Voice Assistants – The Next Big Opportunity For Digital Marketers

I distinctly remember when Apple first released Siri and everyone was enthralled with asking her silly questions. In 2011, most people thought the idea of voice assistants were a useless function, something you could kill the time with as opposed to a practical application. Now, seven years later, the capabilities and functions of voice assistants have grown to be a part of people’s everyday life, and their function and adaptability are projected to grow even more in the coming years.

Since the release of Siri, many companies have released their own voice assistant. Google released their voice technology in 2012, Microsoft released Cortana in 2013, and Amazon released Alexa and the Amazon Echo in 2014. In the proceeding years, these technology powerhouses have continued to perfect  their products – advancing both their capabilities and product lines to accommodate all possible voice assistant function. People have built voice technology in their homes – locking doors, turning on lights, controlling the television, stoves, refrigerators – at this point, you could nearly talk your way through your morning routine (which might have its positives and negatives as seen in this ad released by TRY). With all the recent additions and advancements in voice technology, many people are projecting what to expect in 2019.

1. Differentiating voices: One of the main reasons people enjoy voice assistants is because of the personalization level. Devices will continue to get better at differentiating different voices. In 2017, Google announced that their home devices could detect up to six different users. This allows for more personal responses to questions like “what does my calendar look like today?” or receive a more tailored news report. A few months ago, Amazon caught up with this trend and announced unique user profiles for the Alexa devices. This will be a key focus in development advances in the months to come for all voice assistant devices. 

2. Automotive Breakthroughs: In 2018 car models, voice assistant became a standard feature. Mercedes A-Class and Audi A8 are using a system developed by Nuance, called “Just Talk.” Just as with Siri or Alexa, the system is programmed to recognize casual conversation cues, so users don’t have to memorize a set of commands. Examples of its application include phrases like “It’s warm in here” which would activate the air conditioning or asking for navigation directions. This type of tech, or apps such as drivesafe.ly allow drivers to safely get more done on their commute to and from work, keeping their eyes off their phone and on the road. The less buttons that drivers have to push, the safer driving while using tech will be, which is why many automotive companies are turning their attention to voice assistants.

3. Search Ad Revenue Increase: Although voice advertising will always pose some challenges and discrepancy because there isn’t the visual confirmation as with traditional search advertising, the popularity of this ad form will grow in 2019 due to the popularity of voice search apps on mobile devices. The use of voice searches, which in turn creates opportunities for voice ads, comes from an improvement in voice assistants accurately capturing the conversation. As I mentioned previously, in 2011, when Siri was first released, it was rare that she accurately picked up what you were asking. Now, voice assistant companies are reaching for a 99% accuracy level. With these ambitions, people will get used to using voice assistants for more searches. The result, this channel is a wide open opportunity for advertisers so much so that Juniper predicts voice-based ad revenue could reach $19 billion by 2022. If this prediction reigns true, Google and Amazon will not hesitate to open their platforms to additional forms of paid digital advertising.

4. Incorporation of screens: As voice assistants products became more popular, companies had to differentiate themselves. Google released the Google Assistant which featured all the favorite Google Home voice assistant features, but also has a 7 inch screen. This allows user to engage with the assistant even more, providing more opportunities for advertisers. The addition of the screen is a trend that we will see more of in 2019 as it provides even more opportunities for brand marketers.

Nearly half (46%) of adults in the United States use voice assistant making them a normal part of everyday life. With stable and growing usage, the  opportunities for this channel is unquestionable. With its many adaptations and potential for marketing revenue, advertisers need to keep an eye on the future of voice technology to ensure they aren’t missing an opportunity to diversify their media mix.

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