and piracy concerns.
The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on Wednesday cited allegations of counterfeit goods sold on the Seattle-based online retailer’s websites in Canada, Germany, France, India and the United Kingdom.
The office is “considering seeking more information regarding e-commerce platforms, including those based in the United States, in future reviews of Notorious Markets,” it added.
Amazon said it strongly disagreed with the report, describing it as a “purely political act” and an example of the administration of President Donald Trump “using the US government to advance a personal vendetta against Amazon.”
Amazon has tangled often with Trump since he became president.
Trump has accused the Washington Post newspaper, owned by Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, of unfair coverage of his administration.
Over the years, the list has included China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao.com, which is owned and operated by Alibaba Group, as well as websites operated out of Indonesia, Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries.
Last year, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, for the second year in a row, urged the USTR to include foreign domains owned and operated by Amazon on the list.
The USTR said it had received complaints that seller information displayed by Amazon was often misleading and allegations it was too easy for anyone to sell on Amazon “because Amazon does not sufficiently vet sellers on its platforms.”
Amazon said it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and employs several thousand employees in an effort to protect against fraud and abuse, adding that more funding and resources are needed for law enforcement.

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Google drops charges on shopping service to counter Amazon’s surging ad sales – Finance- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Google said on Tuesday it would stop charging merchants to place products on its Google Shopping search page as it looks to win e-commerce advertising business from Amazon and other online retailers, just as they are struggling to supply customers with some items due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move is the latest effort by Google to reinvigorate its Shopping service, which has been largely eclipsed by Amazon, where most online shoppers now start searches for products and merchants pay to feature prominently.
Google has up to now charged merchants whose products appear when users click on the Shopping tab on Google’s search engine.
Amazon, which charges merchants only to promote items high on searches but takes a cut of their sales, is increasingly eating into that business.
By adopting a system akin to Amazon’s, Google is hoping more merchants will put their products on its service, which will attract more shoppers and ultimately increase ad revenue as merchants vie to be featured.
“If you work with the ecosystem, there will be monetisation opportunities that come on top of that,” Google’s president of commerce Bill Ready told Reuters in an interview.
The new policy had been in the works for some time, Ready said, but was brought forward as some stores struggle to find buyers because of the virus.
Some merchants said they lost sales during the outbreak when Amazon stopped offering fast shipping on some products so it could prioritize what it called essential items.
Google’s plan will take effect next week in the United States and by the end of the year globally.
The move is a gamble for Google, as it may lead to a short-term loss of advertising revenue and does not guarantee an influx of new customers.
‘Amazon Compete’
Google executives have debated for months how best to push back against Amazon, rejecting the idea of spending billions of dollars to revamp the Google Shopping service, according to previously unreported accounts from 12 current and former high-ranking staff.
Staffers last year explored partnerships with delivery companies to match Amazon’s speedy shipping, but did not get the go-ahead from top executives to strike a deal, one source said.
Amazon has invested heavily in stocking warehouses and delivery drivers at the expense of its gross profit margins, which stand at about 40 cents on every dollar of revenue, according to Refinitiv data.
Google, which has no experience of such a physically intensive delivery operation, balked at a similar type of investment, which would cut its profit margins of about 60 cents per dollar of revenue, three sources said.
“It’s daunting the amount of capital and expertise it would take to run such a business, and even if you’re successful, are you just going to be number two?” said Jon Venverloh, who left Google last summer after 18 years, including some time as a director on Shopping.
Google declined to comment beyond Tuesday’s announcement.
Amazon’s tenfold surge in online ad sales over the last five years to 4 percent of the global market compared to Google’s 32 percent has created what some financial analysts call Google’s greatest-ever threat.
As Google leadership planned 2020 budgets last summer, some managers who oversee ad buying and selling software called for a coordinated plan to beat back Amazon on several fronts.
They used presentations entitled ‘Amazon Compete’ from Google sales chief Philipp Schindler’s strategy team that tracked the online retailer’s growing power, including consumers’ preference for its shopping search tools, three sources said.
The name recalled an effort dubbed ‘Facebook Compete’ that led to big investments when Facebook’s mobile ads business surpassed Google’s several years ago, five sources said. The project succeeded, with new ad formats and algorithms for mobile putting Google back on top.
But Google executives did not feel the same pressure to invest heavily to beat back Amazon, said forner Google ads executive Sreekant Lanka, despite Amazon’s aggressive hiring, acquisitions and sales efforts.
In 2019, Google had its worst sales growth in four years, but still added US$18 billion in ad revenue, compared with an estimated US$4 billion bump for Amazon.com to about US$12 billion.
Google’s steady ad sales growth as more spending moves online has enabled top executives to justify limited investments in shopping, sources said.
Buy on Google
Google also gets a cut of the purchase price when customers use the Buy on Google feature available on some products on Google Shopping, which lets people buy items using a credit card on file with Google without leaving the search engine.
Merchants benefit because shoppers are more likely to buy the fewer clicks they have to make. Google gets a cut of sales and details on consumer purchases for ad targeting, while still avoiding fulfillment.
But some stores are not sold. Jeff Cayley, CEO of bicycle retailer Worldwide Cyclery, said he pays Google on average 11 percent of sales for search ads taking shoppers to his website, compared with 15 percent when they purchase through Buy on Google.
“It seems like a way (for Google) to dabble in marketplaces, but it’s an uphill battle and a confusing experience for consumers,” Cayley said.
Google signed up about 4000 merchants for Buy on Google by the end of the last year, behind its targets despite temporarily discounting its cut on product purchases by about 20 percent, according to two of the sources.
While top executives last year initially prioritised big subsidies to attract shoppers, they later backtracked and even froze hiring in some areas to cut costs, according to three sources.
Last month, Google again suspended promotions and marketing plans because of concerns related to the new coronavirus.
Ben Frederick said he listed his Dr Frederick’s Original foot-health products through Buy on Google in mid-March when Amazon’s delivery times lengthened.
But he said just three Google orders had trickled in by last week.

