Hey, Google “Did Alexa kill CES as we knew it?”

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Look closely. You will see in this image the epitome of CES 2018. Amazon Alexa, well positioned on the floor with a full year plus of partnerships and integration including CES 2017 where they dominated the strip, floor and discussion. Google, represented here (left, inside the booth), boxed in and relevant only to those who know where to look for it made incredible efforts to be recognized and part of the conversation at CES 2018. They succeeded as voice became the #1 topic at nearly all meetings and cocktail hours. Despite the showing, Alexa integrations and branding was on display 3 to 1.

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Barking “Hey, Google “and “Alexa…” make not a CES. As I reflected on my annual drive back from Vegas, a trip I have been doing for 17 years, I realized the difference between then and now comes down to the value the products are bringing to consumers.

 

THEN:  Back then (and up until about 3-4 years ago), CES was where new, verticalforming innovation debuted, and where products that made us more productive where recognized. (VCR, CD player, flat panel tv, gaming, IP TV)

 

What’s interesting to me here is that, in between each of these innovations, we found a period of time where the vertical was evolving and refining. Flat panel TVs were over $10,000 when they first came out and now you can buy them at Costco for $400.

 

So, where are we right now? Well, I think it is safe to say that 2018 was a year of convenience rather than transformation.

Convenience is what happens when the value proposition is not based on newness or major leaps forward but rather on evolution of the customer experience.

 

Hey, Google… Ask Alexa what is CES?

2017: CES: Consumer Electronics Show

2018: CES: Customer Experience Show

 

Products that were not part of the consumer electronics category before are, by nature of adding sensors or voice assistants, smart and now part of the conversation. The low(ish) cost to add tech to products means an onslaught of newcomers to CES which in-turn pushes the already crowded market into the streets, literally. App makers and artificial intelligence SAAS providers took over restaurants for the week and managed to create buzz alongside their clients, the manufacturers. If you didn’t already see it, a beauty company made quite the splash at CES this year.

 

Thursday morning, after several days of meetings, walking the floor, and demonstration after demonstration, I joined about 100 game changers at the Future Proof event co-hosted by MemBrain and Wunderman (Thank you to Jennifer Sullivan for the invitation). As attendees barely had their first sip of coffee, Cheddar Founder Jon Steinberg wasted no time and started off by posing a profound question about salience. While getting to a different question, Jon addressed the open room asking ‘in a world where 80% of a brand/product’s marketing dollars are spent on Facebook and Google, have we tipped over into a duopoly where a product has limited access to find saliency’? 

 

Just 12 hours later, Facebook made what could prove to be the most important announcement on this topic, addressing the way their algorithm promotes a brand or publisher’s quest for saliency in our personal news feed. This move will bring Facebook closer to its roots and create opportunities for brands and publishers to uncover new angles and platforms in the quest for saliency. Consumers have grown to become addicted to checking facebook (and other apps) enabling a behavior across demographics that is promoting data/information consumption at all times.

 

This attention to the word saliency really struck a chord and the irony was not lost on me as we sat in this room at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) marking for many the end of a long-product development cycle. The efforts of the makers transfers to the marketers and here we were, talking about how challenging it is to find prominence on a social platform against headwinds of record breaking exhibitors and attendees fighting for a moment of their target audiences’ attention. Now put yourself in the shoes of the connected consumer, bombarded by content, clips and facts. 

 

For a second year in a row, I heard, “it all looks the same” and “there is not anything new”. As I commented last year, the innovation is not on the surface friends. We are entering a time where the show looks the same but what you see is not what’s new.

 

The ultimate challenge is to demonstrate the value within to the target customer and that challenge requires understanding and empathy and to do so with clarity. Too many “compatible with” statements may sound great, but the consumer experience gets cluttered and confusing pretty quick.

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The new value of customer experience is predicated on our ability to provide and extract data. That’s scary, right? No, it’s only scary to give over data when you are not getting value back. In a world where time is perceived to be the ultimate currency, convenience is the ultimate value.

