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By Abdullah Al Nahian

Ever since smartphones have been introduced, they have taken the world by storm and have become the go-to device for anyone willing to do something on the internet. The reason for this boom in smartphone usage was because of how conveniently accessible they were. With the continuous change in trend in the world of technology, voice search is becoming popular each day and the devices that are facilitating voice search the most are smart speakers. A smart speaker is a wireless speaker that works by using an integrated virtual assistant to process voice commands made by users. Because of the convenience that voice search and smart speakers bring to the table, they are becoming more popular every passing day. As a result, for marketers, this is becoming a new bandwagon to jump on.


Before jumping on the bandwagon of smart speaker-based marketing, marketers must fully understand both the software and hardware that work in a smart speaker. The smart speaker market is dominated by two tech giants mostly, Amazon and Google. Apple has recently joined the smart speaker market with the launch of their flagship Apple HomePod in 2018. All the activities of any smart speaker depend on the Artificial Intelligence powered virtual assistant it uses. Currently, there are five major virtual voice assistants, namely, Alexa by Amazon, Bixby by Samsung, Cortana by Microsoft, Google Assistant by Google, and Siri by Apple. The user base of the smart speaker market changes based on which virtual assistant provides the most convenience when it comes to voice searches. Before planning to capture the smart speaker market, marketers must first research on what type of smart speakers or virtual assistants their target market prefers. Depending on the preferences of their target market based on smart speaker software and hardware, marketers can definitely provide a more customized experience.


Right now, smart speaker marketing practices seem to be very limited. None of the two tech giants that dominate the smart speaker market offer any kind of ad providing scope inside their smart speakers. However, with the increase of smart speaker sales by over 300% from 2016 to 2018, it is quite evident that smart speaker manufacturers will definitely look into providing advertising scope for companies in order to earn more. While there are no specific advertisement slots available inside smart speakers, it does not necessarily mean that marketers should be disheartened. Because, this has made marketers more and more creative when it comes to smart speaker advertising. While companies cannot run ads separately on any of the top smart speakers, they can however buy ad slots inside content made specifically for the smart speakers. Another very innovative method that some marketers have come up with is making an app for the smart speaker itself and then promoting their products through that specific app. A very good example is of the tequila brand Patron which introduced an app that helped users get information about cocktail recipes. They made the sale by recommending their brand Patron in every one of the cocktail recipes. This same approach has been taken by big brands like Unilever and Procter & Gamble. The cost for this type of marketing would not be much but would give the brand the chance to interact more directly with their customers.


Understanding the target market’s preference is absolutely important for marketers in any market and that holds true and most important when it comes to smart speaker marketing. If the target demographic is comprised of mostly Siri users, marketing programs will not work if the marketer provides ads for other virtual assistant based smart speakers. Since most of the smart speaker market is dominated by Amazon and Google, it will be profitable for marketers to run ads through Alexa or Google Assistant’s daily flash updates. This is a tougher marketing approach because it will require marketers to come up with content regularly. According to Google, 62 percent of the people who use smart speakers regularly are likely to purchase products through them. While companies cannot change the way how search results usually come up, they can provide question answer based content in their ads. Another common trend in voice searches is the use of short phrases. So, brands can optimize searches for their product based on common short phrases. Because of how good the smart speakers are at playing audio, they have driven up podcast hearings and increased the overall audio experience of the users. As a result, marketers can run ads through these podcasts and other audio streaming services.


While smart speaker marketing is somewhat limited right now, in the future, due to the increase in voice search and voice-based commands, the scope is likely to expand by a lot. With the rise in Internet of Things(IoT), smart speakers will be able to act as real life assistants for the common people. Smart speakers are already able to control some of the smart home security features and lighting and soon the scope of this will expand to making purchases and restocking essentials based on the customer’s usual preference. As a result, it will be more and more important for brands to get into the customer’s mind to make sure they become a regular on the shopping list.


Even after the current limitations in the smart speaker marketing scenario, the marketers have found ways over and over again to reach their customers through innovative approaches. In the future, when smart speakers become more accepting towards advertisement, every brand will jump on the bandwagon. At that time, the marketers with the most innovative approaches will be the ones with the most market shares. Nonetheless, the rise of smart speakers and virtual assistants right now mean only one thing for marketers and it is that a new dimension is opening up for marketers to be able to reach the customers better and they should learn to capitalize on it as soon as possible. 

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