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There are 117 million voice assistant users in the U.S. right now, with that number predicted to grow. And, the comfort consumers have with voice assistants like Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s Siri has led to a rise in voice-powered advertising. Several brands have recently partnered with NBCUniversal to launch voice-powered ads on the network’s new streaming service Peacock, and Mastercard is joining with voice-enabled technology companies to streamline the drive-thru ordering process, bringing voice activation to the forefront of digital commerce.
Voice-Powered Ad Campaigns Debut On NBCUniversal Streaming Platform Peacock
Last month, a new Target/Unilever ad campaign launched on Peacock. When the commercial airs, viewers can speak the phrase “Save with Suave” into their voice-enabled remote controls to receive a $5 coupon for the Unilever brand of haircare products at Target. Verizon, Subaru and State Farm have also signed exclusive deals with NBCUniversal to launch different types of ads and test what works, including voice-powered ads, on the new platform.
“It’s critical that our brands show up where our consumer is, whether that’s online, on TV, via streaming services, in the audio space or wherever else they are consuming content,” said Rob Master, Vice President of Media and Digital Engagement for Unilever. Adding, “the idea that someone could have the option of receiving a coupon or learning more about a product in the midst of watching a show was a really interesting and appealing idea to us.” Consumers can choose to engage or move on, allowing them to feel more in control and potentially less irked by the commercial interruption.
Advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) platforms like Peacock rely on ads for revenue, but need to carefully thread the needle when it comes to overwhelming viewers with commercials, particularly when there are ad-free subscription streaming options. “TV is inherently a lean-back entertainment vehicle,” said Rob Aksman, Chief Strategy Officer at BrightLine, an ad technology company. “The key will be layering this on in a way that isn’t interruptive to the viewing experience, but rather complements it.” New immersive ad formats, like pause ads currently on Hulu’s basic tier, and shoppable video and content, are offering integrated and possibly less intrusive ways for AVOD platforms to scale revenues and retain viewers.
Mastercard Partners With AI Company On Voice Enabled Ordering At QSRs
Quick-serve restaurants (QSRs), popular for their delivery options during the pandemic, have been looking at ways in recent months to increase accessibility for consumers who still want to order out, but don’t want to be around crowds. This includes drive-thru options, and recently Mastercard partnered with SoundHound Inc. on voice-enabled technology that would make it easier than ever to place orders at a QSRs without a long wait or ordering errors. “Consumers today believe voice ordering makes their experiences more convenient and less stressful, and we look forward to helping Mastercard deliver frictionless service, convenience, and customer safety,” said Amir Arbabi, VP of Business Development at SoundHound Inc.
The partnership is the latest move by Mastercard to provide in-person shopping solutions that streamline purchasing interactions, being mindful of pandemic protocols and consumer preferences for seamless payment options. The voice-enabled ordering for QSRs, for example, removes the need to wait for an employee to take an order, freeing up employees to focus on customer service and getting orders together quickly. The drive-thru technology will begin pilots at White Castle locations in October 2020 with other QSRs added in the following months.
Voice-Powered Commerce Is Another Way For Advertisers To Reach Consumers Across Verticals
Although it goes by many different names, voice and response-based technology creates alternative advertising and commerce opportunities. These consumer-focused voice technologies allow consumers to engage as much or as little as they would like with advertisers, which may appeal to both consumers who are ad-averse or wary of being served too many commercials and those who enjoy interacting with brands. Voice-enabled AI technologies offer seamless solutions to purchases, and are likely to appeal to younger, savvier audiences accustomed to using technology when it offers convenience. For brands, voice-powered marketing and ecommerce strategies, including promotions, fundraising and targeted advertising are likely to play a major part in future digital marketing campaigns and technology strategies.
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