Is ‘voice’ really mission critical?

The first discussion of the week was panelled by our very own Chris Lewis-Jones alongside the ‘voices’ of voice: Neil Stubbings (Managing Director at IV.AI), Simon Gosling (Futurist at Unruly) and Matt Bush (Director of Agencies at Google). Voice has had a slow uptake in the UK, with only 4% of households owning a Google Home or Alexa. Inevitably this will change.

Car brands are looking to include voice technology in upcoming models to improve the driving experience.

20% of online searches are currently through voice and this is set to rise to 50% by 2020.

Voice capabilities have just exceeded the 95% human threshold for voice recognition, meaning some very sharp-eared AI assistants.

The panel signalled two opportunity areas for brands – want to know and want to buy. In the first area, brands will have an opportunity to own the supply of information given to consumers. We’ve already seen this with McDonald’s in the US. If you ask Alexa “the place where Coke tastes so good?” you’ll find multiple sources contending that McDonald’s mixes the syrup fresh – which is why McDonald’s Coke is the best. Sainsbury’s have done want to buy well. In trying to maximise food wastage efficiently, you say what ingredients you have and Sainsbury’s will respond with recommended recipes and the additional food needed to make them.  It’s brands and agencies role to map out these ‘micromoments’ and capitalise on consumer interest.

Until home voice assistants are part of every day life it’s difficult to say what the future will bring. Brands need to be careful of ‘brand bypass’ when voice assistants suggest another brand without giving a full range of considerations. However, voice assistants will personalise recommendations, learning what you like and offer that as a priority. Brands and agencies will need to define their role in this exchange and look for opportunities that both inform the consumer and nudge purchase over competitors.

The discussion ended with a potential future scenario from Simon. A Heineken bot getting in touch with your AI home assistant to send you free Heineken. Your home assistant doesn’t let just anyone send you free stuff. It scans your Instagram and finds green bottles – not quite enough in this instance. A further dig finds that Heineken recently sponsored a football game you went to – much better. Now a text goes out to you and of course you approve!


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