Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel) graced the main stage to discuss the proliferation of voice assistants and smart audio during his session, Hello, Voice, at MAICON 2019.
Just in case you’re not familiar: Joel is Founder of Six Pixels Group, an advisory, investing and content producing company that is focused on commerce and innovation. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, is a business and marketing bestseller and his second book, CTRL ALT Delete, was named one of the best business books of 2013 by Amazon.
Joel boldly stated during his talk that, “Voice is the new smartphone.”
This was right after informing the audience that time spent on mobile devices surpassed TV viewership—making mobile our primary device for media consumption.
So, with voice scaling at an exponential rate, it's more critical than ever that we, as marketers, have a good understanding of voice and the opportunity it presents. For more, watch the video below, or read the full transcription. Please note that the transcription was compiled using AI with Otter.ai, so blame any typos on the machine :)
MAICON 2020 Update
Given how rapidly the COVID-19 outbreak is evolving across the globe, MAICON 2020 has been cancelled. MAICON will return July 13 - 15, 2021 to the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland.
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Okay, I'm not an AI, I am a human. How are you? You can interact with me, I guess you're gonna talk to the AI? No, that's great. People often ask me Are things really changing as rapidly as we think? And I think that they are. And I think that means sort of prove that to us time and time again, in the days in which we live. And what's interesting about technology and how it's moving in terms of how artificial intelligence is coming in and machine learning, is we have to be able to sort of take one little step back and realize that we've made a huge leap in marketing. And the real leap that we made that I think is helping to facilitate the usage and what will be the sort of pushing forward of AI is the fact that we managed to get to this place this sort of mobile first world We managed to untether from computers and laptops, and make this stuff, this technology accessible to us, everywhere and anywhere. And if you take a look at how this has unfolded, it's pretty staggering. I mean, just very recently, it came to be that mobile has basically killed TV, that our time spent on our mobile devices is significantly larger now than daily television viewership. Which I know might surprise you, because you're like, my viewership is down considering my YouTube and Netflix. But the truth is that there has been a transformative moment, which is that we're not just using our mobiles when we're on the go. We're actually using them even when we're at home as our primary media consumption device. And as marketers thinking about things like artificial intelligence in this world, we have to be able to understand the implications of how we actually use and consume media and how our consumers do and what that means moving forward. And the numbers are really, really good. So this is the graph from you marketers showing you the usage and how it's changed obviously mobile video The red and TV being in what would look like black. The other part we're seeing is how we purchase and how we buy. And this is sort of newer information where we see that US, US adults, they're actually using their mobile device for shopping. It has really, really increased a lot in the past six months. And I highlighted in red that if you look at Gen Y, it's actually smartphones over PCs and computers. And that's a segment that you want to watch to see how that proliferates. These are really good indicators for how technology adapts and how we change and the implications for the work that we're trying to do hear day in and day out. And so the first provocation that I'm going to give you today will be that if we are saying that we live in a mobile first world, I think we need to shift that a little bit. And Paul tease it out and the sort of name of the subject he's about to, but I really do think that voice is the new smartphone. And that we're going to see a massive change in how this works. I'll get to the attachment device. In AI, and a little bit, but you have to sort of get yourself into the groove and mindset as a marketer of what this means. What does this world look like, if you're listening to Deloitte, Deloitte will come forward onto a stage like this. And they'll tell you things like 250 million smart speakers will be done here by 2019. I've seen other pieces of data that says it's probably maybe closer to 40 million, maybe 70 million. I'm not sure it necessarily matters. What matters is it's a crap ton.
