Alexa – A Brand’s Friend or Foe?

On 16th March 2021 Say It Now were asked by the IAB to join a lively debate to kick off their ‘E-Commerce Week’.  Each presenter was asked to put forward a 5 minute monologue stating their particular expertise against the following statement:

“From tailored recommendations to augmented reality, and delayed payment to in-ad purchasing, ecommerce has become much more than just buying online. But is this creating a shopper’s paradise or rampant consumerism?”

Say It Now’s Strategic Partnerships Director, Maria Cadbury opened up the debate with the following position.

The Voice Commerce Debate – New commerce channels should be friction-less, saving time for the consumer

Amazon is eating your lunch! Left alone Alexa will make recommendations that suit her and Amazon best.  However, the [Alexa] platform is built in such a way to enable brands to harness the power of voice and script their own engagement, therein delivering a massive untapped opportunity for brands today.

With 43% UK adults having a smart speaker and a reported $164B of voice lead transactions by 2025 the voice commerce market is not to be ignored but what does it mean for the relationship between brand and consumer?

Brands face the prospect of losing a direct relationship with their customer.  Through an Amazon filter their brand message becomes diluted and it becomes harder to gain insight into what their customers really want from them.  Conversely there’s never been a greater opportunity to play a meaningful part in the conversation, listen to the customer’s wants and engage. After all, us humans really want to be heard.

What people miss the most is engaging with a brand expert and actually being sold to in a permission environment, whilst every other form of advertising has become better at targeting, it’s still just broadcast.  Whereas, with Voice, the customer participates – no other form of advertising listens, it just shouts.

With voice there’s a real opportunity to be in the right place at the right time, for example with a client of ours ‘Whisky Me’ who offers monthly whisky tasting sets.  There is a companion Alexa skill that the customer listens to in order to be guided through how to appreciate that month’s whisky and at the end Alexa asks a simple question “would you like to order a full bottle?”

For us it’s all about context.  When we are children, voice is the first communication interface we learn.  It is simple, intuitive to use and deeply engaging.  If you can connect in a two way conversation we don’t believe there’s a better way to build rapport at scale.

This is the decade of voice commerce.  It’s a new channel and where we saw the nascent behaviour at the dawn of the web, where we turned to search engines to ask a question, people now turn to their devices for answers.   Brands have the opportunity to be part of their own story, be the brand that’s featured, have a voice commerce and brand info solution.

When the web arrived, brands had to decide if they wanted a website or a campaign microsite and this is how we see voice commerce and the use of Actionable Audio Ads working, where brands will have their skill as part of their campaign strategy driving frictionless conversations between the customer and commerce and the brand. Otherwise, they are not active in the conversation.

A great example of this is Bayer’s recent Berocca Boost campaign where they included Actionable Audio Ads (an audio ad with a specific device CTA and an Alexa skill).  The results once in the skills drove 65% engagement – either asking for more brand information or buying Berocca Boost.  The campaign gathered quite the storm in the trade press, read here how Campaign reported the ‘global media first’ .  The skill is a campaign destination and voice is the command, not click.

Actionable Audio Ads also brings end to end attribution – combining data from the audio ad and also the interactions from the skills delivering a rich data set for brand experience and brand response campaigns.

Ecommerce isn’t about the transaction, ecommerce is the digital journey towards the transaction and we understand exactly the role voice can play at every part of the customer consideration decision journey from brand experience, to lead gen to transaction, purchase

“The continued rise of voice commerce, specifically non obvious ways voice removes pinch points in the customer journey. Voice commerce doesn’t always have to be at the last mile of the transaction but can have a very valuable part to play in the customer decision journey influencing the Transaction.” Charlies Cadbury, Co-Founder and CEO Say It Now

Watch the full talk here:

Say It Now

Say It Now, founded in 2018 are a specialist, multi-award winning provider of enterprise voice assistant enabled systems.  At Say It Now we are passionate about the future of conversational technology, the management team has over 20 years experience in delivering enterprise solutions and our goal is simple, to make people’s’ lives easier.

In 2019 Say It Now won the UK & EU rounds of ‘The Alexa Cup’, a competition from Amazon who invited 75 agencies and tool providers in 12 countries to compete for. The challenge offered an opportunity to push the boundaries of what is possible with voice leveraging the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). It was a forum to showcase creativity, innovation, and technical prowess to produce delightful and engaging, customer-centric voice experiences that has allowed Say It Now to forge a deep working relationship with Amazon, access to several areas of pre-market (beta) technology and insight.

Say It Now has existing framework agreements or has delivered voice projects to customers including Diageo, Comic Relief, Amazon, AB-Inbev, NSPCC, BAYER, Mediacom and Global Radio.