Our industry is witnessing a massive shift in consumer behavior — one that’s going to entirely reshape how marketers connect and enable shoppers going forward. Just as programmatic advertising has become table stakes and marketers have started to get their arms around their cross-device strategies, it’s time to prepare for the next upheaval.
Welcome to the Age of Voice
Today’s consumers are increasingly embracing audio assistants. While such assistants aren’t new, consumer comfort with them has never been higher. And as comfort grows, so does consumer interest in deeper applications. While initial use of audio assistants was typically confined to a single device for simple tasks such as grocery and to-do list transcriptions, people are now increasingly turning to their phones and other smart devices to both search and shop with their voice.
Last year, more than 60 million Americans used a voice assistant at least once a month. Much of this usage occurred on personal smartphones, but this consumer behavior shift is also driving impressive rates of investment in new voice-enabled technology. By 2020, 55 percent of American homes will be equipped with at least one smart speaker.
This impressive growth has significant implications for commerce. By the end of 2022, voice commerce will be a $40 billion industry. As you might imagine, the advertising landscape is moving fast to keep up. Just as programmatic advertising has evolved in recent years to accommodate new consumer behaviors across mobile devices and connected TVs, we’re about to witness a rise in programmatic ad buying capabilities for audio as well. Will your brand strategy and creative be ready?
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Audio as the Ultimate Cross-Device Behavior
As consumers invest more heavily in voice-enabled devices, they’re increasingly expecting their voice experiences to seamlessly transition with them across devices. Tech giants such as Google and Amazon are well aware of this expectation and are investing heavily. Google Assistant, for example, now allows consumers to use their voices to control more than 1,500 smart home devices from more than 225 brands. Importantly, Google Assistant and others are also enabling ease of purchasing by letting consumers make purchases with simple audio commands. No wallet required.
To understand the cross-device audio reality that brands need to accommodate, let’s consider a simple use case from the consumer perspective. Let’s say, for example, a person is listening to an Audible book on her phone as she bikes in the morning. When she gets back to her house, she kicks the stream over to her smart speakers as she’s making breakfast. In the car on her way to work, she continues listening to the book via Bluetooth as she drives. By the time she arrives at the office, she’s already on Chapter 5. Throughout her morning, she’s expected a seamless transition of the same experiences from device to device, and Amazon has delivered.
During this listening experience, this consumer has also heard a few ads that are tailored to her listening preferences, location, and tastes based on the playlists and audio channels to which she’s subscribed. Here is where forward-thinking brands can embrace the personalized nature of audio environments by utilizing dynamic creative optimization (DCO) technology to create seemingly tailored ad experiences to their audiences. Each one has had a powerful opportunity to connect with a consumer who, with a simple voice command, could become an instant customer.
New Consumer Behaviors Require New Advertising Strategies
Voice control is rapidly becoming the new norm for consumers. According to last year’s report from NPR and Edison Research, 65 percent of smart speaker owners say they wouldn’t want to go back to not having one. Interestingly, their everyday shopping behaviors have already adapted to the presence of these devices in their lives. Thirty-one percent of smart speaker owners reported that they had used voice to add an item to their shopping cart so they could buy it later. Twenty-two percent used their voice to re-order an item they regularly purchase, with the same percentage using their smart speakers to order new products.
Voice searches are 30 times more likely to be action-based. People aren’t browsing with their voices; they’re full-on shopping. As such, audio and voice-enabled devices represent a unique opportunity for marketers: the chance to reach engaged listeners in a targeted way, when they’re equipped to buy with ease. In addition, with geo-targeting, marketers can reach consumers with helpful offers that specifically highlight nearby stores and offers.
With 24 million people streaming music and podcasts each week, there are enormous opportunities for brands to target people on-the-go with relevant and timely messages that only require a verbal affirmative to initiate a purchase. That’s the power of voice. Consumers are ready. Is your advertising strategy?