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Voice as a Platform: The New Frontier for Digital Marketing

I have no less than 20 tasks open on my computer right now, and 11 more open on my iPhone. This is what modern productivity looks like; everyone multitasks.

While it’s exciting to be able to take on so many different projects, communications, and tasks at the same time, I can realistically only look in one direction at a time, and therefore focus on one visual task at a time.

Enter the voice assistant.

Since 2010 we’ve gotten acquainted with Siri, Cortana, and more recently Alexa. Google used to be the go-to for search, but now I can effortlessly find out the latest NFL score while I’m focused on driving, or ask for a synonym while I’m actively writing, all without pulling up a search engine or opening an app or webpage. The transition from “Google it” to “ask Siri” has resulted in my multitasking abilities being significantly greater!

Voice assistance or Voice as a Platform (VaaP) is trendy, everywhere, and growing rapidly: sales skyrocketed for the Amazon Echo this year, and the overwhelming theme at CES was being Alexa compatible. The goal being that every new technology you bring into your home moving forward will eventually be voice activated, voice controlled, and will synch up to your own personal IoT – all with a pleasant, cordial voice to help you multitask with ease. This change in the way that users interact with technology is already creating and will continue to create challenges for marketers to keep up with.

As we have known it, digital marketing has been primarily visual. It requires screen time and a platform to host ads on. Companies who invest in digital marketing count on monetizing those pop-up ads, sponsored results, and search engine optimizations. It’s Google’s primary source of revenue, after all.  When a potential customer interacts with their screen it both generates data and delivers targeted, data-derived marketing in order to promote revenue. With the exponential growth of VaaP, more voice time quite simply means less screen time. This is bad news for visual-leaning digital incumbents like Google search, and this means that, when using VaaP, targeted visual advertisements and marketing are not implementable thus missing marketing opportunities (and potential revenue opportunities).

Marketers must find a new way to interact with customers on this expanding platform. This is a new, untapped frontier. I have yet to ask Siri or Alexa a question and get an answer that included some nugget of marketing or advertising. Digital marketing isn’t quite there yet. But it isn’t so farfetched to speculate that ads on Alexa are coming, or on other VaaP platforms to follow. Based on the direction we saw traditional search platforms take, we expect those ads to include increasingly hyper-personalized recommendations.

This is an opportune time to embrace the coming changes. Start putting your digital marketing creativity to use and come up with a way to market your brand or product that isn’t solely visual. Instead of putting marketing dollars into Google search ads, could it mean sponsoring Siri results? Perhaps being listed as the top response to “Coffee shops near me,” would provide a café with new customer growth. Could it be companies paying Alexa to select a particular brand, so when you ask “Alexa, order diapers,” it might be that Huggies has ‘purchased’ that command and their brand of diaper will be delivered to your door unless you specifically ask for a different one. It could be as simple as traditional advertising encouraging you to be branded in your VaaP communication: “When you order Chinese, order King Wok!” *Person in advertisement confidently says, ‘Cortana, order the King Wok special.’*

These are just hypotheticals, but there are endless possibilities – that’s the thrill of a new frontier!

Multitasking has opened the door to an entirely new platform present in our lives, and it’s the job of marketers to tap into it. As with all new frontiers, VaaP will yield its gold to those who get there quickly and those who creatively innovate. We’re in the beginning. Some targeted auditory ads already exist, like on Pandora. Mobile ads that talk back to you are in the works as well. Just last week, Johnnie Walker sponsored an Alexa themed ad on Instagram encouraging customers to enjoy their next drink with a whisky tasting guided by the VaaP.

As a ‘born digital’ company, Revel Consulting thrives on the cutting edge of digital transformation and analytics-based digital marketing capabilities. Revel ardently believes in consistent customer experiences and the importance of omnichannel ubiquity. “It’s important to use the numbers and use the data to create as much value as possible,” explained Arif Samad, head of the analytics community at Revel, “companies need to achieve this consistent brand across all platforms in order to be successful.” VaaP may very well be the next platform brands need to harness to stay relevant.

Get ready to capture the potential of VaaP marketing and unlock the value your company can create within that platform. Enjoy the thrill of the unknown. It might take some creative thinking, but it will be a direct revenue stream to your multitasking customer.


Thoughts contributed by Arif Samad, Laszlo Kismarton
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