Does Voice Recognition Technology Pose a Threat to Advertisers?

“Alexa, what’s the latest threat to advertisers?” Ironically, the answer is voice recognition technology. Now that home speaker hubs, televisions, and of course, smartphones are equipped with applications that handle voice commands, it is becoming quite routine for people to dictate messages and conduct online searches via voice. That means voice is not only the new user interface, but it is also the latest source of revenue for brands and businesses. Beyond asking for directions and cuing the lights, people are using voice commands to make purchases. In fact, according to recent data from Invoca, 73% of consumers have used voice assistant to make purchases directly through their device.

The Side Effects of Voice Technology

The side effect of all this virtual assisting, is simple: the real estate available to advertisers will shrink dramatically, not to mention, according to a recent research done by Backlinko, the average voice search results in just 4.6 seconds. This is 52% faster than the average internet page load. Although a business could insert a sponsored suggestion into a voice assistant’s response, there will still never be the opportunity to offer as many ads as a Google search results page. Analysts are intrigued and want to know more about, particularly with brands like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, and others competing to become the most intelligent assistant available.

Monetizing Search in a Voice World

We are still in the very early days of this type of technology, yet possibilities to monetize are still springing into light. For instance, a brand could integrate third parties into their advertising. This concept will surely evolve in the coming years. Essentially, instead of skewing and reducing commercial activity, voice search will provide an additional way for people to interact with Google. Analysts are telling advertisers not to fret and instead, get excited over the fact that voice essentially expanded the pie.

When Backlinko recently analyzed 10,000 Google Home users and investigated the role of 11 potential factors on voice assistant search, they discovered some amazing results that any brand, business, and advertiser would find fascinating including:

●   A voice search result is typically less than 30 words, meaning Google prefers the shortest, most concise answers to all voice search queries.
●    Interestingly enough, the content from voice search SEO is written at a 9th grade reading level.
●    The content in which there are higher levels of social engagement perform the best in voice search. To put it in perspective, average voice search results have 44 tweets and 1,199 Facebook shares
●   Few voice search results had the exact query in their title tag. Therefore, developing individual pages for every voice search would not appear to be an effective nor efficient voice search SEO strategy.
●   Voice search result pages have an average word count of 2,312 words. SEO can play a big role here since it appears as though Google tends to source long form content for the answers to voice search inquiries.
●   HTTPS websites top Google’s voice search results with 70.4% of Google Home results being secured HTTPS pages.
●   Content ranking high in desktop search is more likely to appear as a voice search result with the top 3 ranking for that inquiry approximately 75% of voice search answers.

Legacy Media Businesses are Typically the Most Vulnerable

Even though virtual assistants may have expanded opportunities for advertisers, legacy media businesses are typically slow to adapt and are often the most vulnerable when it comes to new media tech. After all, the newspaper business is still struggling to adapt to the internet. Some newspapers have shut down completely while new digital organizations have grown and flourished in an arena once solely occupied by paper products. Similarly, cable companies and television businesses have had to adapt against the fierce fight in on-demand and internet services.

Screen-Based Search in a Legacy of its Own

Whether advertisers want to accept it or not, fairly soon, screen-based search will be under the same umbrella as screen-based searches. Of course, that is exactly the kind of upset that new tech startups seek out to disrupt. So, depending on your perspective, the upset may not be such a bad thing, especially for the tech industry.

Google Already has Their Head in the Game

Before voice search was even a thought, four years ago Google was worried they might have an issue with people doing more of their searches on mobile instead of at their desktops. They stepped up to the challenge and still dominate the search engine category. So there’s no doubt they are already thinking about how to stay king while dominating voice search as well.

So while the answer to the question at hand is still being analyzed, research is showing that the threat is not as big as it may seem. It simply means change is ahead for the way businesses advertise online and the businesses that can be the most flexible will continue to stay ahead of the competition. This is nothing new, after all, in a tech-focused world, businesses should know they should never get comfortable in any given platform because opportunities in media are always expanding.

CPG Marketing and Amazon

The consumer brands market is changing, and it’s no surprise that Amazon is connecting with consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers in an effort to jump on the revolution. While brands such as Proctor & Gamble have already sought to drive sales through subscription programs like Tide Wash Club and Unilever jumping on the bandwagon as well with Dollar Shave Club, CPG brands are looking to Amazon as a window to bypass retailers and sell directly to consumers. The way Amazon sees it,
supply chains offering direct-to-consumer business can improve the overall customer experience and global efficiency.

So how does a CPG brand make Amazon work for them? The following are a few ways that companies can benefit from an Amazon strategy.

Changing the Approach in a Changing Market

While the concept may still be hard to grasp, particularly for those brands who, up to this point have seen success in brick-and-mortar retail stores, the truth is, about half of all growth in the US market will be from online sales. CPG brands should plan that in the next five years 1% -2% retail saturation will most likely expand to 5%, but could easily escalate to 10% or more depending on geography and products. The data is clear, CPG brands can no longer depend on the same tactics they’ve used for decades. Now, they need to consider what it takes to win in digital during this critical period of overall growth. An effective digital strategy includes addressing Amazon, the biggest US online store.

