Understanding the Opportunities Voice Presents for Brands

By Audio InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Understanding the Opportunities Voice Presents for Brands

In its forthcoming study, Publicis Media took a more human approach to understanding the opportunities that voice presents for brands and marketers.  While still an emerging sector for marketers, the study identified both some opportunities for brand engagement that are unique to voice and the implications of the results.

This deep-dive was comprised of a four-month long study of 70 highly engaged voice assistant users in the U.S. and U.K., with the goal of understanding attitudes and personal experiences.  It further combined biometric tests on 152 participants to quantify the brand impact and body response of voice versus visual experiences, and used Quid's Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithmic analysis of 20,000+ reviews of smart speakers to identify usage and attitudinal themes.  Here is a sneak peek at six key things to know about the voice user experience:

Brands: Promising Opportunity with Some Hurdles

1.  New Entrant Packs a Memory Punch

Only two years in and smart speakers already boost unaided brand recall by 2X compared with TV advertising, and are on par with the well-established medium of native mobile.  The hands-free benefit of smart speakers increases the value of contextual information about brands by stimulating a real-time connection that heightens relevance and memory -- e.g. problem-solving stains while doing the laundry.  Voice interactions also excel in the actual enjoyment and utility of the brand experience vs TV and native mobile.  But a key thing brands need to watch out for is that most users have extremely low awareness of any brand skills or services on their smart speaker.

Implication:  Dial up context to stimulate in-the-moment category connections.  Set utility and enjoyment goals for content creation.  Build discovery strategies to raise awareness.

2.  Robots Aren't Good Storytellers, Yet.

Storytelling experiences on smart speakers are some of the most surprising and anticipated functionality of these devices.  But due to the current robotic nature of many smart speaker voices and their lack of authentic emotional range, compelling-sounding storytelling is very hard to achieve. Attention and interest wanes quickly with the absence of human narrative cues and becomes a distraction: users get caught up in mechanics -- like tone of voice, lack of emotion and lack of authentic engagement.

Implication:  Over-invest in tone of voice and emotional range to increase human-like interaction and boost usage and positive reviews of brand voice experiences.

Home:  Parents Leading the Way

3.  A Parent's Secret Weapon

Smart speakers are the swiss-army knife of assistants for parents -- providing on-demand parenting solutions, backup and "wins" with less effort (hands free).  They are extending a parent's potential and reach by streamlining the problem-solving process, enabling them to be more responsive and effective in answering the complex demands of children (entertainment, Q&A, household management and homework).  But the presence of AI/robots in the home is also presenting new challenges for parents to navigate with kids -- from manners, to independence to appropriate content.

Implication:  Parents should be a priority audience for voice as needs and product benefits perfectly align.  Develop content that spans the range of parenting experiences.

4.  Family Bonds in the Making

Smart speakers are creating a new family glue through shared sense of ownership and as a home hub at the center of family life and moments.  This common ground is creating new shared moments, traditions and conversations that are more revealing and relatable -- e.g. impromptu dance parties, playing Jeopardy at dinner and voice-enhanced homework interactions.  Smart speakers are fostering a greater appreciation for a present state of mind where users still have the benefit of digital interaction without the downside of the screen.

Implication:  Capitalize on the growing desire for less reliance on screens and facilitate shared moments via the smart speaker.

Car:  Smart Speakers Setting Expectations for a Smarter Car

5.  Drive-Time Unlocked

Voice is unlocking a new freedom to multi-task inside the car, turning what has previously been downtime into productive uptime.  Increasingly stringent laws and a growing awareness of car safety have accelerated people's interest in improved voice functionality.  In fact, touching any device while in the car has become the new social stigma akin to drinking and driving.  But mistakes in voice recognition while driving carry a high irritation factor as there is less room for glitches in the car where accurate information delivery is more pressing.

Implication:  Especially in the car, reducing complication is paramount -- keeping it simple and making sure your voice experience works without touching a screen.

6.  Reinventing the Road Trip

We challenged users to hack their Alexa dots into their cars.  This prompted drivers to reinvent their entertainment experience on the road.  Users were spontaneously researching points of interest along the way, playing trivia, exploring new music options and listening to inspirational speakers together, particularly on longer trips and commutes.  Because it's become common practice for people to individually entertain themselves on mobile phones/tablets in the car, these experiences were a welcome change and a way to break out of the isolating communication norm.

Implication:  Partner with car-makers, tech innovations and entertainment brands to explore how to make road trips fun for the whole car.

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