The past 18 months have caused unprecedented disruption for businesses and consumers alike. As brands navigate the massive shift in consumer behavior and expectations from this disruption, advertising and marketing teams must work overtime to keep their current customers coming back for more, as well as to draw in new ones. Enter custom branded voices as a solution.
Between asking smart hubs like Alexa or Google Assistant to add items to a shopping list or inquiring about breaking news, consumers can’t get enough of the instant gratification that comes with having a virtual assistant within range. However, to ensure that their brand voice content is being associated with (and not the brand of the actual assistant), advertisers must add custom voice to their campaigns to capitalize on this shift in consumer behavior.Â
The Current Digital Voice Market
The first component of the digital voice market that marketers must consider is the breadth of the voice landscape. A recent market reportOpens a new window from Canalys predicts that more than 160 million voice assistants will be purchased globally by the end of the year, representing a 21% increase in the smart speaker market compared to 2020. Advertisers and marketers must adapt their campaigns to this medium to reach a rapidly growing audience with effective and distinct content pertinent to the smart speaker platform.
In the initial stages of digital voice exploration, many companies jump into the world of mainstream voice assistants from Alexa and Google Assistant on their respective native smart speakers. While these speakers are a great resource because they are installed in the homes of a wide and varied audience, simply enabling a Skill (Amazon) or Action (Google) within a smart speaker limits the power of the interaction as it is associated with the speaker, not the brand itself. The brand’s unique content or message is muddied by the ubiquitous assistant’s voice, making it unclear to the user if they are engaging with the company or content determined by the smart assistant.Â
Leveraging Custom Voice for Marketing
Creating a custom voice is the solution. Having a distinct and recognizable branded voice is crucial to establishing connections with customers and building direct rapport with the brand. Like a jingle that gets stuck in a consumer’s head, a properly customized and consistent voice makes a brand easily identifiable across voice touchpoints, creating a unique customer experience that helps consumers identify and connect with the brand.Â
Choosing the right partner is essential in creating an effective digital voice campaign. When evaluating potential partners, brands should ask themselves whether the vendor uses technologies like conversational AI, text-to-speech or natural language processing. It’s also important to consider privacy and data security when researching voice technology partners, as being correctly aligned on the component parts of the process will prevent compliance and data management issues. Once the correct partner(s) is selected and the custom voice is generated, advertisers and marketers need to create the right ecosystem to make it successful. To start, they’ll need a team of customer experience pros and specialists to determine the goals of the voice experience. This team will need to consider how to implement this technology into channels beyond smart speakers, especially as interactivity and personalization increase in the voice advertising market. Other platforms to consider branching into include smart TVs or smart home appliances.
Fueling Interactive Advertising With Voice Technology
Interactive voice advertisements can be strong additions to the advertiser’s toolbox to attract and capture the audience’s attention. Research supports the value of digital voice as well, with expectations that the digital voice ad industry will jump to $19 billion by 2022, according to Juniper ResearchOpens a new window . Voice technology can be implemented in mobile streaming services, smart speakers and in-car media, to name a few avenues. Ads in these spaces encourage listeners to engage with exclusive content and collaborate through prompts and cues that establish dialogue and foster discussion. Not only do these ads speak directly to customers with engaging messaging, but they involve more finesse than traditional print, TV or radio ads, as they ask listeners if they’d like to hear more, rather than barrage them with unnecessary content. These kinds of promotions are inherently more impactful than standard ads, as they allow the consumer to dictate their preferences and level of engagement, leaving a positive and lasting connection to the brand. A custom branded voice makes the initial impression all the more effective.
In the consumer market, voice technology has already taken off. People are already familiar with speech-enabled mobile and web content which provides better accessibility and more options for consuming content based on user preference. The Wall Street Journal has enabled its articles with text-to-speech technology. The entertainment industry has adopted custom voice as evidenced by Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, which uses â€œon commandâ€ voice-activated advertisementsOpens a new window during their programming to prompt subscribers to speak into their remotes to take advantage of exclusive offers.Â
While these examples speak to voice adoption in the consumer market, B2B marketers are also harnessing the power of voice technology. In fact, voice technology seamlessly integrates into pre-existing marketing campaigns. B2B marketers can leverage custom audio to make calls-to-action more impactful. For example, when users listen to articles on a brand’s website, voice-activated promotions with company-specific voice s play at the end of the recording, replacing what would normally be a contact form or subscription link. While the customer is actively engaging through a branded voice experience, they can intuitively request more information naturally and fluidly, rather than an interruptive process that requires them to transition from reading to typing information into a form or clicking a button, making the experience and interface one and the same.Â
As the market for voice-enabled advertising grows, leveraging custom voice will be critical for advertisers and marketers to ensure they are capturing the full scope of what digital voice technology has to offer. Voice technology can help separate brands from their competition, improving customer trust and boosting ROI overall.