Smart speakers made a splash in the tech industry this year. An estimated 56.3 million smart speakers will be sold by the end of 2018, and they're actively changing how people worldwide consume news, find information, and plan their days.
There's no doubt these speakers will have a huge impact on digital marketing too. As consumers get their news through these devices, we will see more ads pop up and other ways for brands to use smart speakers as marketing tools.
In this article, we'll discuss the current state of smart speaker marketing and predictions on where we expect it to go in the future. Use this as a resource to guide your future marketing plans and stay ahead of the curve.
What's the current state of smart speaker marketing?
Smart speaker marketing in 2018 is lackluster to say the least.
Currently, most smart speaker platforms severely limit what ads can be placed on their products. Take Amazon Alexa for example: ads aren't allowed unless its inside a podcast, music, or Flash Briefing Skill. However, brands are allowed to make Skills that promote their product or service.
Google Home has taken ads a different direction. Last year it briefly integrated an ad for Disney's Beauty and The Beast remake into all Google Home daily schedules. After reading off commute and calendar info, it ran an ad for the movie on the day it was first shown in theaters. See the example above.
The strange thing about Google Home ads is that we cannot find pricing information anywhere online. Additionally, there haven't been any other Google Home ads since the Beauty and The Beast, so we're unsure if these ads will appear again.
Like Alexa, developers can put ads in certain Google Home apps and make their own branded apps.
So how can I embrace smart speaker marketing in 2019?
Even though the functionality is limited, there are a couple of ways to market your business through smart speakers. Here's two ways your business can embrace smart speaker marketing in 2019.
Make branded skills and apps
This is by far the most popular way to advertise on smart speakers. In short, create a branded Alexa Skill or Google Home app that's related to your brand or industry and provide a useful service.
We've seen a few awesome examples of this pop up over the past year. For example, tequila brand Patròn created a Skill called Ask Patròn in 2016. Using this skill, you can tell Alexa to "ask Patròn for a cocktail recipe." Then, you'll be presented with a list of cocktails, many of which incorporate Patròn tequila.
This is useful for two reasons: one, Patròn's audience has to remember to say their name when looking for a cocktail recipe. Two, the brand can push its name when naming off recipe ingredients. Users can even buy a bottle of Patròn from one of Amazon's local alcohol distributors directly from the Skill.
The Skill is performing well for Patròn too. The tequila company gets over 6,000 sessions a month on its skill and has a massive 36,000 users.
Buy ads on news sources, music streaming sites, and podcasts
Flash Briefing on Alexa is an increasingly popular way to get the morning news, weather, and other day-to-day information. Essentially, users can pick news sources, podcasts, and other Skills that they want their Alexa to play when asked "Alexa, what's my flash briefing?"
For example, someone may have their Flash Briefing play the local weather, their favorite news source, and then their favorite podcast.
Your brand can purchase ad space on Alexa versions of podcasts, news sources, and music streaming services that integrate with Flash Briefing. This gets your content in front of your target audience daily, so make sure you purchase ads on podcasts and news sources that best fit your niche.
Do note, however, that these ad deals must be worked out directly with the publisher. Amazon and Google Home do not yet have their ad own ad programs for smart speakers.
Where will smart speaker advertising go in the future?
It goes without saying that smart speakers will only get more popular over the coming years. And with that, smart speaker manufacturers and app developers will need to find ways to monetize them.
With that in mind, we expect Amazon, Google, Apple, and other smart speaker manufacturers to launch their own audio ad services in the near future. These may allow businesses to buy ads that appear in third-party apps, audio content, and more. Think of it as Google Adwords for smart speakers.
This will be extremely useful for businesses as it will create a centralized hub for buying ads on smart speakers. We're hoping to see this feature added in the next year or two.
Your company should start planning for smart speaker ads now.
Your business may want to trial ads on podcasts and other Flash Briefing content first to find what content works and doesn't work for your brand. Then, your company will be armed with useful information for when an official ad platform launches in the near future, letting you be first to market with great smart speaker ads.
Now, plan for your smart speaker marketing future
As you can see, smart speakers have a bright future ahead. And while their advertising abilities are limited now, we expect them to quickly become a more important part of digital marketing strategy. Let us know what you think of smart speaker marketing on Twitter.
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