Insights 26/11/2018

We have our ears to the ground and we’re listening closely to the noises voices coming out of the industry, and they’re set to amplify far bigger than the chairs that Olly, Tom, Jennifer and sit on during its namesake show. Voice Recognition is another feather to the cap of the technologically integrated lifestyle, where it’s expected around 50% of all searches will be voice-led by 2020, according to ComScore.

Considering this prospect, as well as many other recent staggering forecasts for voice search, it would be a massive missed opportunity if businesses failed to verbalise their services using this smart-tech sensation. Google Assistant is already available on over 400 million devices, Alexa has charmed her way into 25-million+ households, and with an expected increase in smart speaker manufacturing, this is sure to rise over the coming years with the likes of Apple and Facebook set to join the party.

Replacing the screen with a voice may seem like a scary jump into the unknown for many businesses and brands out there. Yet as history has shown us, fresh innovation in technology will always mature and become ‘the norm’ in the end. The fact of the matter is this, consumers seek convenience; a quicker and smarter way of getting what they want, and at the moment, voice recognition is poised to accommodate this need-for-speed.

Where we are and where to start?

A business that wants to succeed from 2018 onwards will need to accept and embrace this new technology. It needs to weigh up how voice will affect current marketing efforts such as social, content creation and copywriting. Aspiring businesses already have something on their side, and that is voice technology still being in its infancy in terms of undertaking tasks. Voice-activated virtual assistants (VAs) have crept into the home to carry out simple demands such as turning off lights, playing music and writing shopping lists… but its intelligence itinerary is sure to blossom into a bigger, more complex beast.

You’re a craving a Madras for dinner but you’re unsure on what you need. “OK, Google. I want Madras for dinner. Tell me the ingredients and check my fridge.” The Google Assistant replies “You have all the ingredients but turmeric, cumin and garlic in your fridge.” So, off you pop to the shop to buy them ahead of dinner time. Fast forward into future years, and developers at Amazon and Google aspire to make this process even more convenient for the user – you order your missing items and they’re delivered to your door by drone – a concept that’s closer to becoming a reality than you may have thought.

The possibilities for brands

The possibilities for brands to take advantage and succeed using VAs is deafening. It is also very apparent that voice recognition isn’t just tailored to one type of business, as brands centred around food and drink, sports, fashion, travel, health and much more will all have an opportunity to get their voices heard. For food and drink brands there’s plenty of room for a diverse service offering; from guidance and advice-led marketing to help building brand personality and consumer loyalty, along with straight-forward product insight to help generate sales. For instance, a user hosting a party in a couple of weeks and wants to produce a knock-out punch for their guests – brands can not only create recipe guides to improve their consumers cocktail making skills but they can also offer a speedy solution to missing ingredients, as they link out to brand products featured on Amazon. At the moment Alexa links to Amazon Prime products only.

Similarly, travel businesses can also provide a multi-layered service using VAs. A travel brand or airline has the chance to supply people interested in travelling with detailed information and advice, including learning a country’s language or highlighting popular landmarks, discussing local cuisine and providing information on a city’s transport. If done well, this may mean the difference between someone looking elsewhere or buying tickets to a destination.

Voicing our opinion

We already know that 2018 will see more advances in AI, and therefore in VAs, with computer science and software engineering improving rapidly. It’s yet to be seen how voice will affect social media. As a digital agency designed for today, it’s our job to spot upcoming attention shifts, help our clients understand the benefits and deliver success using this technology. With Alexa Skills yet to be highly discoverable, ultimately, it is still our job to build your social media presence, but when the time is really upon us, we’ll look to shift those consumers towards voice. There’s no doubting that this is an intriguing time for business, but unlike years before, ‘voice teach and search’ should not be thought of as a whimsical, passing trend. Instead, its roots have a strong foothold in marketing and brands need to start thinking about factoring in VOICE into their long- term marketing strategy or risk being silenced by their competitors.