A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Category Archives: Marketing Use

April 8, 2021

Wikipedia to Start Charging Voice Assistants for Data Access

Here’s the intro from this voicebot.ai article:

Voice assistants may soon need to pay Wikipedia to find answers to some of the questions users pose. The Wikimedia Foundation, the umbrella organization that encompasses Wikipedia and its sibling wiki-projects, is launching Wikimedia Enterprise to start packaging and selling Wikipedia’s content to Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, including their respective voice assistants, as first reported by Wired.

November 23, 2020

Nearly Half of Consumers Want Voice in Their Apps

Here’s the intro from this Voicebot article:

Voicebot’s biannual Smartphone Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report considered new questions in 2020 around consumer interest in and experience with voice interaction within mobile apps. A key finding is that consumers have strong interest in voice interactivity within mobile apps and more experience with these features than many people realize. Just over 45% of consumers said they would “very much” or that “it would be nice” to have voice assistant features within their favorite mobile apps. This figure compares to just 25% that said they were not interested.

October 6, 2020

WalMart Launches Own Voice Assistant (For Employees Initially)

Here’s the intro from this TechCrunch story:

Walmart is expanding its use of voice technology. The company announced today its taking its employee assistance voice technology dubbed “Ask Sam” and making it available to associates at over 5,000 Walmart stores nationwide. The tool allows Walmart employees to look up prices, access store maps, find products, view sales information, check email and more. In recent months, Ask Sam has also been used to access COVID-19 information, including the latest guidelines, guidance and safety videos.

Ask Sam was initially developed for use in Walmart-owned Sam’s Club stores, where it rolled out across the U.S. in 2019. Because of its use of voice tech, Ask Sam can speed up the time it takes to get to information versus typing a query on the small screen. This allows employees to better engage with customers instead of spending time on their device looking for information.

July 29, 2020

How Artificial Intelligence Can Boost Marketing Efforts

This Forbes article is about artificial intelligence, not voice – but I found it compelling. And a little bit scary. Anytime I read about how you can so easily manipulate the content in videos – the “deep fake” – it frightens me. Although I guess that should be the least of my worries these days. Here’s the ending from the piece:

These examples show that artificial intelligence, when used creatively, can do more than the grunt work. It is a way to build relationships with customers on a personal level while at the same time scaling at large in a cost-effective way. It’s important to go beyond equating AI to only chatbots and have conversations around how AI can actually work in service of brands and, in turn, be used to better their customer’s experience.

We should continue to have meaningful discussions around deepfakes and setting up safeguards and ethics around synthetic media. But, we must also move the conversation beyond just focusing on that element of synthetic media. It’s also time for brands and businesses to better understand the broader trends that are on the horizon, so they are prepared for the future of marketing to come.

May 7, 2020

Using Audioburst to Conduct Voice Searches of Podcasts & Talk Radio

This Voicebot.ai podcast provides ten short interviews from the CES conference. At the 4:28 mark, Bret Kinsella talks to Audioburst’s Gal Klein. Audioburst helps with the discovery problem inherent in audio by extracting the relevant bits from podcasts and talk radio in response to what you’re looking for. This TechCrunch article helps to explain how that works (as well as Bret’s interview with Gal).

March 19, 2020

The NFL’s Push Into Voice

In this podcast, Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella talks with NFL Labs’ Ian Campbell and Bondad.fm’s John Gillilan about how the NFL has embraced voice. The topics included:

– Goal is engaging with fans on multiple channels since fan expectations are higher nowadays as many are tech savvy.
– The NFL’s partners also expect more and the benefit to the NFL is additional product integration opportunities.
– Started with a lot of small prototypes in voice. Started with an Alexa Skill (‘Rookie’s Guide to the NFL’) last offseason. The skill teaches new fans the rules, including an international audience (games now played in London and Mexico City). Most of their voice endeavors so far have been on Alexa, but they do have some content on the Google Assistant too.
– You need to rethink your content for a voice platform. Can’t write for voice in a vacuum, you need to hear how it sounds – so how you spell things matters as its part of your personality, what type of music behind the voice matters, etc. So it’s more than just scripting.
– Voice brings a lot of truths to your content. For example, for the ‘Rookie’s Guide” skill, they had to consider how to explain the jargon and commentary that accompanies the rules. There is a unique language & nomenclature exists for every industry.
– So far, the NFL has done four types of Flash Briefings: Definitions, News, Editorials, Quizzes, Games & Storytelling.
– Used both synthetic Polly voice (the one offered by Amazon called “Matthew”) and a real player (Maurice Jones-Drew) and a sportscaster (Cole Wright). They are looking at VocalID’s service too. They have tried proto personas to see what works – and if it works, they build on that.
– They tried an avatar of ‘Football Frank,’ which used the Polly voice of Matthew.
– They spend a lot of time trying to help fans get back on track if they make a request that “fails” – they do that with some humor to lessen the blow of a failure.
– They have a multimodal project that is just internal now. They use a ‘hear, see, do’ principle to try to adjust to the differences from voice-only to a screen addition.

