When the IAB approached us to participate in IAB Voice Market Snapshot Report, we knew this was an important category. NPR had its voice wake-up call in December 2016. The Amazon Echo had been out for a handful of months, and we knew NPR News Now, our hourly news podcast, was the default news briefing on the platform. But it was hard to distinguish the traffic on Alexa from other sources.
On Christmas Day, we went from an average of a quarter million people accessing the Newscast per day to three times that, in just a few hours. It was everyone opening their Alexa Dot or Echo on Christmas morning and trying out the commands. That was when we realized voice was gaining fast traction with audiences. And that growth has only accelerated since; in the 2017 holiday season, NPR saw its smart speaker audience on the Google platform double over the week of Black Friday, and double again over Christmas, thanks to holiday sales.
NPR and Edison Research have tracked consumer adoption of smart speakers with the Smart Audio Report since early 2017. We’ve learned two important things. First, smart speaker adoption is outpacing smartphone adoption rates. And second, these devices are having a dramatic impact on consumers’ lives. In our most recent Smart Audio Report survey, fielded in 2017, 65% of owners say they wouldn’t want to go back to life without their Smart Speaker.
This has huge implications for publishers and marketers. The world of voice interaction is different from previous media. It’s two-way. It’s conversational. It’s easy to avoid things you don’t like. And you have to ask for things by name.
It’s still early days for the era of voice, but already we are seeing voice-activated devices expand in scope and importance. People are using voice to control their homes, manage schedules, seek entertainment and even help parent their children. Publishers and marketers need to find their place in this new world, and it requires a different approach. As Google said at the recent IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, you need to be assistive – to help and provide value.
“Particularly in an increasingly direct to consumer brand economy, brands are seeking to engage with consumers in more authentic, native and non-interruptive ways,” said Susan Borst, IAB’s VP of Mobile. She added, “The topic of voice, and its implications for brand marketing is a hot topic among IAB members. While still in an experimental phase, the IAB Voice Market Snapshot Report, featuring interviews from nearly a dozen industry leaders, sheds light on how/why Interactive Voice is different vs. other platforms and provides helpful insights into ways marketers should consider getting started with Voice. The report ends with predictions, threats and trends to watch in this emerging, and exciting space. As this platform evolves, you can expect to see more IAB insight into best practices and case studies in the marketing arena.”
The IAB Voice Market Snapshot Report gives an overview of the growing world of interactive voice assistants. Consider it a wake-up call.