If your first thought when hearing of Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home was, “How can my brand be a part of this?”, you’re not alone. Technology is expanding and improving at a rapid clip, and no one wants to be left behind.

Much like the adoption of social media or mobile phone apps, voice-activated technology (VAT) is producing three tiers of responses: Full-on early adoption, cautious toe-dipping or skeptical reticence.

But like any new technology, the most successful brands will employ a healthy mix of all three approaches.

And as the Managing Director of Mindshare America puts it, you can’t be “sidetracked by the short-term wins that come with [VAT] custom skills and light-touch activations. They’re an important step, but not the end game.”

So why exactly are brands and marketers so excited about VAT? There are three main avenues by which it’s breaking new ground, each with their own set of rewards and challenges.


As reported by iHeartRadio, 38% of all US Amazon Echo owners made a purchase with their smart speaker within the last 30 days.

Think about how many walls that process removes between a consumer and their purchase. Unlike traditional e-commerce, there are no product pages to wade through; there are no carts to fill or abandon; there are no checkout screens that require lengthy input forms.

Using the most natural form of communication we have—our voice—you can re-up on popcorn and rent tonight’s movie in only a few seconds.

Of course, this presents a challenge for brands in a crowded space: How do you remember to specify Charmin when most of us will simply say, “I need to buy some toilet paper”? To grapple with that confusion, brands will need to begin carving out “audio niches” for themselves in a similar way that logos create distinction in a visual space.

Like any new technology, the most successful brands will employ a healthy mix of early adoption, cautious toe-dipping and skeptical reticence.

This is also an opportunity for brands to partner with the technology makers directly at an early stage, wherein Toll House might be able to position itself as the default “cookie” order when using Google Home.

The playing field is still relatively sparse in many of these scenarios, so brands have the opportunity to act quickly and own those spaces (much like the most agile companies were able to dominate the App Store listings early on).

The challenge here is that most brands are not Toll House and are unable to lean on marketing budgets provided by their parent company Nestlé. However, we’ve noticed opportunities sprouting at the local level, too, that allow companies to incorporate themselves into the VAT space.


Our Integrated Media Director, Lesley Thompson, was recently pitched the ability to sponsor select “skills” (the VAT equivalent of an app) within local markets through one of our media partners. Using these spots, a local deli could append itself and a brief marketing message to a user’s “Flash Briefing” (a morning news run-down), much in the same way they might with a local radio spot.

The difference here, though, is that your message isn’t limited to the “every hour on the hour” timing that constricts a radio spot—potential customers would literally hear your message whenever it was most convenient for them to check the news of the day.

Another tremendous benefit to VAT advertising is the diversity of placement: because the technology integrates to our homes, our cars and our phones, those branded spots will likely have high reach potential. And as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, incorporating our thermostats, refrigerators and doorbells, so does advertising placement opportunity.


According to Google, nearly 20% of all searches are voice-activated. So while SEO pros and amateurs alike are working diligently to keep their content optimized for written keywords and phrases, nearly one quarter of all results are returned through voice commands.

Digital assistants like Google Home or Apple’s Siri are becoming more integrated into our everyday routines, which means that Google’s 20% metric is only going to rise. Marketers will have to begin optimizing content based on the way we speak-rather than how we type.

Machine-learning and AI will help push this technology forward, improving the landscape to where they will understand not only “what is said but the way it is said,” according to Voices.com VP Kirby. “Tonal inflection and all the other characteristics that add meaning to the spoken word will become part of the process of comprehension.”

Voice Activated Technology stats

So how have SEO experts already started grappling with this changing landscape? By understanding certain key aspects of voice search, such as the fact that it more often than not occurs on a mobile device and is location-specific (“Where can I get tacos around here?”).

They’ll also begin integrating the notion of conversational keywords that mimic the way we talk to one another. For example, Search Engine Land describes the difference between typing “Best digital camera” into Google and asking, “Alexa, where can I get the best camera for Facebook streaming?”

We love geeking out about the latest technologies and innovations. Want to chat about how we can leverage them to help your business?

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