A new opportunity for smart speakers?

Two or three years ago, lots of people in marketing were looking at the rapid uptake of smart speakers and wondering how to take advantage of this exciting new channel. While the public have come to love these devices, the marketing opportunities they’ve provided have been next to zero. Mine has become a daily household essential, from “play some jazz” and “turn on the TV” to “tell Ocado to add washing up liquid”. To think that there was a time where I had to rummage around for three different remote controls in order to watch the news on TV! I guess Ocado gets a few items ordered that I’d otherwise have forgotten, but that’s about all the commercial benefit my smart speaker gives anyone.

It appears that some people do ask their smart speakers to answer questions, but these aren’t usually commerce-related, and certainly not worth justifying studying up on ‘Voice Search Optimization’, which was a Thing for a while.

This article suggests that smart speakers are a bit more like smart watches than smartphones – a useful device, but not a compelling marketing channel. The author says that without a commercial push behind them, their development has stagnated, and sees one hope for their development at the moment, writing: “The COVID crisis offers a new and more urgent opportunity to experiment and innovate. Retail, restaurants and hotel environments, for example, will require associates to minimize close interaction and offer contactless payments, as well as other “vicarious” or virtual services (e.g., concierge). Smart speakers (and smart displays) were tailor made for this moment. I’m hopeful that someone will seize it and create applications that are truly ingenious and useful — for marketers and consumers alike.“