Marketing guru Brad Berens opened ad:tech Sydney this morning with some advice for brands about the future.
First of all, Berens differentiated about two different types of future. First up, there’s the big vision of the future which includes flying cars and dogs that can speak to you. Secondly, there’s the #FTAH (future that’s already here).
He then applied this to different areas including the buzz topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice. According to Berens, the “big vision” of the future tells us that AI is going to change everything in the world around us fundamentally.
When thinking about the future that’s already here, AI is already in everyone’s pockets with Siri and Google Assistant.
Berens predicts that the smartphone will (eventually) disappear and no longer be our primary computing device. Instead, we’ll own smart glasses and sensors scattered through our clothing. Apparently Amazon has a prototype where there’s a microphone on your nose and a tiny piece behind your hear so you can have Alexa with you at all times. Scary stuff.
Thinking about the opportunities for brands in this new paradigm is interesting. Berens claims that the future will not be radio-style interruptive ads. Can you imagine asking Alexa “What’s the weather like today?” and the reply being “First of all, a quick message from our sponsor (insert brand name)”?
However, the opportunity could be branding the voice interface like Toy Story has done with Apple watches. Another example is Garmin who have worked with The Simpsons to create a “Homer voice” for users or Darth Vader. If you have a distinctive voice for your brand, this is an opportunity to use it.
Berens also raises an important point about search and brand discovery. With visual searches, you can search something and scan over a range of options. But when you are listening, you don’t want to listen to all the options, you just want one. This has implications for major brands.
For example, Beren states that Amazon is one of the most trusted brands in America. But for brands, “Amazon is not your friend, it’s a remorseless shark that never stops eating, moving and it’s going to attack you from a direction that you don’t expect”.
Beren explains, “When you say, ‘hey Alexa, I need Duracell batteries.’ Alexa replies, ‘Sorry I don’t have them, but we do have Amazon home brand batteries.’ In simple terms, they are training users to accept the generic. Brands vanish in a voice environment.”