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$10,000 a second? Amazon’s results could be amazing | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

Amazon will tell the world this week just how much money it has made from the “unprecedented demand shift” to its site from millions of people under lockdown conditions around the world.
The retailer, which is run by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, will release its sales and profit figures for the first three months of the year (including the first few weeks of the lockdown in the UK and much of Europe and the US) on Thursday.
Analysts forecast Amazon to report first-quarter revenues of $73bn (£58bn). That would be up nearly 22% on the same quarter last year, and works out as sales of $10,000 every second, day and night.
Sales at Amazon had already been increasing, but analysts at Bank of America say the lockdown has fuelled an “unprecedented demand shift” to online sellers.
While most businesses have been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic and the looming recession, shares in Amazon have risen to a record high as hundreds of millions of people stuck indoors turn to the delivery giant to keep them fed and entertained.
Josh Brown, chief executive of Ritholtz Wealth Management, said: “Amazon became a utility in this crisis – defensive, reliable, indispensable.”
Analysts at the US investment bank Cowen likened the impact of the lockdown to the Black Friday shopping frenzy in November, or Amazon’s own Prime Day sale in July. “Amazon has seen an ‘enormous increase in demand’ as shoppers are forced to stay home, essentially creating an extended Prime Day/Black Friday type of situation,” they wrote.
Amazon’s share price is up 42% in the past month, hitting a record high above $2,400 last week. One month ago they were changing hands at $1,689.
At these prices the business is valued at $1.2tn, making it the third biggest US company after Microsoft ($1.35tn) and Apple ($1.25tn).
The soaring share price has added to Bezos’s already massive fortune. The man who started Amazon in his garage in 1994 and still owns 11% of the company’s shares saw his paper fortune swell by $13bn this week alone to $145bn. He is now worth $40bn more than the second-richest person, Bill Gates, and holds almost double the wealth of third-placed Warren Buffett.

