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Advertising with Alexa: Why Marketing via Voice Assistant Will Be More Challenging Than You Think

April 18th, 2018 Posted by Strategy No Comment yet

These days, it seems like everyone has a voice assistant or smart speaker to help them with their day-to-day lives.  Even if you don’t have one, you’re guaranteed to have heard people discussing the benefits and drawbacks of new technology like Alexa, Siri, or Google Home. So, what do you need to consider when it comes to advertising with Alexa? 

These voice assistants are a form of AI that is rapidly evolving because of its popularity, and they are now being placed in a variety of other household technology including mirrors, smoke alarms, lights, and more. 

At this point, a variety of well-known brands have begun indirectly marketing to Amazon Alexa users by introducing their own skills (downloadable apps that allow users to customize their experience) related to their brand.  For example, Tide, a laundry detergent brand, launched an Alexa “Stain Remover” skill, which allows the voice assistant to offer instructions for the removal of any of the 200 stains included in the skill.  

However, marketing via voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home is still currently a relatively untapped field because the big companies who create these assistants, like as Amazon, Google, and Apple, have been hesitant to introduce advertising into their devices for a few reasons.

Firstly, because consumers who purchase a smart speaker are already paying for the device.  Being bombarded with ads on free websites and search engines is one thing, but when the cost of a voice assistant ranges from $50 to upwards of $200, consumers are likely to be a bit annoyed if Alexa starts delivering ads before answers to their questions.   

Another issue with advertising with Alexa and other voice assistants like Google Home is the lack of trust that could develop if brands are allowed to advertise in their search results.  According to The Smart Audio Report, a study of smart speaker owners performed by NPR and Edison Research, behind listening to music and hearing about the weather the most common use for a smart speaker is answering questions.  In fact, 52% of smart speaker owners use their device regularly to answer general questions. 

So, if brands are allowed to advertise with voice assistants, consumers may lose faith in the answers they receive, suspecting that they may be influenced by which companies are paying the most to advertise through their speakers.  This issue seems to be more of a concern for Google’s range of smart speakers, because they currently have fewer capabilities and apps like Alexa’s skills, and focus primarily on answering questions for their users instead.

Still, even with all of their challenges, the growing popularity of voice speakers and smart assistants like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and others, makes them impossible to ignore for forward-thinking marketers. But, for now at least, the future of voice assistant advertising is in the hands of the companies who produce them, and who need to decide how they will handle future advertising before brands can inject their message into the smart speaker user experience.  

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