We like to get around at Pistachio, so to speak, and a few weeks ago some of us were fortunate enough to be able to attend an event at Dolby Screening House in London that was focused on the Future of Voice Technology.

Now, we know that this might sound a little bit space-age to some of you, but believe it or not, ComScore estimates that 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020, which is not very far away at all. So, what exactly is voice technology? And how can brands start to think about incorporating it into their own marketing strategy?

Anyone who has an anti-establishment type person amongst their ranks will already have been told that the voice devices in our homes are listening to everything we say – yes, EVERYTHING!!

Well, they’re not wrong, our ‘voice assistants’ do listen to every single thing that we say, but they only start recording /analysing these conversations when you ‘wake them up.’ For those of you still trying to stay off-grid, this means that they spring into action when you say a pre-determined word or phrase that acts as an ‘on/off’ button – which is pretty cool, albeit super, super creepy.

Therefore, your listening device knows exactly what you’re doing, what you want for dinner, how long it takes you to get to work every day – and yes, most probably where all the bodies are buried – making it a useful tool both for brands and consumers alike. It is true, information hoarding can be used in a Russian-esque dossier against us all someday, BUT more realistic is that it’s really being used to try and make our everyday lives as easy and seamless as possible.

So, we’re being constantly surveyed, tell us something we don’t know. Our smartphones, now permanently glued to our palms, have practically rendered us part cyborg anyway. But how do we embrace the development of voice technology as consumers AND utilise it as marketers?

Apps that operate via speaker devices allow brands to speak directly to the consumer, and with 35.8% of millennials using voice assistants at least once per month,* it’s clear that there is huge potential for growth in this area of the market for brands looking to extend their reach. By the same stroke, this process will hopefully ensure that customers living in the modern, digital age, will have their own developing needs met by increasingly intelligent and adaptive technological devices. (Chill out, there’s no need for Will Smith quite yet).

For example, applications (actions or skills as they’re more commonly known on Google and Alexa respectively) that currently work well via voice are from brands such as Dominoes or Ocado that allow you to order a previous selection solely via voice. However, it is important to stress that these apps only currently work well because they offer a limited, pre-selected choice for customers. It is assumed that this is to avoid any mishaps or an over-complication during the order process, something that this relatively new technology is most probably rapidly trying to combat.

There is little doubt that these offerings will become more developed as the technology advances, but for now, there is still a long way to go before voice technology becomes the mainstream way to purchase goods. Similarly, there is still a gap to bridge in encouraging consumers to trust that voice technology can deliver when it comes to keeping up with the fast-paced lives we all lead. Let’s face it, nobody wants to accidentally book a Ferry to the Netherlands when your 6 year old was just trying to get a some fairy wings for a Peter Pan themed party…

There are of course also issues for consumers in regards to security, despite the fact that we aimlessly enter our details into our digital devices at will, research indicates that many consumers fear entering personal data and payment details into a voice assistant, not to mention the current lack of scope for applying discount codes to products and a lack of preferred retailers being readily accessible on these devices.*

However, for many brands it’s not just about monetising voice, there are other ways in which an organisation can utilise the technology to their advantage in order to raise awareness for a cause or increase visibility of a product. For example the NSPCC has developed an interactive quiz and song that parents can participate in via their voice assistant (with their children) to educate them on safeguarding from the comfort of their own living room – thus raising the profile of the campaign, educating families and providing something that is useful, fun and interactive all at the same time.

And whilst these apps may be fewer in number at the moment, voice commerce sales are expected to reach 40 billion by 2022,* suggesting that the timeline for the adoption of voice technology is shrinking rapidly.

As a creative, digital agency, whilst our clients might not be thinking about investing in developing their own voice technology right this second, we do think it’s important to incorporate the topic within a wider conversation on branding, including beginning to think about guidelines for tone of voice, pitch and dialect etc when developing new marketing strategies for the future.

We hope that you’ve found this post to be an interesting read, we certainly found the event hosted by Greenwood Campbell (part of their Fable events series) very enjoyable to attend. For more information on Fable events please click here.

If you’re thinking about how your brand can take the next step in its creative, digital journey, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us today we’d love to hear from you!

*Say That Again?! The Definitive Guide to Voice Technology by Greenwood Campbell