Amazon will remain one of the most important businesses during this crisis

Joshua Warner, IG Index

Bezos, who has donated $100m (£80m) to the food bank charity Feeding America, has told staff he is concentrating on developing testing that should help Amazon staff keep working. In his annual letter to shareholders on Thursday, Bezos said Amazon had assembled a team of scientists and software engineers to build internal testing capacity, and hoped to build its own testing laboratory soon.
“Regular testing on a global scale, across all industries, would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running. For this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available,” he said.
Amazon is also rapidly hiring staff to keep up with demand from shoppers. The company said on Monday it was hiring an extra 75,000 staff to help it to process the increase in orders. Those new recruits come on top of 100,000 taken on already since the coronavirus crisis hit western economies last month. The additional workers will take Amazon’s global workforce to nearly 1 million.
Joshua Warner, an analyst at the London-based online trading firm IG Index, said: “Amazon shines from all angles during the coronavirus crisis. Ultimately, Amazon will remain one of the most important businesses during this crisis, providing key services including food, entertainment and shopping at a time when consumers have fewer retailers to choose from.
“Amazon stock has rocketed to a new record high,” he added. “Of all the firms that might stand to benefit, Amazon is a clear winner.”

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Tata Capital’s Voice Bot now available on Amazon’s Alexa- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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TIA, Tata Capital’s VoiceBot is now available on Amazon’s Alexa through its Echo device Series. By following a simple one-time account linking process on Alexa, customers can access a host of services through voice commands.
TIA on Alexa will provide a whole new voice assisted experience to Tata Capital’s customers, who can now access loan statements, welcome letters, amortization schedules and Final IT certificates. With a simple command, customers can also receive email statements and other documents instantly to their email id.
Tata Capital’s latest voice service can be accessed with 3simple steps:

Step 1: Go the Alexa Skill Store and type TIA and select Enable
Step 2: Set up One- time Authentication using User ID and password

Step 3: Set up a Voice PIN and start accessing TIA on Alexa services

With customers with more than one account, there is an option to create a default account preference.
Speaking about Alexa offering, Abonty Banerjee, Chief of Digital and Marketing, Tata Capital says, “Conversational devices provide us an opportunity to enhance our digital service offerings to our customers. As voice assisted devices gain momentum in India, customers are ready to use such platforms for all their needs including for customer service. Our endeavour is to make our services available across multiple channels and platforms and give the customer options to choose the one he/she prefers. “
Tata Capital’s customers can currently be serviced by logging on to the Tata Capital website, Mobile Apps, TIA (the chat and voice bot) and now on Alexa as well. In today’s rapidly digitized environment when financial services and customer choices are becoming more competitive by the day, offering services on a popular platform like Amazon Alexa is a step forward for the company in enhancingthe standards for service delivery.

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Amazon’s summer ‘Prime Day’ promotion most likely to be delayed- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Amazon.com Inc will delay its July “Prime Day” sales event at least until August, according to a report from Reuters.
The promotion began in 2015 as a way to drum up business during the summer when many people are on vacation and to entice customers to subscribe to Prime before the busy holiday shopping season. Amazon Prime members, who pay monthly or yearly fees for shipping discounts and other perks, spend more on the site than regular shoppers.
The company could also lose as much as $100 million on surplus devices it may have to sell at a discount, the news service said, citing internal documents.
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Amazon’s ‘Polly Brand Voice’ heralds a new era of accessibility, but there’s still a way to go- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Amazon Polly is a text-to-speech (TTS) service which allows you to create speech from text to be used in your Alexa Skill, website or app.
As an addition to this existing service, Amazon recently announced Polly Brand Voices, a new functionality which gives brands the ability to create a custom voice specific to their brand rather than using one of the standard voices from Amazon.

Alongside the launch announcement, Amazon included two examples of brands that have already created Polly Brand Voices: KFC Canada and Tempemail Australia bank.
Brands using the standard Polly voice have a range of voices to pick from, for example in British English there is Brian, Amy and Emma. It is easy to switch between these voices to give some customisation to your voice experience. However, the amount of personalisation is limited, which is why Polly Brand Voices is so interesting.
KFC Canada
The KFC Canada use case is a perfect example of the power of having a custom text-to-speech voice. They recreated the voice of their founder Colonel Sanders to be used in a new Alexa Skill which allows you to reorder food.

