VOICE is the newest DRIVER of branded experiences

As new platforms go, voice is making itself heard. Loudly. Voice-enabled units are projected to be in 45 million homes by end of 2017. So the question for brands now, is: if you’re not speaking for your brand, who is?

For brands in the entertainment space and beyond, having a voice strategy and the content to feed it must be a top marketing priority. Voice, like other emerging platforms — Snap, VR, etc. — is itself an entertainment platform that plays the music we want to hear, catches us up on celebrity news, and lets us listen to interviews, podcasts, audio books, etc.

As entertainment properties seek to develop and evolve their voice platforms, it is helpful to keep in mind how best to build your brand’s voice. Here’s a few ideas specific to the Amazon Alexa Voice Assistant platform:

Voice is a Utility

The voice platform offers studios and networks a variety of new ways to support their brand by building an offering that adds a meaningful service to the consumer.

Voice connected to your home entertainment system will replace the remote control — and with it the complexity for many to actually being able to find what they want to watch. Voice will quickly become the new interface, enabling a much easier way to search, discover and get detailed information on your choice of entertainment. Where is your movie playing? What is the Rotten Tomatoes score? Who is the title actor? You get the idea.

When it comes to the Alexa family of devices, entertainment brands have the benefit of information feeds from IMDb and Wikipedia. But those search tools are only as useful as the data they get.

Tip 1:  For all brands in the voice-enabled age it’s important that their Wikipedia pages have up-to-the-minute information. For entertainment brands, it’s never been more important that both their Wikipedia and IMDb pages speak for them. * Extra points if you’re a property who’s promoting the enabling of your Alexa skill via your Wikipedia page!Voice is the Future

Each time your Alexa Skill is enabled and accessed in a consumer’s home, you are connecting and tracking an incredibly personal and organic form of communication.

One could say it’s the purest form of A/B testing your brand could receive, because its the consumer who starts the engagement and is in control of asking, requesting and wanting to direct the conversation.

This brings us to Tip 2: Your brand voice motto, like the Boy Scouts, needs to always be prepared. No matter what you build as a utility or entertainment proposition, your brand voice should always be listening and able to answer any number of possible queries the consumer has, as they are the ones in control.

As voice continues to grow in consumer adoption and brands continue to adapt and refresh their voice skills, casting a wider net of possible requests to both answer and track will give you better guidance on what and how you refresh next.

The Promotional Marketing Opportunities are Endless

Voice is about starting a conversation. Consumers are looking to engage with brands in the voice space but the style of engagement is very different than visually based communications. With voice, they are listening to what you have to say as they search for answers. This leads to many different ways to share and expand your content.

Jeopardy gives consumers a mini-game to play daily. Alexa will tell you a joke if you ask.

Tip 3: Don’t forget to leverage your most important assets; the voices of your stars and talent can support and promote a new film or series with a more personal and connected advantage over brands who do not already have a “voice.”

Gartner predicts that by 2020, voice will represent 30% of web-browsing activity. It’s time for all brands to find theirs.

 

As seen on Medipost https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/305478/why-voice-will-make-your-brand-heard.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=readmore&utm_campaign=104592&hashid=GDUskglhnvDLb35PkVj_E8-yz3s

Voice is the future of search

Both Google and Bing have stated that the majority of search queries they receive take place via voice on mobile.  It stands to reason that, given the hands-free capabilities of handsets and mobile phones, voice would eventually take precedence over text-based search. With the vast improvement in the quality of digital voice assistants like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, it was only a matter of time people discovered the immense convenience of voice search and rely on it for their queries.

But what does this mean for a small business, and how should you change your digital marketing strategy given this trend? Let’s look at some ways in which businesses can make their content voice search-friendly.

1. Focus on Phrases and Longtail Keywords

The search focus has shifted from terse, awkward keywords to long-tail phrases, or even entire sentences. That’s because voice searches make use of natural language. The way we talk is decidedly different than the way we type. The phrases and keywords that we use while speaking to digital assistants would therefore be different than those we use when entering text in Google search.

“What is the weather like in Miami today?” is an example of a conversational/natural language query more likely to be spoken to a digital assistant, as opposed to “weather miami,” which we would type into a search bar. Content optimized for voice SEO would therefore need to focus on this very important aspect of the nature of voice search.