March 12, 2020

Being Bearish on Brands Building Their Own Voice Assistants

The past few days I’ve been blogging about this podcast, in which Voicebot.ai’s Bret Kinsella talks with John Kelvie from Bespoken about how “domains” will replace voice apps. I wanted to offer one last excerpt from John’s blog, pulled from the bottom about how companies that are building their own voice assistants might be better served doing something else:

The devices in column one are inevitable and in some cases are already essential. Column two? Many may seem silly but some nonetheless will prove indispensable.

And these are JUST the devices with voice-capabilities embedded – the march of voice continues to be the march of IoT. Voice is our point of control for the ubiquitous computing power that exists around us. If you imagine a world in which the average cell phone owner has just ONE of each of the above items, the coming wave of voice-enabled devices looks like a tsunami. And if you factor in the devices under their control (thermostats, lights, power switches, appliances, etc.), it becomes even more staggering.

And the very good news is third parties have a huge role to play – the big guys need to provide the platforms and the device access, but they cannot do all the fulfillment. The future of the ecosystem is everyone playing nicely together in this new query-centric, domain-centric world, in which first and third-parties work together seamlessly.

For the platforms, it’s the chance to employ, at massive scale, the wisdom of the crowd – the wisdom of every brand, app builder, API and website on earth. What an amazing achievement it will be.

For third parties, it’s the opportunity to meet users, wherever they are, whatever they are doing – properly done, they will be just a short trip of the tongue away.

March 10, 2020

The Early Days: How Samsung’s Bixby is Shaping Up

This VoiceFirst.fm podcast hosted by Bradley Metrock with three evangelists from Samsung’s Bixby explores where Bixby is headed. Here are a few nuggets:

1. The ability of Samsung televisions (and other Samsung appliances) to offer voice assistant help can be a differentor down the road. For example, you’re watching a football game and a “clipping” penalty is called. You can ask the TV to explain what “clipping” is – and a graphic will pop up with the explanation.

2. Amazon struggles with discoverability issues since more than 100k skills are now in the library. Google’s challenge is that it only allows a limited number of third-parties to make Actions for its library. For Samsung, you can make a capsule and it will stand out since you’ll be a first-mover since Bixby is relatively new. Like Amazon, Samsung encourages third-parties to contribute capsules.

[For those new to voice, Amazon uses the term “Skill”; Google uses “Action”; and Samsung uses “Capsule” as their way of identifying the same thing – essentially an “app” but these things are played from a voice assistant rather than a mobile phone.]

3. When it comes to privacy, Bixby has the functionality for you to go back and delete any (or all) of your “utterances.” Meaning you can delete anything you asked Bixby to do.

February 10, 2020

Voice Makes a “Super Bowl” Splash

I’m old enough to be permanently burned out about anything related to the Super Bowl. But I did watch it this year – and I saw how voice was featured in more than one ad. Here’s a summary from the “Rain” agency:

Two days out from the Super Bowl, we are at a good distance to analyze voice’s presence during marketing’s biggest night. In our 2020 predictions piece, our first prognostication was that voice would play a large role in cultural moments starting with the Super Bowl. Reviewing the slate of multi-million dollar ads, we see Amazon wanting Alexa to be seen as an everyday utility, Google tugging on heartstrings by highlighting its Assistant “remember” feature (both ads can be seen here), Snickers poking fun at smart speakers’ perceived contribution to the surveillance state and Coca-Cola using voice as a sampling channel for new products.

Although we have yet to see voice-specific CTAs or real-time giveaways take center stage at the Super Bowl, the presence of voice assistants during the big game’s commercials show how ingrained in culture they have become.