Can you imagine a time where you leave your home without your cell phone?
Before you call me crazy, remember that not too long ago, very few people could imagine a world in which the home phone was not connected to the wall with a cord. It simply wasn’t realistic or useful. The cord on the phone was the pinnacle of technology, anything beyond that was just technology for innovation’s sake.
Yet just a few years later, we can’t imagine our world without the cordless phone, and the same trends surround voice technology today.
Research from Gartner reveals that, by the end of this decade, at least 30% of human-computer interaction will be screenless. This is a shift that will fundamentally rewire the way we think about marketing and the world around us over the next several years.
As technology evolves and non-digital devices incorporate internet capabilities, human-computer interaction will be increasingly activated by voice or location. These factors are contributing to a new digital landscape known as a ‘post-phone’ world.
This transition is coming at whiplash speed. Product developers and brand marketers need to start preparing for the next evolution in how they reach their customers.
If you’re not preparing today for the ‘post-phone’ world voice technology of tomorrow, you’ve already lost. I’m not saying that we’re going to trade in our smartphones for Alexas tomorrow, but that day is not far off.
The question is not if voice tech like Siri, Alexa, Google, or others will become the default for our interface with the internet, the question is when.
Voice search and artificial intelligence have arrived in force, and they’re putting marketers in the precarious position of being well behind the times.
Voice search and artificial intelligence don’t just change the way customers interact with the internet, or with each other. They change the way companies are able to reach their consumers, and how those consumers perceive the market.
Advertising has historically been about directing messages at customer demographics while hoping it reaches the right person — framing a product and its brand. But the next phase of the post-phone revolution will require a whole new approach to marketing.
The future of marketing is “Marketing as a Service.”
It’s about providing marketing that services the customer instead of messaging at them. The future of marketing will be all about delivering relevant, useful and assistive experiences.
An example of this is with modern tools like Alexa, Echo, HomePod and Siri. Our devices are turning into marketing services that can do and buy things for us. If you run out of paper towels, you can tell Alexa to buy paper towels on Amazon. If you want to order an Uber, you can ask Siri to get one for you.
That is the future of marketing — not only knowing the moment of need for consumers but actually servicing that moment of need for them.
The post-screen revolution changes the game of advertising away from ambushing the customer, or invading their social feeds. In order to remain relevant, the products of the future must be seen as a value-add of the consumer’s voice/audio experience. They will ask their voice-enabled device for the best product in a category, what most people use, or (more likely) ask what so-and-so recommends.
With voice technology, consumers are given more choice over what content is presented to them, they will have more control over what they see, hear, and consume. Anything that is not perceived as adding value to their lives will be cut out entirely. The consumer’s life is filled with companies competing for their attention, hundreds of different options they can choose, and the ones that provide the most value are the ones that get chosen. How can you make your message a value-add to their lives while still getting your message across?
That is the question that will make the difference between those who are disrupted by voice technology, and those who are doing the disrupting.
The disruptions will shift marketing away from communications and advertising, and toward the design of experiences. We are seeing the renaissance of marketing along with the steady decline of interruptive advertising.
If you don’t believe me, just go check out the steadily declining (and disappointing) revenues being reported by Publicis or Omnicom Groups — two of the biggest global agencies.
Anticipating digital disruption — whether it happens this year or next — means preparing for the future, and potentially discovering new ways of cutting through the noise to deliver impactful and authentic experiences to customers.
As with evolution itself, the ones able to adapt to changing conditions are more likely to survive. The CMOs who are prepared for this shift will be the ones whose brands win the biggest market share.
Unlike television, the voice “channels” into a customer’s home (Alexa, Siri, Google Home, etc) are not passive instruments like TVs or radio. These companies have a vested interest in providing not only the best value to their clients, but to themselves, since the solutions they offer to consumers’ problems reflect as much on them as on your company.
Voice is the future, and that shouldn’t be surprising. Put it into perspective for a minute. People can speak 150 words per minute compared to typing only 40, and speaking is a much more natural way for us to interact with our surroundings.
In the future, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana will decide what news we hear and what products we buy. They’ll essentially replace every function for which we use screens today. So in the future, when you ask Alexa about the best way to build a brand, she will tell you, “According to Ron Gibori…”