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Spotify tests voice-enabled ads in the US

The ads can pick up on verbal commands if your mic is enabled.
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If you're a free user on Spotify's streaming music service, you may hear an ad soon that asks you to respond verbally. Spotify has started testing voice-enabled ads on a small number of free subscribers in the US. The voice-enabled ads will only be deployed to users who already have their microphone permissions turned on to use Spotify's voice search feature, the company confirmed to Engadget on Thursday.

Right now, Spotify is testing two separate voice-enabled ads. The first is an ad for a Spotify Original podcast, Stay Free: The Story of the Clash. The second is a Unilever Axe campaign that directs users to a branded playlist. Both ads ask users to respond by saying "Play Now". If the user says something else or doesn't respond, the mic will turn off and the ad break will continue.

As voice-assisted technology becomes more widespread, advertisers are jumping on the bandwagon -- if only to find another way to reach audiences that are sick of looking at their screen. "Consumers are increasingly participating in 'screen detoxes' and as a result, marketers are looking for innovative ways to reach their business goals and engage with audiences," wrote Spotify in a statement.

If you don't wish to hear the voice-enabled ads, it's easy enough to opt-out. Go to Spotify's settings menu and disable "Voice-Enabled Ads." You can also go the extra mile and disable microphone permissions manually on your phone. iPhone users can view which apps have access to their microphones under the "Privacy" section of their "Settings" app. Android users can go to "Settings", tap "Apps and Notifications", select an app, tap "Permissions" and then disable the microphone slider. Currently, Spotify is only testing voice-enabled ads on iOS and Android mobile devices in the US, and there's no word on if or when it'll roll out more widely.

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