 

Amazon and Google have a major role in the future of CES and, frankly, a responsibility to give back to the product makers who have embraced them and put them front and center on the floor. Long-live the spirit of innovation and the future of CES as the expo focused on convenience, experience AND innovation. Change is a good thing and I am excited to see how CES evolves again next year.

Prediction: AR with informed interaction
becomes the key driver to upgrade our phones (and glasses)

CNET captured a great list of notables worthy of sharing here: https://www.cnet.com/pictures/all-the-cool-new-gadgets-at-ces-2018/

Now, a few of my highlights where customer experience created value and where products inspired as seen by @DOTLOT and @THEBUDDYGROUP

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Western Digital and SanDisk have cracked the code for backing up images and videos from your phone or device while on the go, a feature that has become synonymous with the connected consumer, prosumer and mom-a-ratzi.

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@SharperImage is a favorite of mine. I can’t seem to walk through an airport without stopping and spending 20 minutes trying the latest gadgets. Be on the lookout for this smart roller complete with vibration mode. I may have cried a bit while trying this out.

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Yamaha showed off a self correcting motorcycle concept that not only looked amazing, promised to allow you to get to your destination safely.

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The most talked about item at CES this year, the folding machine powered by AI and controlled by voice.

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Want this guy teaching your kid? Someone invested a lot of money to prepare for that to be a reality.

Finally, having worked with Moverio (EPSON) for years, I had to check out Vuzix Blade in person. Where Moverio’s presence was primarily focused on the use of the glasses to maximize the drone flight experience, Vuzix integration of Alexa made the proposition of smart glasses interesting but proof is in the…frames. I am encouraged by Vuzix and hopeful others in the category step up their game to enable unique use cases and provide value to a market hungry for a new way to learn, engage and share.

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I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank may amazing team for all the great efforts to launch @DOTLOT at CES this year. DOTLOT is the only content company engineered for products that evolve. The response has been overwhelming and we are excited to help companies connect the dots between their products and people. www.dotlot.com and jeff@dotlot.com for more information.

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A recent report from Forrester found that 57 percent of marketers find it difficult to give their stakeholders in different functions access to their data and insights.

Some of Google Inc.’s products and services are already pretty good at dealing with queries spoken in plain English. We no longer have to type our searches into Google, for example, we can just ask for it and get the answers we need. We can also tell our smartphones to find the fastest route to our destination while traveling and they will quickly display a map with GPS instructions.

Now, the company is bringing this natural-language ability to its Google Analytics service. As of Tuesday, Google Analytics users can say rather than type queries such as “new users from January 1 to May 7” and the service will immediately display that information. It can also handle more advanced questions, throwing up various charts and graphs offering visual displays for all kinds of web traffic metrics.

In order to use Google Analytics’ new natural voice capabilities, users click on the Intelligence button that opens up a side panel. In the mobile app for Android and iOS, there’s a new Intelligence icon in the upper right-hand corner that can be clicked on to activate the feature.

Google is adding natural language queries as part of a new set of Analysis Intelligence tools that leverage machine learning systems to help users better understand their website data. Google said it added the new feature after realizing that even some of the most basic information in its Analytics tools was not easily discoverable for many users.

“We’ve talked to web analysts who say they spend half their time answering basic analytics questions for other people in their organization,” said Anissa Alusi, a Google Analytics product manager, in a blog post. “In fact, a recent report from Forrester found that 57 percent of marketers find it difficult to give their stakeholders in different functions access to their data and insights. Asking questions in Analytics Intelligence can help everyone get their answers directly in the product.”

Some of the other Analysis Intelligence tools include automated insights, smart goals, smart lists and session quality. With regard to the automated insights, this will deliver more information to mobile users that was previously only available to desktop users, Google said.

The company said the new features, including natural language processing, are being rolled out now and will be available to users all over the world within the next few weeks. Here’s a short video from Google demonstrating how it works:

It is almost here…the time of year I love so much… #CES

There is nothing better than starting off the new year in Vegas with 600 startups and over 4,000 exhibitors crammed in to 2.6 million net square feet. This January will mark my 20th year attending CES. I look forward to connecting with friends and hearing what has you excited for 2018 as I look to compile my annual recap.

