In four short months, we’ll come roaring into the new ’20s. No one denies that technology is rewriting the rules for nearly every industry, but what it looks like at the next plateau leaves much room for debate. Today we move toward the conclusion of our series built upon the premise that connected voice means revolution. The mass-market penetration of smart speakers with voice apps will lead the next wave of IoT advancement. It will also tear down and rebuild the world of audio as we know it. There is only one question: What are we supposed to do about it?
If you’re a marketer, you are being put on notice.
It isn’t all that fair, really, because the fundamental rules are changing so frequently—pricing & algorithm changes on major platforms, increasing privacy concerns slowing your ability to target customers, new definitions of corporate responsibility and hopscotching around controversy in pursuit of an increasingly polarized populace. It’s a lot to keep up with and you only have so many hours in a day.
Still, your choice is clear. Either embrace the coming changes in voice or be eaten by them.
Consider this—what we knew of as radio is being systematically uprooted and replaced by smart speakers. This new technology that is invading our homes, cars, and smartphones will usher in immediate opportunities for marketers to evolve the industry in ways unseen in our present age. Here are a few predictions as to what marketing capabilities are around the corner before we get into immediately practical applications for brands.
Well beyond the presets in your dashboard or the dial on your clock radio, smart speakers will allow long chunks of content to be broken up and navigated with voice commands—far beyond what podcast or streaming have allowed so far. For example, imagine a three-hour radio show covering 20 different topics now sliced up and available for you to navigate based on your interest. Speed up or slow down. Skip to the next topic. Seamless navigation and customization of content through audio will reach levels that we are accustomed to experiencing visually online today.
Beyond customized versions of the content you are consuming, connected voice will allow you to go deeper into any content by responding to what you hear. Perhaps you’re listening to your NPR Flash Briefing and want to understand the history of trade relations with China. Your smart speaker will enable you to learn more “like content” from the program provider you are currently listening to or that of others. Consider the implications for marketers. You can now port someone from an advertising message to a full sonic immersion into the brand. Or in the case of devices that include screens, you will be able to explore and navigate visually as well.
Included will be the ability to respond to ads in real-time and engage at a level which marketers have only dreamed.. Tired of promo codes and vanity URLs? How about getting connected to a live agent, or offering the ability to connect with a branded Skill or voice app?
While difficult at this present stage, voice commerce is already possible—as exhibited by 1-800-FLOWERS.com. Purchase products or capture coupons via real-time response. No doubt this functionality will favor products available on Amazon Prime for Alexa users, but the opportunity has nowhere to go but up. Such efforts are an ambitious undertaking but worth considering for e-commerce brands that have already entered the channel. The key here is to remember that if you build it, they may not come. Therefore, an intelligent promotional strategy is required to turn your voice app into a meaningful sound shopping experience. This is so large an issue, it deserves a series of its own. For now, just remember that the work doesn’t stop after building a presence. You MUST promote.
More than ever, marketers will use audio to target audiences based on scale, including targeting and re-targeting customers online using first or third-party data derived from voice apps themselves. We are still a ways away from this being useful or having large enough pools of impressions to warrant slicing into targets and still achieve any meaningful scale. However, this is one to watch closely and strike upon as soon as the time is right. This alone is a revolutionary and huge marketing opportunity.
Responses will soon be tracked in real-time because they can now happen immediately, as user data is captured when listeners respond to the ad—no more need to remember promo codes and vanity URLs. Voice commands will make sure the information needed to secure a special offer can get to you through one of several vehicles, including email, text, or in-app experiences. This will likely take a few years to become standard practice as platform policies continue to evolve. Yet when it comes, it will be worth the wait.
6. Funnel Faster
It’s not just about listener response in real-time. It’s also about the fact that what we now think about as landing pages will be more like a sales consultant that is riding shotgun in your car, at your desk or at home, and can help answer any questions and navigate any concerns that are required for you to purchase most items. More to come on this topic.
We all know that personalization is the future. Soon we will be able to create multiple messages for A/B testing, segmenting by customer profile, and evolving as they hear your ad messages at increasing levels of frequency so that the third ad you hear can be different from the first. Some companies already offer this type of tech on other platforms, but audio is generally a lagard. Imagine a day when this approach to creative development and trafficking becomes the rule rather than the exception. Audiolytics™ got a brand new bag.
All told, the Voice Internet will redefine and reimagine the way that marketers approach the planning of media, the mechanisms by which we attribute response, and the way we develop, optimize, and distribute creative—perhaps even more than the original internet revolution.