Colonel Sanders has been the face and voice of the brand for years so it makes sense to bring that familiarity to a voice experience where there tends to be no visual connection.
KFC has used various actors to portray Colonel Sanders who passed away in 1980, being able to “digitise” and create a replica voice will now enable KFC Canada to produce dynamic spoken content across multiple platforms.
Consistency is key to drive recognition
As with traditional audio branding such as sonic logos, consistency will be key to getting the best out of a custom Polly voice. This can be achieved in two ways, firstly by using the Polly voice in all applicable locations, from voice app, to phone systems, to point of sale, to audio ads.
The second is by ensuring the same tone of voice is applied consistently. In the same way that any use of visual assets has to be signed off by the brand team, the use of the Polly voice should also be subject to the same checks. For example it might be the case with KFC that the new Polly Voice should always say “Kentucky Fried Chicken” rather than KFC. Getting this consistency ensures that it not only sounds consistent but it also “sounds like something the Colonel would say”.
Potential use cases for brand voices include

Alexa Skills – Allowing a custom voice to be used rather than a standard voice or having to pre-record all speech
Audio content on website (great for accessibility) – text can be sent to the AWS service and then read out to the user
Dynamic advertising creation (chaning price points, hyper locationsation of audio adverts) – Audio ads can be created in bulk with all variations or dynamic pricing. Much quicker than having to record in a studio with a voice over artist
Phone systems – automated customer service or ordering services – Simple functions can be completed with voice assistants deployed over phone lines, changing of address, checking balances etc.
POS – your order is read out to you – Checkout tills, vending machines could all use the custom created voice

What’s the impact for voiceover artists?
Many brands currently use voiceover artists in their Alexa skill or other audio content. Brands may use a range of voice over artists or pick one particular artist to become the voice of their brand.
We’ve heard in the press about how automation and AI will take over people’s jobs. This is an exact example of how someone’s job could be taken by a voiceover artist.
For those brands who have an existing celebrity/voiceover artist they will have paid for that person’s time to record audio and most importantly, for the brand to be associated with that person.
So what could happen in the future if the brand decides to stop paying said celebrity for their voiceover on adverts/skills and create a digital Polly version? Does the actor continue to be paid?
The film industry has already had questions posed with the digital recreation of actors, the most high profile case being Carrie Fisher in Star Wars.
How do Polly voices compare with voiceover artists?
Anyone with a sharp eye will have noticed that in Star Wars the digital Carrie Fisher wasn’t 100% the same as real Carrie Fisher despite all the advancements with modern animation technology.
The same can be said for Polly. It’s good, but there is still something that’s missing which means you can tell that it’s not a real human.
In animation, they often say you can tell in two areas; the eyes and the mouth. With Polly, there are certain words which don’t quite land which gives the illusion away.
In conclusion, this was a fairly unsurprising move by Amazon. It will be interesting to see if Google follows suit and which brands decide to invest in a custom Polly Brand Voice.
John Campbell, founder at Rabbit & Pork.

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Amazon’s Bezos pledges US$10bn to climate change fight – Finance – Cloud- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos will commit US$10 billion to fund scientists, activists, nonprofits and other groups fighting to protect the environment and counter the effects of climate change, he said on Monday.
Cutting emissions will be challenging for Amazon. The e-commerce company delivers 10 billion items a year, has a massive transportation and data center footprint, and has faced criticism from within its own workforce.
Bezos, the world’s richest man, is among a growing list of billionaires to dedicate substantial funds to battling the impact of global warming.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” Bezos said in an Instagram post. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.”
The Bezos Earth Fund will begin issuing grants this summer as part of the initiative.
“It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals,” Bezos said.
Counteracting climate change has become a popular cause for US billionaires in recent years, with Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer counted among the world’s wealthiest environmental philanthropists. ⁣⁣⁣ Last year, Bezos pledged to make online retailer Amazon net carbon neutral by 2040 – the first major corporation to announce such a goal – and to buy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from US vehicle design and manufacturing startup Rivian Automotive LLC.
Bezos also said at the time that Amazon would meet the goals of the Paris climate accord 10 years ahead of the accord’s schedule and invest US$100 million to restore forests and wetlands.
Amazon has faced protests by environmental activists and pressure from its employees to take action on climate change.
Amazon workers were among hundreds of employees of big technology companies to join climate-change marches in San Francisco and Seattle late last year, saying their employers had been too slow to tackle global warming and needed to take more drastic action.
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, an activist workers group, welcomed the Bezos Earth Fund announcement, but said it did not make up for the company’s consumption of fossil fuels and other activities that contribute to climate change.
“We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” the group said on Twitter.

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