The emerging popularity voice assistants — Some 21% of American households now own a smart speaker according to eMarketer —represents an array of opportunities for advertisers which Publicis Media has spelled out in a new report.
The agency’s new “Voice” report explores the user experience with voice-assisted devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home in an effort to provide marketers some insights and analysis along with some words of caution for those brands interested in connecting with audiences across these devices.
One major consumer criticism cited in the report is that current voice services lack the ability to go beyond basic information most users already know when using these devices.
“When you invite someone to have a conversation, it is very clear in a voice-led world where your content strategy left off,” states the report.
This means advertisers must understand what factors drive intent for their brand. "Voice-proof your Brand Q&A content by increasing frictionless and conversational qualities," the report surmises. “When consumers desire to go beyond the basics, consider creating content partnerships if resources and ROI limit investment."
Music provides a good entry point for potential advertising opportunities. Nostalgia can be relived in real-time and memories passed on to others in the moment. And since voice has also become a social conversation starter with friends, brands should develop a music strategy that can accompany relevant brand usage occasions in the home.
Publicis Media also recommends increasing investment in streaming services to create integrated experiences for voice users.
Although there are opportunities for brands to interact in cars, such as researching points-of-interest or developing trivia games, it is important to note that voice recognition while driving carries a high irritation factor. There is less room for glitches in the car where accurate and responsive information delivery is more pressing.
This means advertisers must keep it simple and make sure the voice experience works without the need to touch a screen.
"Create partnerships to make road trips fun for the whole car," the report recommends.
As privacy has become a major societal issue, Publicis Media cautions that the newness of these voice platforms is creating some consumer caution about interacting with brands over smart speakers. "Without any established rules of the road many users are filling in the blanks with negative associations from traditional and social advertising where intrusiveness dominates," says the report.
However, once users are exposed to useful or entertaining brand skills/services their perception alters to the more positive side.
In addition, there is a growing tension developing between personalization and privacy. Users expect voice assistants to anticipate their needs and tailor responses based on preferences, yet are reluctant to give up the data that would enable personalization. Users have been clear they want an opt-in approach that doesn’t invade their privacy but is highly personalized, anticipating needs and providing utility.
For now, the report has found, shopping with a smart speaker — even with a screen — is currently not seen as a better way to shop compared to mobile or a computer.
The report’s methodology included spending four months with 70 users in the U.S. and UK. Biometric analytics were based on 152 U.S. participants to quantify brand impact and body response to voice versus visual experiences. Research analyzed over 20,000 reviews of smart speakers online utilizing Quid’s platform to identify usage and attitudinal themes.
More on the report can be found by emailing PMPOV@publicismedia.com.