How brands can join the voice-assisted conversation
From The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today
As consumers grow more accustomed to using voice commands for everything internet-related, brands may want to explore ways to take advantage of voice recognition’s unique capabilities.
Coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last year, one of the hottest topics was the prevalence of voice recognition assistants and products. As another CES commences, this trend is expected to continue as consumers have begun adapting to these devices’ convenience and ease of use. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Digital Media Trends (DMT) Survey, more than half of US consumers use a voice assistant on a mobile device, computer, or smart speaker. A third of those consumers access voice capabilities weekly.
At this point, voice technologies are used primarily for information searches, playing music, and making phone calls. Smartphones remain the most popular device for voice assistance, though other devices are gaining traction. Deloitte Global predicts the industry for smart speakers will be worth $7 billion in 2019. In the United States, voice-assisted smart speaker penetration increased to 20 percent in 2018 from 12 percent in 2017, according to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey. Indeed, some experts believe voice could become the next big development in human-computer interaction.1
Consumers most value voice assistance for information search, according to the Digital Media Trends Survey. By 2020, around 50 percent of all consumer searches will be voice-based, according to some predictions, presenting a significant opportunity in search advertising. In fact, voice-enabled search advertising spending is expected to reach nearly $19 billion by 2022.
Source: Deloitte analysis based on data from Digital media trends survey, 12th edition
What does this mean for brands and advertisers?
To capitalize on this opportunity, marketers may want to understand the nuanced differences between voice- and text-enabled queries. Unlike text searches, voice search queries are much more conversational (e.g., “What’s the weather like?” rather than “What’s the forecast?”). Accordingly, companies may want to employ advanced natural language processing (NLP) capabilities for better comprehension and responses. Cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) services are making it easier to build advanced NLP or to access ready-made applications.
Beyond search, many brands also have begun exploring how to turn voice control capabilities into ownable, useful, and entertaining content. In any case, voice-controlled assistants, apps, and actions can offer advertisers an ability to deliver highly targeted, personalized messages to consumers in real time. Marketers may want to explore how machine learning and AI could be enhanced for predictive modeling across platforms.
Because search has emerged as the top use for voice assistants, organizations that can currently capitalize on that application are likely to reap the biggest early rewards. Nonetheless, it’s still early days for voice recognition. Marketers may want to continue adapting their offerings based on popular use cases (such as music streaming, which is the second most popular application after search, according to Deloitte analysis), while also experimenting with new approaches.
—by Jeff Loucks, managing director of the Technology, Media and Telecommunications Center at Deloitte Services LP
1 Eric Bieller, “What’s the Future of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)?,” CareerFoundry, September 20, 2018; Anthony Miller, “Voice Interfaces: New Era of Human-Computer Interactions,” millermedia7, August 15, 2017.