A Look at Voice: The Importance of Planning for Smart Displays

One of the most common questions we hear is “what does iProspect think about Voice?” We’ve been watching this space since its inception and we’re excited about the changes coming in the future. We’ve heard you loud and clear on this topic and are sharing what has happened with voice, the changes we see now, and what we are predicting in the future.

Smart Speaker adoption has been incredibly rapid – but is slowing down (kind of!)

It took smart speaker and assistant devices only around five years to reach a US adoption rate of 50%. Only smartphone adoption came close to that rate of growth, reaching 50% in around nine years. While early adoption has certainly been rapid, so was the subsequent slow-down of further penetration in the last year.


Source: Activate Tech

One of the reasons for the possible slow-down is an understanding by both brands and consumers of the various immediate limitations of the smart speaker devices. As numerous studies have shown, consumer use is rather limited with basic actions/commands at the forefront, as the following graph shows.


Source: Marketing Land, Voicebot.ai

While Amazon was certainly the early and ‘long’-time leader in this space, Google has been catching up rapidly with its own line of devices. As noted in a late 2018 study, many Google device owners also note a higher satisfaction with a higher percentage of users utilizing more features and functions, compared with Amazon Alexa devices.


Source: Google Satisfying More than Alexa

Brands and consumers both expect a push for increased and improved commerce potential from devices but beyond the likes of replenishing basics like CPG, purchase potential is somewhat limited without a visual element.

Displays provide a vision of the Smart Device future

While the purchase of Smart Speakers may be slowing, Smart Display device sales have been gaining rapid traction. In one year alone from 2018 to 2019, Smart Display ownership went from 1.3 Million in the US to 8.7 Million, with that number now expected to be significantly higher in the lead up to 2020.

The importance of imagery in aligning to user behavior and expectations – researching and purchasing - is clearly understood by the likes of Google. Both Organic and Paid results have drastically increased in their visual component prominence, whether image or videos appearing higher on the SERP. Written word is no longer enough in connecting to the full consumer journey across platforms or devices. Given that Google also typically feeds the results from their search algorithms and indexed websites into their Smart Devices, brands should expect to see videos and visual results winning on Smart Display devices – alongside the written content in support. Investment in your existing assets (i.e. your website) and in multimodal content is therefore essential in ensuring the highest frequency of connection points with your consumer.

Displays may also pave the way for Paid marketing channels to play

As teased within our recent Digital Performance Report: November 2019 Edition, we expect that with further advancements and focus on Smart Display devices, brands and marketers will have the opportunity to feature among Organic results by utilizing Paid tactics. One of the primary reasons Paid Channels have not been able to tap in to the Smart Speaker space is because of the very singular form of content delivery; brands cannot be an annoying interruption. With Displays however, space will surely be provided, which allows for recommendation-based Paid Engagements much like we see within Search Results today.

How the Smart Device TV will change everything

TVs could effectively be the device to truly bridge the gap between the disparity of digital and instore experiences; Users will not only see the products they’re browsing in real-size formats but also with much more clarity on their HD TVs.

Brands have utilized AI and AR with fitting room and tutorial mirrors. Combine, for example, the added element of cameras and AR sensors on large HD TVs, then you’ll effectively have a digital in-store fitting room experience in every home. Interestingly, Samsung had a TV in 2013 which featured a camera and sensors to allow gesture controls. Expect TVs with cameras to see a return. They’ll also likely have a great deal of AI and AR functionality.

What does this all mean and what can you do today?

Voice might be sexy, but Visual + Voice is even sexier. There are still things brands can do in a singular function to improve their appearance within Voice-only results, but the opportunity will be far greater when combined with Imagery and Video experiences – both paid and organic.

Rather than looking at Voice in isolation, brands should consider their existing methods of content delivery across all digital assets and ask themselves these questions:

  • Do you know what your consumers are looking for and how?
  • Are you answering all your important consumer questions?
  • Are you answering them in multimodal formats that will suit their needs across platform and devices?
  • Are they optimized and easy for your consumers to find?
  • Are your other digital assets (such as your website) set up to answer these questions?
  • How much an already great experience be enhanced by Voice and Visual content/solution delivery?

Some of these starting points will help you assess how ready you are to delve in to Voice and Voice + Visual.