2. Anticipate Specific Questions Asked in a Conversational Manner

Voice search might use entire sentences, but it’s also specific in nature. People do not ramble on when speaking to a digital assistant, possibly because a more specific question leads to a more accurate answer.

A query such as, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” with the user’s location enabled can return precise results for users. Business owners would therefore want to optimize their websites and content for intuitive but specific queries. This can be accomplished via a detailed FAQ page or a blog containing authority content created around longtail keywords and conversational but specific questions. This would require you to research the kind of questions your target audience most frequently poses to digital assistants and produce content around those queries. It’s a good idea to take each of those questions and flesh out the answers in the form of quality blog posts.

As long as your content answers customer queries in the best and most useful manner possible, expect Google to take notice of it and rank the website/mobile site accordingly.

3. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

Research has found that voice search is three times more likely to be local in nature. With this in mind, businesses should keep their profiles and contact information up to date, since this is what Google will pull for queries such as, “Where can I get the best coffee in Seattle?”

For a coffee shop owner, this would mean including accurate opening hours in their profile, including the precise location of the shop, and optimizing the content on the website to be found via keywords such as “best coffee” or something more specific, such as “best spiced chai latte.”

Find out the kind of questions your target audience is most likely to pose to a digital voice assistant, and create content that provides specific answers to these queries.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Ready for Voice Search

According to Google, micro moments (moments during which users need immediate, relevant, and ready-to-use information) are key to capitalizing on any kind of search, especially voice search. Since our smartphones are our constant companions, it is natural that with internet at our fingertips, they are going to be our first source of information. Google has therefore been encouraging businesses to be cognizant of the increasing use of mobile in internet search and accordingly optimize their sites for mobile.

We now have mobile and voice search to pay attention to. Businesses that take advantage of these micro moments stand a good chance of racing ahead of the competition:

  • Anticipate at which stage(s) a user is most likely to need the services your business provides.
  • Anticipate the nature of information they need to make a decision.
  • Provide users with the relevant information at that stage in order to help them make a decision, or leave them with clear further guidance.

For this to happen, businesses must ensure their websites are optimized for mobile, for local SEO, and for voice search. In order for a mobile site to be of use to someone during a micro moment, it needs to load quickly, be user-friendly, contain relevant information (local SEO), and produce the right answers in response to a voice search query. Taken together, this maximizes the chances of a user choosing your service.

Making the Leap

The nature of search and the evolution in search algorithms, based on changing technology and shifting consumer habits, require businesses to move in tandem with newer trends. That is the way for businesses to stay relevant and competitive.

IoT spending is expected to total nearly $1.4 trillion, led by enterprise investments IoT hardware, software, services, and connectivity.

By 2021, global IoT spending is expected to total nearly $1.4 trillion, led by enterprise investments IoT hardware, software, services, and connectivity.

Breaking down use cases, IDC says manufacturing, freight monitoring and production asset management will attract the largest investments. Smart grid technologies for electricity, gas, and water, and smart building technologies are also expected to see significant investment gains this year.ong tail, investments in smart home technologies will jump over the next five years, as well as airport facilities automation, electric vehicle charging, and in-store contextual marketing.

From a technology perspective, IDC says hardware will garner the most spending throughout the forecast, followed by services, software, and connectivity. But while hardware spending will nearly double over the forecast timeframe, its growth is the slowest out of all IoT technology groups.

Software and services spending will grow the fastest with application software representing more than half of all IoT software investments. Hardware spend will focus on modules and sensors that connect end points to networks, IDC says.

http://www.zdnet.com/google-amp/article/iot-spending-to-surpass-800-billion-in-2017-led-by-hardware-idc/

An entrepreneur’s biggest opportunity: stop and think about this, please

This is by far the most difficult post I have ever written for several reasons. First, it is the first time I am publicly writing (outside my personal network) about the loss of my father-in-law. Second, I write with humility that there is something wrong with me (and others like me) who think the future is only a product of how we handle today.

90 days ago my father-in-law was killed in a car accident on Ortega Highway, a poorly planned, dangerous and over-crowded road connecting South Orange County and Riverside county. Through this I have learned the definition of “tragic”, a word I had used flippantly until now.

Saying Mike was my father-in-law doesn’t really do our relationship justice, as he and I have known each other since I was 17. By all accounts, Mike was my Dad.