The Amazon Difference

Amazon is clearly different. With their ambitious business model, advertising, and interaction with companies and customers, they depart from the typical brick-and-mortar mindset that so many CPG companies are familiar. In essence, Amazon’s goal is different, it wants to be the go-to destination for consumers for everything, and in turn, growing their share of the household budget. Because of this, Amazon typically looks at their success based on the perspective of total household spending, rather than just one particular product. This is very different from what CPG companies are used to as they generally don’t look at things from that perspective nor do they operate on those terms.

The Amazon business model is different as well. Amazon is constantly trying new things, testing new models and completely unafraid to fail. Most CPG brands are not as flexible and are much more cautious in their endeavors.

So, in order for CPG brands to succeed, they need to keep in mind Amazon’s overall goal: to gain the greatest share of household spending. This means, evolving to adopt Amazon-optimized product designs, minimizing negative returns, actively managing inventory, and adapting supply chains to avoid being out of stock, and so much more. Those companies that evolve with the Amazon revolution and invest time and resources to succeed, most likely will. Those that balk at the extra work and refuse to invest in the channel will easily be left in the dust by the competition.

CPG Marketing for Amazon

Beyond adjusting their system to send a bulk of their products to the Amazon fulfillment warehouses, CPG companies need to re-think their marketing strategies for Amazon, too.

For many companies, this means creating different pack sizes or slightly different volume options, which can make it harder to make direct comparisons. Offering unique packaging, dropping prices slightly, and managing overall channel conflict – including pricing – are all part of successful marketing tactics that CPG brands can utilize for Amazon success. Additionally, brands can work to become a preferred partner, by building dedicated vendor relationship. Premium partners are at the top tier of Amazon partnerships and are typically large manufacturers marketing national or even global brands. CPG brands wishing to further gain credibility with Amazon should participate in Prime Now, AmazonFresh, and other “click and collect” options. The more ambitions the CPG brand, the more intriguing it is to Amazon.

While the CPG industry is more complicated than ever, CPG brands that are willing to keep up and be present in digital channels, will be among the most successful. Making the investment to learn how to “play the game” is essential to maintain sales and grow as a brand.

Facebook Clarifies Ad Metrics

From reaction emojis to newsfeeds, it feels like Facebook is always offering upgrades and changes to the site. Just recently, the social network announced that it plans to update its Ads Manager.

This is great news for frustrated brands who have had nothing but bad luck trying to interpret the metrics. Facebook says the renovation will remove approximately 20 metrics that are “unhelpful,” while labeling some metrics as “estimated” or “in development.” This new reporting system will appear in tool tips within the reporting table as well as in the customize column sector for ads running in all sectors of Facebook, including Instagram and the Facebook Audience Network.

So what do these new terms mean and, more importantly, what do they mean for your brand? How does this change reporting and allow us to interpret the data we get from our ads? Read further to discern what these big changes mean.

Defining “Estimated Metrics”

According to the new system, estimated metrics will be those based on modeling or sampling. Facebook implies that these can aid in defining outcomes that are too difficult to accurately quantify.

In essence, reach is an estimate of Facebook users who saw the ad one or more times. When reporting reach, the metrics of the number of people who saw an ad multiple times are analyzed. Those numbers are then de-duplicated and calculated with the total number of unique views in real-time. Because this needs to be done quickly, the data is sampled and therefore labeled as “estimated.” Ads on TV and across other digital platforms are also calculated in this fashion.

Defining “In Development”

As the name suggests, when metrics are labeled as “in development,” they are either being tested or new. For instance, brands can use this metric to understand the difference between users who can recall a brand after seeing an ad compared to those who have not actually seen the ad at all. Automated measurements such as these are new and therefore require both machine learning and polling.

More often than not, when sampling is used to determine a metric, it will be labeled as estimated, but when advertiser feedback is still being gathered, it will be labeled as “in development.”

Removal of 20+ Ad Metrics

Brands who regularly use Facebook for advertising are probably well aware that some of the metrics weren’t very helpful. For that reason, over 20 ad metrics previously included in Facebook ad data, will be removed in July. Marketers have recognized these metrics as not actionable, infrequently used, outdated, and/or redundant.

One of those metrics on the chopping block is Button Clicks. For those unfamiliar, Button Clicks metrics show the number of times Facebook users click on the call-to-action button on your ad. Yet, reporting Button Clicks is redundant since these clicks are reported in the Links Clicks or other metric such as Event Responses and Offers Saved.

Measurement Training

If you’re still feeling left in the dark when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of Facebook ads, you’re not alone. Facebook knows that this stuff is pretty complicated, which is why they are launching a program called “Measure What Matters” in less than a week. This program offered on the Facebook Business site and Facebook Live, will cover branding oriented campaigns as well as measurement for direct response campaigns.

While advertisers are used to working with estimates, there’s no doubt that the level of uncertainty in Facebook ad analytics has been way too vague for far too long. With Facebook now explicitly pointing out which metrics are an estimate, which are in development, and which are both, advertisers can get a better handle on the success of their advertising efforts. Hopefully making these tweaks will increase advertisers’ confidence and restore faith in Facebook’s numbers.