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Voice-first technology is changing how consumers and businesses search for things they need. It’s become more common to use the technology with mobile devices. Plus, with the advent of more virtual assistants like Alexa/Echo as well as Google and Apple’s voice-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices, more marketers are realizing why they need to consider how they might use this technology in their marketing and advertising efforts.
Voice Assisted Searches On the Rise
Let’s start with some statistics to illustrate how voice is changing consumer behavior. According to a recent Bright Local survey, 58% of consumers surveyed have used voice search to find local business information during the last 12 months. Consumers also want to be able to use voice search to do certain things. These include making reservations, getting prices on products and services, and confirming if a business has a particular item in stock.
According to statistics collected by Search Engine People, 20% of mobile searches on Google are done using voice. Other statistics find that half of U.S. smartphone users put voice assistants to work on a weekly basis. Also, 60.5 million people in the U.S. are already using digital assistants like Alexa to conduct searches and place orders. And, 87% of B2C marketers surveyed think virtual assistants and chat robots will play an integral role in consumer interaction by 2021.
To learn more about how voice technology could shape advertising in the coming years, Mike Dougherty, CEO of Jelli, and Jennifer Hungerbuhler, EVP and managing director, local video and audio investment, at Dentsu Aegis Network, shared their thought leadership on the topic.
Why Voice Will Disrupt Advertising
Dougherty sees voice as the next major disruptor in advertising. The reason it is so promising is that it feels natural to people. That’s because it emulates how we already communicate as humans.
As he explained
Since voice flattens menus, it will make daily tasks far easier to complete. It will completely transform UI and open up opportunities for marketers and brands to get creative and interact with customers in new ways. Voice will surely shape consumption patterns, consumer behavior and future tech for years to come.”
Therefore, marketers need to pay attention. As Dougherty further noted, “The goal of any marketer is to establish a genuine connection with customers. Voice is their chance to get one step closer.”
Specific Voice-First Technology Applications for Advertising and Media
And, Hungerbuhler agrees. Her take is that voice is going to be very important in the marketing, advertising and media ecosystem. For example, gesture and conversational user experiences will continue to develop. They will be applied across a range of platforms and devices.
As we saw at CES this year, almost every new device shown had an Alexa and/or Google Assistant capability. Audio search, particularly at-home search, will continue to grow in importance. Therefore, advertisers will need to get better at understanding how consumers want to find them in voice, the language they will use to do so, and how they can get onto a shopping list.”
Present and Future Observations About Voice Searches
Despite the growing popularity of voice-assisted search, Hungerbuhler noted that not many consumers use voice on their mobile devices. Her company’s perspective is that some people may feel embarrassed using their mobile device voice capabilities while they’re in public.
However, eventually, voice technology will become a utility. Therefore, brands need to make sure they provide instrumental value through voice technology consumer touchpoints. For example, pairing voice with visual platforms, such as smart displays, will help elevate usage. Additionally, this will provide a stickier voice experience.
Hungerbuhler also predicted that brand exposure will largely be based on past behaviors. “For the most part, AI algorithms use data from previous consumer/user engagement. Predictive models will become the future. Therefore, it will be important to ensure a brand stands out and gets onto a shopping list built through voice technology.”
Andy Franco, the founder of Facebook advertising agency Live Surge, says all advertising methods follow this pattern of resistance before they become adopted by the mainstream. “Just like search has become second nature to people who used to use card catalogs, voice is likely to be well used by those who are multitasking and need hands-free tools,” Franco explains.
Responding to the Challenges Ahead
However, it won’t all be sunshine and roses. Dougherty stated that this new paradigm requires a shift in approach and thinking. For example, content will need to be useful and gratifying. Also, the content should encourage discovery to get people engaged. But, the most critical piece to the challenge of using voice for advertising will be the tone. That’s because of the emotional reaction audio evokes.
Hungerbuhler sees a change in her company’s client behavior that highlights some of the challenges with voice. “Some clients are jumping in for creative testing. However, there is a barrier to finding skills. Therefore, it can be a campaign drain to advertise a skill and how to use it and then use that skill to sell a product/brand experience. In order to show true value for clients, the skill discovery process needs to evolve.”
Yet, brands and agencies alike seem willing to address these challenges given the opportunities and growth potential voice technology brings to advertising.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.