How Digital Assistants Will Impact Marketing

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  • 3/5/2019
    Digital assistants are all around you. They are in your car, in your house and even in your pockets. But how do they impact marketing? Keep reading to find out. 
    Digital Assistants Know!
    “Alexa, please order a present for my wife’s birthday.” Based on how fast the AI algorithms are improving with smart speakers, this request will soon become as natural as asking Siri for directions to Syracuse. Better yet, since my smart speaker already knows when it’s my wife’s birthday, it will prompt me to action. The AI platform stores the music my wife listens to, her diet, her purchases and which shows she watches. Therefore it can provide me with targeted recommendations that will make her happy (and keep me out of the dog house).  
    The number of AI assistants has exploded in recent years. In fact, Amazon’s Echo/Alexa is the market share leader with over 30 million units sold in the U.S. and Google Home is gaining ground. As smart speakers become as common in the home as microwave - not to mention a standard feature in your next car - they will have a definitive impact on the next wave of marketing strategies and how brands will have to position themselves.  
    They’re Part of the Family
    After Alexa has been in a home for a little while, she becomes part of the family. Parents expect children to be polite to Alexa and we easily become frustrated or angry with her. Now that Alexa uses “contextual carryover,” her short-term memory and syntactical back-referencing makes the interaction more conversational. This smart, humble family member will, over time, earn our trust. It is this trust that will change how we spend our money and why brands will have to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. 
    Balancing Trust and Profits
    A brand’s value is linked to the trust consumers impart to their products. Apple can charge a premium for their iPhones because devotees are confident it will perform at a high level for years and is supported by an army of geniuses in t-shirts.
    All voice-activated platforms understand customers will not use their service to the fullest if they lose trust. It is one thing for your smart speaker to not know about some obscure fact or to get confused by your use of colloquialism. However, if your digital assistant makes a recommendation favoring a paying vendor that results in you overpaying for an inferior product, trust is broken. If the consumer does not trust their smart speaker, they will either move to another platform or they will revert back to using it solely to play music or find out about the weather.
    The amount of information a digital assistant can learn about its owner as they become more deeply engaged with this technology is scary to some and can raise privacy concern. If a smart speaker knows you will be flying to Denver in near future because it “saw” it on your calendar and then proactively alerts you to a hot price on airline tickets, that would be a pleasant surprise, but also a little creepy. Amazon claims it is only using this information to make the experience better, but at the same time Amazon is earning billions in digital advertising. 
    Beyond Bidding For Placement
    Voice-activated platforms cannot simply list the highest bidder’s product if it is inferior or not consistent with what is known about that consumer. Brands will have to understand the AI algorithms to get their products “listed” or recommended by the digital assistant. Before featuring a product, the algorithms will check to see if the product is relevant to a consumer. It can also compare consumer reviews, competitor pricing and the individual’s buying history before featuring a product. To succeed brands will need to understand these various metrics and adjust the products, offers and positioning to align with what the algorithms are finding.  
    So What Does This All Mean?
    All of this means that your brand will have to create marketing strategies that adapt to this changing technology. From optimizing product descriptions on your website to getting your product highly recommended by a digital assistant and everything in between, your brand needs to be voice SEO ready.
    Want the chance to talk about voice SEO or  how digital assistants can help you? Reach out to us!

    About the author::Joe Hicks is an Account Services Group Manager at thunder::tech.  He leads his team and helps manage the client’s relationship with the various departments at thunder::tech. When Joe’s not working he is a man of many hobbies from bee keeping to tough mudders to gardening and hitting up the local ice cream parlors. 
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