Voice AI Will Completely Change How We Advertise... For The Better?

Ready for another not so hot, hot take? 2018 will be a huge year for voice-controlled AI.

Listen (pun intended), I know talking about voice AI is nothing new, but since the bandwagon hasn't just pulled up yet, I thought I'd try to get a head start and talk about voice AI's potential from a marketing point of view! At least this way I can say I called it. Because at the end of the day I'm one of those awful people who like to say they knew about something before it was cool!

When we think of voice AI's we tend to focus on our smartphones with the soothing, and subtly terrifying, voices of Siri and Cortana. However, in more recent times, we may be even more familiar with ALEXA, as Amazon slowly creeps into every aspect of our lives... for convenience sake!

In America, both Amazon and Google have sold 27 million voice devices so far, and in a recent study we found out that 29% of people who own devices like the Echo and Google Home say they shop via voice, and 41% plan to in the future. I expect these numbers will rise dramatically as predictive retail becomes a reality.

Walmart and Google recently teamed up so Google Assistant can scan your purchase history and ask, “Do you want to reorder Colgate toothpaste for $2.99?”. It can also suggest you buy floss at a discount; with a one-word response, you’re done. I'll say it again, terrifying but kinda convenient.

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However, with the process becoming more and more convenient it brings forward some new challenges we will need to overcome. Product/service discovery could potentially be an issue. If your product is niche how will anyone find it via voice unless they’re asking about it?

A natural progression to this would be paid voice searches but with such a new concept it would need to be done right. Voice AI providers and their advertising systems would need to allow for highly personalised targeting otherwise inaccurate paid suggestions could undermine the seamless nature of Voice search functions.

Things get a bit trickier when a product isn’t identical to something you already bought. Because there are no shelves or product catalogs to browse, marketers will likely create shopping experiences that integrate voice and visual interfaces, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home connected to a TV via Chromecast. These brands will need to think about integrating voice into their brand experience online, on mobile, in messaging apps and in stores.

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Voice technology will alter the marketing landscape. Sooner than you think, it will change how we shop in a few distinct ways, and brands will need to get ahead of these changes. Shifts in consumer behaviour may feel subtle today, but they will have long-lasting effects on our expectations, buying habits and relationships with brands.

Be ahead of the curve!