It's a metric ton of like new devices that are infiltrating in a dramatic way. My my friend and a mutual friend of Paul's and many others in this room is Tom Webster, Tom Webster works at Edison research. And he does a lot of this in his research around the infinite dial in smart speakers. And smart audio has been a sort of pillar of that since they've come into proliferation. And here's the most recent and surprising piece of information that he brought forward. And their latest piece of research that smart speaker ownership continues to grow approach. One in four Americans aged 12. Plus think about the market size right there right here in the States. But here's the bigger one, that the average smart speaker user actually owns two devices. So just imagine what we're talking about in terms of what the home might look like what the work environment look like, what what access might be. And when you think about it from the speaker perspective, which most people do they think of smart speakers, right? They think of there's Alexa and Google homes. How do you believe a smart speaker? I'm just curious, raises caffeinated hands of yours. Yeah, I mean, you can look around like that the number even in this room is sort of representative of what we're hearing from the research. But the thing about the speakers is, it's not actually about the speakers. It's about the technology that's embedded in the speakers, and that's that voice assistant technology. Now, if you look at that, that's where the numbers are going to raise some eyebrows and raise whatever hairs you have on your body. Because if you look at what's happening on the install base on this, it's staggering three point two, 5 billion devices right now have voice assistance in use on them. Now, again, I love those hockey stick curves. I built my career on not showing hockey stick curves. It's worked out really well for me. But look at this in terms of 2023, which is literally tomorrow, just look at that grow and grow and grow. And if you look at it in terms of a breakdown, you can see by install base even in blue, you're seeing it about 100 million Amazon Alexa devices in green 400 plus million. I know you're thinking it's got to be Siri. It's got to be Google. Now. It's not it's Microsoft in their Cortana technology. Next up, read 500 plus million would be google assistant. And then you have Apple Siri, because we have this technology and a lot of these devices and we're seeing it proliferate more and more. But this gives you a really good appetite for just how much there is and how important it is. And especially at a conference like metcon for us to start thinking about this really seriously. Yo, Chris Penn is a genius. I call him the ninja. He's my ninja, he's been my ninja for 15 plus years we've known each other anytime I have anything technical or even stupid to ask, I typically do call him. He is literally my human FAQ. And, and I can tell you that he is absolutely right. And in some of the instances in terms of how we can get on board with AI, but I would add another layer, I think a great way to get on board is to actually start here with voice and voice technology, because you actually have a significant user base that you can push to to an audience. And that says something very dramatic. And so my second provocation for you would be this 30% of all searches. By the end of four years, this came out in 2016 will be done without a screen. 30% of all searches are going to happen without a screen in four years. And again, the Trojan horse on this slide is the fact that I'm not lazy, but this is from 2000 60 and I haven't changed it because the data hasn't changed. That's the end of this year. I haven't changed it because the data is true. How is this happening? Because people, you and me, I'm sure we are doing searches like this instead of typing it in, are you not? Are you doing that? Are you asking your device for stuff without typing it in? So you tell me what that means to you as a marketer. Now, if 30% of all the searches that people are doing on your business are now happening by voice question number one is, are they say this? Do they say the same things that they typed? The answer is No, they don't. The other answer is are you even present if they are looking for you? So these are the sort of things we have to start taking an embracing right now there is a reality that is very, very present. And there is fact and truth behind this because right now we are starting to see people like Google Talk about the fact that voice is actually replacing keyword data. And so you're starting to see this sort of thing happen, but I've seen this story A million times before and I'm here to say to you one word two of you, if it's hyphenated Wake up, wake up. This is the same thing. I was yelling at people back in 1990 something about why you need a website and people were like, I don't know if the internet's gonna be a thing or not.
