Speak Easy – how voice technology will shape the future of content

Voice technology is changing how users relate to their devices – and it’s making the need for a strong brand voice more pressing than ever, finds a new report

Speak Easy – how voice technology will shape the future of content

Amazon, Google and Apple are leading the voice-tech charge with their respective voice assistants Echo, Alexa and Siri. But the landscape is changing, with new entrants using voice capabilities in other ways. 

Six key trends emerging from voice technology are revealed in this Speak Easy report – among them, the need for brands to have a well-defined tone of voice…

Voice trend 1: Brands need to find their voice

Consumers are already looking for greater variety in voices. Just under three-quarters (74%) of regular voice technology users globally think brands should have unique voices and personalities for their apps or skills, and not just use the assistant on smartphones. Some brands are already tackling this issue – for example the BBC uses a pre-recorded news presenter’s voice. 

‘Companies will now need to think about the actual voice of their brand,’ says Martin Reddy, co-founder and chief technology officer of PullString, who’s quoted in the report. ‘They have to think about how their brand sounds, and the words and language that their brand uses when communicating with customers… the personality of their brand as it’s presented to users.’

Voice trend 2: Users use voice to make life easy

Users like voice technology that allows them to accomplish tasks easily and quickly. The research found that voice interactions showed consistently lower levels of brain activity than their touch equivalent, indicating that voice response is less taxing cognitively. Some 35% of all global regular voice users told the researchers that they use voice tech when they are feeling lazy.  

Voice trend 3: Users crave intimacy with their voice assistants 

Some 73% of global smartphone users agree that ‘if voice assistants could understand me properly and speak back to me as well as a human can, I’d use them all the time'. 

One astonishing fact the report found was that more than a quarter of regular voice technology users say they have had a sexual fantasy about their voice assistant! 

While the emotional response to voice assistants is lower than for human interactions and touch interfaces, intimacy seems to grow the more people use the technology.

Voice trend 4: Voice could liberate consumers from the screen 

Over half (53%) of global smartphone users agree that ‘voice technology will help people interact more with each other as they won’t be always looking down at a screen’. 

So brands will have to ensure content can be easily accessed through voice and consider how to capture the attention of consumers using content accessible through the Internet of Things.

Voice trend 5: Consumers want to give up control to ‘Digital Butlers’ 

Voice will integrate further into our lives with 39% of smartphone users being excited about a future where ‘my voice assistant will anticipate what I need and take actions or make suggestions’. Already, more than $2billion of sales were forecast to be driven by digital assistants in 2016 alone.

For brands, the key challenge will be to ensure that they are recommended by the gatekeepers and ‘digital butler’ ahead of the competition. 

Voice trend 6: Users want guarantees of personal privacy 

When current non-voice users were asked what would encourage them to use voice technology, they raised concerns around personal data security rank as the #1 issue in 6 of the 9 markets surveyed (UK, Germany, Spain, China, Australia). So developers working on the technology will need to make privacy a priority.

  • The Speak Easy – The Future Answers To You report was put together by J Walter Thompson Innovation Group London and Mindshare Futures in partnership with Neuro-Insight. 

Get the full Speak Easy report