Look for some exciting news coming from my team as well because, you know, we couldn’t let you get ALL the limelight.

2018 is going to be great! Hit me up and let’s connect @mybuddypeted or pete@thebuddygroup.com

30 Million households will have a voice-first, in-home device by the end of December! @thebuddygroup

@thebuddygroup is working to help product managers and marketers harness the connected consumer’s varied and evolving onramps to brand engagement.

According to a new report by Narvar, “Bots, Texts and Voice: What Cuts Through the Clutter,” describing how shoppers’ communications preferences are changing with the rise of smartphones, chatbots and voice devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Over two-thirds of shoppers have interacted with retailers using text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 65% of shoppers who’ve knowingly used a chatbot, enjoy the experience.

Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar, says “…technology innovation complicates what we already know… that customer communications are never one-size-fit-all… with this research, our mission is to equip retailers with the insights they need to navigate nuanced communications and ultimately create the best experiences possible…”

77% of American adults own a smartphone; every month, people exchange 2 billion messages with Facebook Messenger’s 100,000 active bots; and 30 million households will have a voice-first, in-home device such as Amazon Echo and Google Home by the end of 2017. These technology-driven communication channels are starting to change the way people want to interact with retailers. While more than 80% prefer to get messages from retailers via email, 38% now want to hear from retailers on multiple channels. According to the survey, 79% of shoppers have also used text messages, messenger apps or voice devices to connect with retailers.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail industry analyst who collaborated with Narvar on this study, says “… retail brands should seize the opportunity to learn from, and optimize consumer communications, through both existing and emerging channels. The first step is to understand how their customers want to communicate based on elements like urgency, type of message and specific channel… ”

While shoppers typically prefer to receive messages from retailers via email, they’re warming up to text messages and push notifications, says the report. This is especially true if a message is important and contains order confirmation or tracking information. They also want companies to communicate package delays or postponed delivery dates, quickly, and want more communication for high-value items.

  • 73% of shoppers consider messages containing order tracking information to be “very important,” while 46% say customer service messages are “very important”
  • 84% say more communication is critical if the purchase is an expensive one
  • 98% of shoppers say they feel better about a company if they are notified immediately when something goes wrong.

While email still reigns overall, communication preferences vary by age group, says the report. Millennials aged 21-29 prefer text messages and mobile push notifications from retailers more than any other generation, because they’re more likely to see these kinds of messages quickly.

  • 43% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as text messages, compared with 39% of shoppers aged 30-44, 32% of shoppers aged 45-59, and 28% of those shoppers 60 or older
  • 33% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as push notifications, compared with 22% of those aged 30-44, 12% of those aged 45-59, and just 4% of those 60 or older

Retailers are starting to integrate artificial intelligence and voice technology into communications with shoppers. While these channels are still new, the majority of shoppers have at least tried messenger apps, voice devices or live chat. The data underscores that shoppers anticipate using voice-powered devices more.

  • 79% of shoppers have used text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 74% indicated they have used live chat when shopping. Of those who have used these new technologies, 38% could not identify if they were using artificial intelligence, and only 10% knew it was not human
  • 65% of shoppers who knew a non-human bot was responding generally liked it
  • 29% of voice device owners use it to shop, while 41% of voice device owners plan to shop with it in the future.

The majority of shoppers will try to resolve problems on their own, says the report. Those under 30 are most likely to prefer to fix problems themselves, using the retailer’s website or chat technology. In the future, retailers will need to adopt a hybrid model which applies technology to offer better self-service options, but escalates higher-level issues to humans.

  • 55% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to talk to a person to resolve a problem, compared with 72% of shoppers aged 60 or older
  • 88% of under-30 millennials and 73% of shoppers aged 60 or older will try to find an answer to the problem themselves when they encounter an issue with a retailer

The complete report detailing the findings of the study is available online at Narvar.com

by  , Staff Writer @mp_research, Yesterday

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.