Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, what caught the headlines was a range of voice-controlled devices that suggested the way we interact with our devices will be altered fundamentally.
And there are obvious benefits here for consumer engagement, with in-house assistants like Alexa offering users easy access to publishers’ audio content and encouraging them to build brand loyalty via daily bulletins, breaking news etc.
However, the larger lesson here is surely to do with the rise of voice as a method for controlling our devices, and in particular how the increased consumer knowledge of voice control that Alexa (and others) could stir up might benefit the smartphone most.
GlobalWebIndex’s research has shown that voice search on mobile has already become a popular, if not yet mainstream, activity among internet users. In fact, it’s now around a quarter of online 16-24s who are regularly using voice search tools on their smartphones.
There is certainly the need for the industry to come to grips with the opportunities offered by home assistants but these devices are niche products, and may remain so for some time. The audience that can be reached via voice functionality on smartphones, however, is vast and the publishers that can effectively utilize this channel for user engagement stand to benefit significantly.