Ads that talk to you: the future of mobile advertising?

By April 04, 2013
young man talking to his phone

Speech recognition is already changing the way users interact with phones. But applied to mobile advertising, this technology lets users and brands literally talk to each other, and interact only with the use of their voice.


Voice and speech recognition technologies, which are used for search, text entry and monitoring, are bringing a new dimension to mobile interfaces. Users can already send text messages, shop online or simply browse Google just by talking to their smartphones. Nuance, the company behind Apple’s Siri, announced the launch of Voice Ads, an advertising technology that uses speech recognition to create mobile ads. While the mobile advertising market is booming, Nuance argues that mobile screens are “the worst” for advertisers. Mainly due to size, smartphone screens makes it hard to read, are sometimes awkward to interact with, and overall tough for advertisers to offer an engaging user experience. Voice technology, Nuance argues, removes the constraints of visual interfaces and offers brands an opportunity to engage users in  a much deeper way.

A two-way conversation between brands and consumers

Voice Ads are mobile ads that involve a conversation between a brand and a smartphone user, who only needs to use her voice. The ads incite users to speak and start a dialogue with the brand – by asking a question for instance – and the experience is then tailored depending on how the conversation evolves. For instance, Nuance’s demo video shows an ad for a fictional deodorant brand that answers users’ questions about the product. Voice Ads is also location and context aware, and adjusts to the users’ environment – it raises volume when the ambient noise level is high, etc. According to Nuance, Voice Ads isn’t a gadget feature; it is a new advertising format.

Shaping the future of interactive advertising

According to Laura Schneider, Mobile Specialist at OMD, voice is a new creative tool for advertisers and brands, and could shape the future of interactive mobile advertising: “Infusing voice as part of the ad experience gives us an entirely new landscape of creative assets and capabilities that will transform a brand’s ability to quite literally speak directly to their target audience.” By creating a dialogue between a brand and a user, it creates lasting impressions on consumers, and therefore also deepens the brand-to-consumer relationship, Nuance argues. Brett Leary, Vice President Mobile at Digitas, explains: “Voice Ads engages multiple senses while creating an even stronger emotional connection through conversation with a brand.” 

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