Summits Yellow

It's time for brands to capitalise on voice marketing opportunities on AI assistants

Tyrone Stewart

Advertising Week Europe Voice MarketingWith the introduction of digital assistants over the last few years and the rapid adoption of the technologies, the need to capitalise on voice marketing is growing each day. But getting audio right is tad more difficult than visual content.

Despite these difficulties, voice presents are great opportunity for brands to reach people and engage in a completely new with their audience.

“Growth numbers for voice/AI platforms, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, are actually more impressive than the early growth numbers for mobile,” said Mukul Devichand, executive editor for voice at the BBC, speaking at Advertising Week Europe. “According to the Accenture Digital Consumer Survey 2018, nearly a quarter of all UK consumers are now using digital assistants, 11 per cent of British adults. And up to a quarter of US adults, we think, now have access to smart speakers in the home.

“The opportunity, in theory, is fabulous. An opportunity to connect directly with customers, opening up personalised communication and direct commerce with audiences at incredible scale.”

James Poulter, head of emerging platforms and partnerships at Lego, added: “I’m a pretty big believer that, by 2020, most major consumer and B2B brands will need some sort of audio strategy or voice strategy in place – mainly because it’s becoming the primary access point for many people in the home around content overall.”

Of course, with this opportunity comes far more things for brands to think about, and a couple of those things are deciding what exactly the brand should sound like.

“There’s two components,” said Patrick Givens, head of VaynerSmart at VaynerMedia. “There’s ‘how do you sound?’ and there’s ‘what do you say?’ – maybe more importantly there’s ‘what questions are you prepared to respond to as a brand?’”

Once these decisions have been made, however, there are even more things for brands to consider. Namely, creating a voice experience that works in a similar vain to more established audio channels.

“Developing a brand presence there is much more than just picking a great voice and maybe a good jingle, it’s about the structure of how you make these experiences so that they can be continually reminding you who that experience is coming from. And you have to be willing to interrupt your own content to make sure that people retain some kind of brand equity in the experience,” said Poulter.

“I think a lot of the lessons that we’ve learnt in radio can be carried into the voice space. The key difference is that you don’t usually talk back to the radio and get a response back.”

The challenges faced by marketers in voice extend to the fact that not many yet know the best ways to create audio experiences through digital assistants.

To create the best experiences, brands are going to have to pay attention to their audience and figure out how to harness the power of voice as they go along.

“It also comes down to how well can you track and understand the people that are participating in it,” said Jenna Pelkey, director of digital innovation at General Electric’s (GE) oil services company, Baker Hughes. “You can make the best content in the world, you can have the best audio, you can sort out your voice – which for every brand is probably one of the hardest things in the world to do – and you can create this really profound voice experience, but you have to be able to have a feedback to be able to optimise because this moves so fast.

“People have an attention span of a gnat, not even a fly anymore, so we’ve got a second and a half probably at best to try to get in front of these people and compel them to interact with us through a medium that is just not natural to them yet. So, I think that data feedback is critical.”