Voice-Activated Ads Are Hear -- Er, Here

Move over, third-screen advertising. Fourth-screen advertising exists in the form of voice-activated ads.

According to Jupiter Research, approximately 8 billion digital voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, will be in use by 2023, a solid increase from the 2.5 billion assistants used in 2018.

These major players are removing ad clutter by asking consumers their likes and dislikes — creating direct-FROM-consumer marketing.

Streaming heavyweights and newbies alike have taken note and added voice-activated ads to their arsenal. Let’s have a look at how brands are interacting with consumers with voice-commanded ads.

Pandora: Following the launch of its hands-free Voice Mode mobile assistant in the summer of 2019, Pandora has scripted and tested creative ads for brands like Nestle, Doritos, Wendy’s, Unilever, Comcast and Turner Broadcasting, to be played in between songs. This proof of concept highlighted the benefits of hands-free, voice-activated ad content that engaged listeners who when they were supposedly unreachable.



To engage with an ad, a user simply needed to say “yes” to hear additional content. Advertisers have mere seconds to pique a listener’s interest to continue with the ad. If the user doesn’t reply or says “no,” the music will resume.

For example, in an ad for Hellmann’s mayonnaise, users are asked if they want to upgrade their grilled cheese sandwich game. Saying “yes” after a beep prompted the ad to continue and let consumers learn that adding mayo to the outside of bread before grilling will result in a crispier grilled cheese sandwich.

DiGiorno’s pizza told a joke in its Pandora ad — but to hear the punchline, listeners had to say “yes.”

“Can you hear me now” has become “Can we tell you more — please?”

Spotify: The streaming music company is testing voice-interactive ads that promote content on its app. Follow the rabbit hole to find your next ear worm.

Per TechCrunch, Spotify’s first voice-enabled ad brought listeners to “Stay Free: The Story of the Clash,” a Spotify Original podcast. Another ad, for Unilever’s Axe, promoted a branded playlist.

When prompted by an ad, the user must say “play now” to be directed to the podcast or playlist. If the user says anything else, or nothing at all, the internal mic will turn off and the ad will end. While testing the format, the ads will only be distributed to listeners using the free mobile version of the app. Listeners can opt out of voice-enabled ads in settings.

Peacock, NBCU’s streaming service, doesn’t bow until April, but the company has released its ad strategy and inaugural clients, including Eli Lilly and Company, Target, State Farm and Unilever.

Peacock plans to make its commercials more engaging and audience-friendly using ads that solicit viewer engagement via trivia or product galleries, and on-command ads that use Comcast Xfinity voice technology to allow viewers to speak into their remote to interact with ads.

Today’s youth experience near constant stimulation — there is so much to consume it can be overwhelming. The voice-activated ad space may be very well-poised to reach Gen Z and Millennial consumers, since they are giving the consumer so much control and will be heard when the consumer is most receptive and engaged.  

What’s your take on voice-activated ads? Let me know in the comments section.

1 comment about "Voice-Activated Ads Are Hear -- Er, Here".
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  1. Mike Gunderson from Respond Fast, May 11, 2020 at 1:03 p.m.

    This is great! I love seeing growth and adoption in this area. We also created a new platform that leverages voice tech called, it is similar to the technology mentioned in this article, but is media agnostic, meaning, it can be used as a Voice Activated Call to Action with any offline media, not just a media platform like Pandora or Spotify.

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