Does Your Brand Connect The Dots?

Are we seeing the bigger picture?

There are three disruptive technologies that are emerging. Candidly, there are many more. Candidly, they may have already disrupted our society, but they have yet to impact brands and marketing. That will soon change. The big winner at CES this year was Amazon’s Alexa technology. In short: voice. Voice as navigation. Voice as control. Voice as search. Voice as OS (operating system). However you slice it, the implications of consumers using their voice to connect, create and share content changes the playing field, as we have seen it to date. Have you read the news? In October of last year, MediaPost published the article, Gartner Predicts 30% Of Searches Without A Screen In 4 Years. The news item says:

“About 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020. Technology such as Google Assistant for Home, Amazon Alexa for Echo, chatbots and software development kits from Microsoft, Soundhound and others will make this possible. The Gartner predictions, released Tuesday for 2017 and beyond, show a fundamental shift in the way consumers will find information. The trends examine three fundamental effects of digital innovation: experience and engagement, business innovation, and the secondary effects that result from increased digital capabilities.”

Will it surprise you that, according to Business Insider, Amazon is flirting with paid search on Alexa? This has massive impact on many areas of what we consider smart marketing. Ultimately, the impact on ad dollars (from spend to strategy to creative) is going to be pervasive. While voice seems like a far-away marketing challenge, it is happening at a faster click than most realize. Searching and getting information (content, etc….) without a screen is going to become commonplace. No longer trying to figure out which keywords and text will get people to click, but rather how to buy media and engage against voice-initiated searches will create an entirely new industry in marketing.

Chatbots are becoming foundational to a brand’s marketing strategy.

If voice isn’t on your list of marketing “must-haves,” maybe you’re thinking about chatbots? Matt Schlicht over at Chatbots Magazine may have a vested interest in seeing chatbots hit the mainstream, but his alarmistly-titled article, How Bots Will Completely Kill Websites and Mobile Apps, makes several valid points. In short, messaging apps are growing at unheard of pace. Currently, messaging apps are being used more than social media. Facebook Messenger has over one billion users, and it is growing faster than Facebook. “If messaging apps become the #1 way people communicate, then every business is going to need a way to engage on these platforms,” Matt writes… and, he’s right. If messaging apps are where consumers are spending their times, brands will deploy chatbots as a form of customer service, sales and marketing. This is happening already in more mature messenger app markets (Google Line’s app in Asia to see countless examples of how many brands live and breathe with chatbots in these apps… and how much money users are spending in-app).

The Internet of Things is coming with unprecedented speed and force.

If it plugs into a wall, it should be connected. Correction: if it plugs into a wall, it should all be inter-connected. Correction: it doesn’t even have to be plugged into a wall… anything can (and will) be inter-connected. Big stuff (like cars) to small stuff (like a glass in your kitchen). Information will flow from it, connected to other devices and powered/controlled by you (and your smartphone, for now). The ramifications here are dramatic, as it changes the economic landscape of our physical world. Self-driving cars are big connected devices. This impacts everything from logistics and the automative industry to Uber and your efficiency in (and outside) of the office. The devices that are/will be connected will be in the billions… and growing. It’s no longer a computer, tablet or smartphone that will be the gateway to connectivity. It will be everything.

Bring it all together.

This is, truly, what brands need to think about. Sadly, we tend to look at these massive technology disruptions in isolation. We should not. We tend to think about them in terms of our brand innovation labs, instead of core changes to how we do operate our business. Chatbots will, increasingly, rely less and less on text and more and more driven by voice. Voice is currently the core to massive adoption of the Internet of Things. 25 Million More Voice Assistants Coming This Year; Amazon, Google Dominate, says IOT Daily via MediaPost yesterday. More and more of our connected devices will daisy chain to the voice assistant technologies as well. There is something profoundly powerful, as you see how these three, independent shifts (voice, chatbots and the Internet of Things), will merge, intersect and change the dynamics of how people, shop, buy and connect with brands.

Three become one. One of the biggest challenges that brands will face this year… and moving forward… if we can just connect the dots.

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — a global digital marketing agency operating in close to 20 countries. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his successful blog and podcast is a business and marketing bestseller. His second book, CTRL ALT Delete, was named one of the best business books of 2013 by Amazon. Learn more at: www.mitchjoel.com.

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