Brands: Pay attention. Smart audio is the “what’s next?” (and it’s happening now).
In case you were not paying attention over this past holiday season, here are some data points to consider:
- According to Amazon people bought “millions more” of Amazon’s smart audio-enabled devices compared to last year. The top sellers? The new Echo Dot Speaker and the new Alexa-enabled Fire TV Stick.
- The result of this? Amazon’s Alexa crashed on Christmas Day as consumers tried to get connected.
- This makes it the third year in a row that Amazon’s Echo Dot was the bestselling product on Amazon.
- Amazon’s smart speakers were selling out in various countries prior to the holiday shopping season.
- The Alexa app also topped the app charts for both iOS and Google Play. The Google Home app also held a dominant spot on the charts.
- Customers used Alexa to listen to hundreds of millions more hours of music this holiday season compared to last holiday season.
Smart audio did better than most expected… and most expected it to be big.
When consumers speak to these devices, is your brand present? This is going to be the persistent question that we see in marketing over the course of the next few years. Brands will do the standard nod to this new way to connect (they will dip their toes in, and how warm the water is), but the bigger strategy around building a unique brand voice strategy. What will brands fill it with? How quality (and usable) will the content be? Of course, this will take some time (my prediction… as a market of one). The best frame of reference we have for this moment in time, is the early days of the Internet when brands were hesitant to build a website and even more resistant to optimizing it for search findability.
Matters of smart audio are pressing.
With million of smart audio-enabled devices currently in homes (and still flooding the market), consumers are asking these assistants a million and one questions. Some may be about the brand, specifically. Some may be about the industry that the brand serves. Some may be about issues that they’re having (that the brand solves for). Are brands present? Are they understanding the need to present? Are they understanding that because of smart audio’s size and how uncoupled it is becoming from one, specific, platform (it’s available on smart speakers, connected appliances, smartphones, in the car, and beyond) that people are asking these devices for information from anywhere and everywhere? Are brands understanding that because of smart audio’s massive growth, consumers are trying to push it to the limits by asking it many (and more complex) questions just to see how much smart audio knows?
Be where the people are.
When it comes to media, this is how brands operate. It’s why Google and Facebook grew so quickly as advertising platforms. With millions (then billions) of people connecting and using these platforms, brands had to figure out how to become a part of that. Brands need to be (and spend) where the consumers are. This is why media spending has shifted so dramatically over the past decade. Smart audio is that “next” (and it’s happening now). Brands are (somewhat) flat-footed here. These smart audio enabled devices have now swarmed consumers, and brands should be scrambling to be present in those moments. Some are. Most aren’t. If your brand could go back in time and understand the power of websites and search engines and social networks, would marketing have bene done differently? Most brands would agree that they were slow to adopt/spend and – of given the chance – would have done (almost) everything differently.
Smart audio is your second chance to get it right.