Will music streaming bring about the next generation of voice tech?

Mobile Marketing

Jon Buss, managing director at Yext, considers the implication of Amazon’s decision to move into music streaming.

Amazon’s decision to move further into the music streaming industry can certainly be seen as one of its most disruptive recent moves. The announcement itself produced an immediate wobble in the share price of rival streaming business, Spotify.

But getting caught up in how the music streaming world will evolve is just the beginning. The real change Amazon’s move will produce is around voice technology. To date, Alexa has linked with Amazon music and with streaming providers to enable users to use the speaker to listen to music on demand – a function which has become one of the primary uses for Echo devices in the household.

Not only does Bezos’s new music streaming service allow users to request songs directly from its voice assistant, Alexa, it will be the first time Amazon has allowed its users to listen to music for free.
At the centre of it all is voice advertising. Despite Amazon’s new service being entirely ad-funded, 38 per cent of consumers agreed in a recent survey that voice ads are less intrusive than ads on television, in print, online, and on social media.

With the potential to draw millions to the new streaming service, Amazon has created a brand new and potentially highly effective marketing channel that brands can’t ignore. It’s vitally important that brands understand how to cope when the real watershed moment for voice will happen and be ready when it does.

Being ready for voice is no small commitment though. The transformation in digital marketing investment will invoke a tide of brand investment in the functionality of Echo devices, introducing a new realm of competition between brands.

Competitive R&D
The most immediate investment will be in audio adverts themselves. The personal and custom nature of what people listen to via smart speakers allows for a greater level of personalisation and more relevant advertising that comes off as less intrusive and more engaging.

Brands will not only have to be ready to compete with competitors taking up ad space in between streamed music, but also be able to start a congruent path to purchase from the moment a consumer responds to an ad that grabs their attention.

Marketers must anticipate the immediate questions that their ads will create; “How much does it cost?” “Where can I get a demo?” “What are its main features?” In each case, the journey needs to be actionable through Alexa and the correct information at the AI’s digital fingertips.

Mapping a voice-first environment
‘Correct information’ is a point worth lingering on. The need to map all necessary business and product information through a voice-first environment is clear but keeping this up to date and managing information that is added is vital.

Take store opening hours. With Easter just gone and two May bank holidays to look forward to, we’re all familiar with Google’s warnings regarding local business opening hours. It’s crucial that when customers start using voice to ask about the brands they hear advertised, that the business information Alexa provides is accurate.

Voice also poses brands with interesting conundrums when it comes to replicating important parts of the display-based journey. Take ratings and reviews – keeping these up-to-date in audio adverts will require a clear and consistent strategy in its own right.

Bridging touchpoints
To this end, finding effective means to bridge the customer journey between voice and display touchpoints presents the third ingredient in being ready for a voice-first world.

Brands must be able to connect early, voice-based interactions with the rich media content consumers are accustomed to viewing on their mobiles to shore up purchase decisions. Even with the ease voice technology offers, consumers will still look for the expert reviews, unboxing videos and user images that they need to qualify their investment in a new product.

Adapting to the demands of a voice-first world is certainly no overnight change. Nonetheless, Amazon’s latest announcement edges us closer to the watershed moment for voice, promising to transform the utility of Alexa-enabled devices and in turn how they are used.