Talking on your phone may take on a whole new meaning as a U.S. marketing firm launches “voice ads” — advertisements that use voice-recognition to allow users to interact with the ads.
Starting this month, marketing firm Nuance will launch a series of interactive web ads that allow cell phone users to hold a conversation with ads. When an ad is displayed, an accompanying banner ad will include a button to start the voice ad. Once begun, the ad can recognize a variety of words and commands based on individual customization by marketers.
“Smartphones were meant for talking, and Nuance Voice Ads feel like conversations,” Nuance states in its marketing for the daring new service.
The simplest versions of the ads will use only basic commands, such as “Search, “Yes” and “Email.” More complex ads could recognize words and use them to conduct product searches or answer questions using a more intelligent interface.
Nuance cites the small amount of space that mobile marketers have for their ads as a reason to move the bulk of the ad into a “conversation” style, trading information with audio commands rather than trying to read tiny text. When discussing the potential of talking to a brand, Nuance says, “Rather than thinking about mobile ads as tiny, inferior billboards, think of them as high-quality consumer interactions that occur in non-retail environments.”
In its press release for the voice ads, the company offers a few more specifics: Ad networks like Millennial Media, Jumptap and Opera Mediaworks will be providing distribution to more than 100,000 app publishers. A number of creative agencies will also offer ad creation using the new hybrid medium.
While voice ads promise useful conversations and “personal dialogues,” the experiment needs some serious real-world testing before the results confirm expectations. Smartphone owners are already used to talking to friends and, in some cases, to intelligent algorithms like Siri. Will they be able to adopt ad-based discussion, too?
A lot depends on the experience itself — immediate questions concerning environmental noise and misinterpretation arise. Fortunately, Nuance’s background is in the Dragon Dictation brand, which as been successful on TVs, mobile devices and computers.
The next question: How will advertisers use voice-recognition marketing? The website provides a fairly bread-and-butter example of giving a web ad commands and then specifying more personal information. Shifting to Voice Ads just for “Yes/No” commands would certainly be a waste, but aiming for Siri-like discussions with quips included sounds like a tall order for the average marketing agency. The sweet middle ground is a voice ad that has consumers positively relating to a brand. Which companies will rise up and show the rest how to do voice ads the right way?
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