How has speech recognition changed people's lives

How digital speech recognition is changing marketing

Digital voice assistants such as Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant & Co are on the rise. In the future, brands will have to prepare their messages in such a way that they are preferred by language-based artificial brains that suddenly make purchasing decisions for people. Nothing is like it was before - neither in marketing nor in families.

You hear of children who recently started talking to their parents like Alexa. "Papa, clean up my room!" - this is how kids transfer the command form in artificial intelligence to interpersonal relationships. As families now face new educational challenges, the talking machines mean nothing less than a paradigm shift for CMOs and their marketing colleagues.

The new digital helpers are not only changing the way people communicate with the Internet, they are also changing their willingness to give up privacy in favor of convenience.

Are smartphones being replaced by digital voice assistants?

The chatting computers are perceived to be so practical that they could even replace the smartphone in some cases in the future. Every sixth US household already has an Alexa voice assistant who, if desired, can turn on the light, play music, order online, explain cooking recipes and find transport connections - 75 percent of households should have access to them by the end of 2020. In 2017 alone, the increase was 128 percent.


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Watson Assistant

IBM wants to compete with Alexa, Siri & Co

Alexa, Siri, Bixby and Co are now joined by the Watson Assistant. At the in-house think conference currently taking place in Las Vegas, the IT giant IBM presented its own smart everyday helper.

About a seventh of the world's population uses voice-based search, and forecasts see rapid growth up to 2021: 1.8 billion people will then use voice search. In markets such as the USA, which are pioneers in the application of new technologies, 70 percent of 18 to 29 year olds use voice-based search, compared with 38 percent of those aged 54 and over.

According to the Digital Consumer Survey 2018 by the management consultancy Accenture, a third of online users in China and India will buy smart loudspeakers by the end of 2018: markets in which voice search is already established and which are fighting with the USA for global AI domination.

It is by no means unlikely that digital voice assistants will gradually overtake smartphones.

Even if technology is sometimes struggling with teething problems and complex tasks are still overwhelming, the spirit does not slip back into the bottle from which it escaped. On the contrary: In Germany too, people and the Internet will in future communicate with one another primarily via voice.

"Whoever comes first and does it skillfully digs himself deep into the mind and heart of the consumer"

Britta Heer, Edelman Ergo

Just one year after their market launch in Germany, the devices are generating great interest among consumers. According to the BVDW, more than every second German online user had experience with digital voice assistants in 2017 or can imagine using them. The 16 to 24 year olds are particularly affine: three out of four respondents have already used voice-based AI.

The new mindfulness: Alexa & Co ensure better concentration

Apparently the speaking helpers hit a nerve. A Google survey of 1,500 owners of Google Home and Amazon Echo last summer showed that users are finding their way back to the concentration that stole their smartphones.

Sara Kleinberg, Head of Ads Research and Insights at Google, quotes a respondent who speaks for many survey participants: "It's more interactive and you take out your smartphone much less often. You don't have to interrupt your conversations anymore. And if I want to look something up, I no longer have to block out everything that is being said around me. Somehow we are all always in the here and now. "

Further arguments for the new technology are convenience and time savings - you can type a maximum of 40 words per minute, but speak 150 words. Users also appreciate the personal touch: They told Google it felt like talking to a friend or relative. Most users no longer want to do without the smart assistants after they have got used to them.

The Germans and data protection

Everyone knows: Germans tend to be cautious when it comes to data protection and privacy. The unease about how the data collected by Alexa, Google Home, Siri & Co is processed on servers in the USA is currently being re-fueled by the Facebook data scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica. The social network actually wanted to introduce its own smart loudspeaker with digital assistant and video chat function in May, but has now postponed it.

© Amazon

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Alexa upsets users with uncontrolled laughter

With a program update, Amazon wants to prevent its assistance software from disturbing Alexa users with unexpected laughter. In the past few days there have been increasing complaints in the USA that the assistant bursts out laughing uncontrollably.

Despite all the justified criticism from privacy advocates in this country - this technology will prevail thanks to one single, decisive factor: convenience. Nobody expresses it as aptly as the internet philosopher (and former advertiser) Sascha Lobo: "The world power comfort beats everything, even German concerns."

Mood of optimism in the marketing industry

Marketers need to act now. There is an excited pioneering mood among those marketing decision-makers who have recognized their opportunity. Because not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon yet. Whoever comes first and does it skillfully digs himself deep into the minds and hearts of consumers.

You have to know that the new gatekeepers for information and interaction work differently than usual. While the screen-based search produces long lists of results, digital voice assistants usually only provide one answer.

The most important question that is currently bothering marketing people is: How does my content become a "Featured Snippet", ie how does it make it to "Position Zero" of the organic voice search?

Website optimization is the magic word - using "Voice SEO" to place good content that can be found on your own websites and in social media, as well as: listen, listen, listen.

"Anyone who thinks that the use of high-reach influencers will solve the problem for once is on the wrong track."

Britta Heer, Edelman Ergo

Some brands have already practiced this with chatbots: How does the consumer communicate with the brand, how would he like to be addressed? What questions does he ask, when does he just want information, when to buy? Which interaction does he want, where is the line between useful and annoying?

Brands have to think carefully about how to prepare their messages in such a way that voice-based AI gives them preference in purchasing decisions. So much for the duty. The free choice is achieved by marketers if they manage to land so far up front in the relevant set of consumers that they pass on the purchase decision they have already made to the digital assistant: "Alexa, order me Tchibo Fine mild!"

Earned Marketing: Take brand experiences home with you

Even if voice search does not completely replace desktop or mobile, the intelligently communicating loudspeaker will in future be used primarily at home or in the car when out and about.

Brands have to work harder than ever to create unique brand experiences that consumers can take home with them. Anyone who thinks that the problem will be solved with the use of high-reach influencers is on the wrong track. Strategic storytelling is now needed, which combines voice search and earned marketing with sensible use of media. "You will never get a second chance for a first impression", the first throw has to be right.

Rethinking the choice of product names

In future, the product name will also have to be chosen in such a way that consumers and digital assistants have it quickly to hand when it comes to making a purchase decision. Quite a few marketers will also have to ask themselves whether their sub-brands still have the correct name or whether the product portfolio should not be re-tagged based on language usage. But even the most concise name needs a tone and emotionality that match the brand.

Brands need a voice

When the voice becomes the new interface of the digital, as Sascha Lobo puts it, you have to ask yourself what voice you give your brand. What does fine milk chocolate sound like - and what voice does dark chocolate use? Do edding pens sound different to Stabilo highlighters? Which sound profile suits Roeckl gloves?

And how do I combine the new acoustic brand identity with a language-savvy earned marketing strategy? Questions that all marketers should deal with in the future who want to remain successful in times of digital language assistance and verbal search queries.