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25 & 26 MARCH 2020

ExCeL LONDON

Will We See A Growth In Smart Speaker Advertising?

Homes are becoming smarter. You can now turn on the radio, turn on the lights and find out the weather forecast without even pressing a button. How, you ask? By voice activation. In the UK, 22.4% of internet users are frequently using a smart speaker. This number will only grow as smart technology advances as it becomes a must-have in your home. While we are using these throughout our daily routines, can we expect to see advertising being read out on our smart speakers?

Smart Speaker Marketing In 2019



 

There are currently three main smart speakers being used in our homes: Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Apple Homepod. At this moment, Amazon is the most popular choice with their smart voice assistant Alexa. To use this, it is a simple voice activation of ‘Alexa’ followed by anything you want to say or ask. Alexa can then google anything you ask, or will alternatively use any third party apps that you have downloaded for it. This type of artificial intelligence is becoming more user-based and opens a market for advertising. 

Many have theorised that this will lead into a new way of marketing as advertising will slowly creep into how our smart speakers interact and communicate with us. When we ask for the best recipes or best products, it could eventually recommend you products in the form of a disguised advertisement. Additionally, it could place product placement into your conversations with it. For example, when people would ask Alexa what it has been doing, it would reply ‘I’ve been playing Fortnite’. While Amazon were adamant that this was not an ad, many customers were furious with the fact that they had not consented to advertising, yet were being recommended the video game.

Amazon maintain the stance that this was not an advertisement and that they were simply using cultural references to ensure that Alexa stayed up-to-date with current trends, they acknowledged that this may not be what people wanted from their voice assistant. 

However, at this current time, there hasn’t yet been an influx of advertising in the smart speaker market. Amazon actually do not allow adverts on their devices, unless it is within a third party app. In this case, some apps manage to use product placement for their advertising within the app, for example recommending specific alcohol brands for your cocktails. 

Are Customers Happy With Voice Advertising?



 

Clearly, there are already some unhappy customers regarding the sample size of existing advertising. Following Amazon’s mentioning of Fortnite, one unhappy user decided to unplug all of his smart speakers in protest of being advertised to without consent. This was largely in response to having the video game advertised to his children when he had not permitted this. 

However, the trend is beginning to show an acceptance of voice ads, as 39% find voice ads on smart speakers more engaging than web banners or tv ads, according to a study of 1000 consumers. The fact that people say they prefer this could be due to the fact that there simply isn’t as many ads for voice technology, in comparison to video and web. However, this could be the exact reason why smart speaker advertising could be a great way to open up a new way of marketing.

While many suggest that they would welcome voice advertising over more traditional types of advertising, there have been more problems shown through examples of voice technology already. Google Home attempted an advertising partnership with Beauty and the Beast in 2017. Users would ask Google to outline ‘my day’ where it would tell them their scheduled events on their calendar, but it would also include the fact that the new Beauty and the Beast movie was released the same day. This was received very negatively as users felt that it was an intrusion to include it on their day-to-day schedule. 

What Is The Future Of Smart Speaker Advertising?



 

Although advertising through smart speakers has gotten off to a rocky start through some efforts, Amazon seem to have not given up on the idea. In fact, they plan on slowly integrating their advertising in the near future. Visitors to Amazon’s offices have previously said that they plan to make revenue from Alexa through advertising. Their only problem at the moment with this is that they haven’t yet figured out a way to implement this without affecting customer experience. 

Surprisingly, while the attempts to advertise through smart speaking have struggled, a large amount believe that it would not be a problem. A study showed that 43% of participants believed smart speaker advertising was less intrusive than other methods of advertisements. This, again, opens the fact that voice advertising could become a new avenue in the future that people will adapt to and accept. 

This new willingness to accept voice advertising bodes well for marketing agencies who are looking to tap into the smart speaker market. As the use of smart speakers is expected to increase year upon year, it is almost unimaginable that companies would not look to profit from this. As we can now see a significant growth in the use of speakers, the new question is when can we expect to see voice advertising? Let us know your thoughts on social media!

Next read: Should We Embrace AI In B2B Marketing?