 

Mike provided guidance throughout his life with his actions. He was an entrepreneur from an early age and hustled his way through life by creating opportunities in the present and finding his way to provide for his family day to day.

Mike and I were (are) wired the same. We know the importance of planning ahead, but for some reason we value our own ability to put out the present fires over the ability to invest in those building blocks that lead to protection of the future; building blocks such as life insurance, succession planning, estate planning or long-term retirement goals.

Over the last several days I have spoken with several friends about this topic with the hopes of alerting them to the importance of stopping the grind for one moment and thinking about the future, about tomorrow.

“As Entrepreneurs we believe how well we do in the NOW determines how we will do in the FUTURE.” Thus, we fail to plan for the what-ifs and view that level of investment (time and money) as a luxury.

One friend agreed and added, “Its tough to worry about the future when the now includes rent, payroll, cash flow and taxes.”

Another, who interestingly is now advising and leading venture backed businesses added, “Entrepreneurs DO plan for the future but take irrational steps to get there”.

I tend to agree with the both of them. Somehow we rationalize a prioritization of just getting through the next 90 days over planning for the unknowns as it feels like something we can better control. But the reality is that we can control the unknown if we only stop to think about it.

And that is the point of this note….stop and think about it.

I am missing Mike a lot today. I miss my friend, father, and entrepreneurial kindred spirit. I learned a ton from Mike over the years and will do my best to continue his legacy for the next generation. It is his passion for life and giving back to others that fuels my newly found interest in planning for the future and becoming an advocate for entrepreneurs to stop and think about it.

Ironically, Dave Hanley, a high-school friend of mine (whom I have known since the same time as my father-in-law) just launched a new app today called Tomorrow, on the anniversary of my father-in-law’s untimely death. I know that if Mike had seen the app he would have signed up and sent Dave a personal note of thanks and congratulations. And I want Dave to know that had he used the app, it would have changed things greatly for his family today. I encourage all of you to stop, think about the future, and plan for whatever tomorrow brings.

Tomorrow Overview from Tomorrow on Vimeo.

Magic is when a brand embraces experiences where their customers can see, hear or taste them. 

When you add something for people to see, hear, taste and do at the forefront of your messaging, you are creating a positive memory that is much more powerful than an ad alone. It becomes a moment in time that participants will enthusiastically remember and talk about. And, it’s a heart-felt connection to your brand that will make consumers more receptive to your messaging every time they see your ads in the future

http://adage.com/article/guest-columnists/experiential-heart-branding/305726/?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social

Missing my favorite event of the year assembled by @dherman76 

As I sit here thinking about the week ahead, I find myself truly disappointed to not be joining my friends and colleagues at this year’s Silicon Alley Sports event. On one hand, I’m appreciative of the opportunity to be busy with amazing client growth plans. On the other, I am sorry that I won’t see Darren’s vision take form in what will no doubt be another great year. 

From performance to brand building and several tech offerings in between, Darren’s event is one of the best places to meet up with those who make moves in the media and connected marketing landscape. 

Those of you interested in attending next year, let me know via DM. It’s an invite only event but I will be happy to bring a plus one next year if the fit is right 😉

I’ll be looking for photos and recaps from those of you going. 
http://www.siliconalleysports.com/new-page-1/

42 percent of smart speaker owners have bought a second device (or more) – TechCrunch

Here’s a promising metric for Amazon, in terms of its ability to maintain its current lead in the voice computing market: 42 percent of smart speaker owners have two or more devices, according to Edison Research. This figure is seemingly growing, too. Last year, there were about 1.18 Amazon Echo devices per Alexa household, but this new finding pushes the number to around 1.5 to 1.6 smart speaker devices per household.

Not exactly apples to apples, but Echo still dominates.

Amazon today has a solid lead in voice computing, despite new entrants on the market like Google Home and soon, Apple’s HomePod. A recent survey estimates that Amazon has sold more than 10 million Alexa-powered Echo devices since late 2014. Morgan Stanley believes that figure could be more than 11 million. Amazon is also forecasted to control 70 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market this year.

https://techcrunch-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/techcrunch.com/2017/06/23/42-percent-of-amazon-echo-owners-have-bought-a-second-device-or-more/amp/