I was there. I was there when people thought I own What do I need Facebook? I don't need social media. That's stupid. I should have a private and a personal Pro. I never going to type with my thumbs. That's ridiculous. Why would I don't email on my phone? I just go to my right. This is your wake up call. You're hearing not just for artificial intelligence. It's a wake up call that this is happening. Now it's in it's going to impact your business. Go Go tell your boss as a head of marketing, that tomorrow 30% of all our searchers are now rendered useless because we have no strategy around voice. Go see how your next eval goes and your next potential to get a bonus or whatever is happening in your life. Like this is the reality of where we're at right now. And we're starting to see that it's not only that, but it's getting more and more serious. I always say you can ignore the technology and believe the hype cycle all you want, but the minute commerce becomes engaged, you better wake up. And that's what's happening now. And this is all new data. This came out in July of this year. So here we sit now where 31 million Americans are going to shop BUY SMART speaker in this year. This is the reality of it and look at the change percentage, you can see how it's moving and the direction that it's happening. Whether you like millennials or hate millennials, whether you are a millennial or not really relevant to me, what is relevant is that you have a significant percentage of them almost half basically saying that while I'm shopping, I do use voice to figure stuff out. These are signals all of these are signals that are happening to you and to me and for us to realize what can we do with this? Now here's the other piece of data that I saw about voice that was really staggering to me and it's quite subtle. This that people who actually shopped through voice assistance spend more period hard stop and the sentence Why? Why would you spend more? Using a voice assistant technology or smart speaker? The answer is really simple. Did you spend more or less when Amazon introduced one click shopping? More right it was so easy like you have to put in your name and your address and then re put in your out your billing address and all this stuff. It was like click by click Buy Oh, this is fun, right? human beings were super sophisticated. Bye bye. And that's what's happening voice makes it much easier than one click shopping. And so the people who are using it are actually spending more and they're buying more through it because it's so easy and intuitive to use. If we go back to I think it was last summer, maybe the summer before. It was just after Apple had done their big iPhone launch and I love the media. I'm a member of the media sometimes and I follow them. median, I studied the media. And I can tell you that I'm always fascinated by how the news cycle and the hype cycle works in media. And one of the things I always see is the excitement around an iPhone launch. And we know it and it's still here. 10 versions later, and we're all excited like what's next? But what happens shortly after the last iPhone launch, the major one is that Amazon had a product launch. I watched the Amazon product launch and my reaction was, Oh, I feel really bad for Apple. This is not gonna, this can't go well. They launched so much cool stuff like a multitude of amazing new and different products, not just one phone, but just thing after thing. I was just like, when the when is this thing going to be over? It felt like I was on the prices, right? If you remember that show, it's like, and there's more behind that. Like there's just more and more stuff coming. And one of the things they launched was echo Auto 25 bucks, and you can now have Alexa voice technology enabled in your car. But they didn't just sell it. They didn't do a pre sale. If you actually look at the button here. You have to request an invitation to potentially be able to buy this thing. And so of course what happens with this is the cynics or the cynics, but other people are like this is really interesting. How did it play out? Not that long after they launched it. They actually came out and said that over a million people have pre ordered this for their car. That's a good appetite. That's a good way to test whether or not this $20 device which is super cheap is going to work. But that's not all. There was more that they released. They also came out with this an Amazon basics their own private label microwave for 50 bucks. Alexa enabled microwave, Alexa enabled. Microwave. I know what you're thinking. Alexa, popcorn, right is amazing. Party was like that's amazing a party or like how lazy have we become as a society that I need to tell Alexa to like?
Get out. unfreeze my mess?
One is put that aside and think about it from purely an accessibility standpoint, voice technology is going to change accessibility like no other technology before, this is an amazing thing to see. I've actually been working in a maybe startup that My Next Move that's involved in voice and we were talking to a large pharma that was dealing with an arthritis strain of arthritis. And they were super interested in this because the people who suffer from this form of arthritis, they can't really get their fingers and stuff on the smartphone, it's really complex, but their ability to use their voice to connect could be a game changer in terms of asking for help measuring their pain levels, be getting reminders about their medication, and on and on and on. And so it suddenly becomes this game changer. But now think about it from just what's going on here. Do I really need my microwave to know that you know, to be able to speak to it for popcorn? And the answer is maybe but I think it's a signal and the signal that Amazon On ascending, and Google and Apple and others, is this is very, very cheap and intuitive and easy to use technology. And we're going to put it in everything. And it's going to be in every single room and it's going to surround you. I'll get to the privacy concerns later. But that's what it is it is the market pushing it in a way that says, we're going to have Connect connectivity truly everywhere through devices, which is very different than how we think about technology traditionally, isn't that it's like the hub and the router. But now it's going to be embedded in this and it's going to be connecting rooms in which ways in which we could never have imagined. And so when we think about voice, we also have to think about it not in terms of where it's coming from. Which device is it my watch? Is it my phone isn't my microwave, but spaces.
What spaces would this occupy and what we're starting to see is that spaces are very dramatic and we're starting to see winners and losers. Like there are big winners with voice speakers in the kitchen. There are big winners with voice obviously seen the car hands free, we've had stuff like OnStar for a while already. There's big winners with it in what we'll call general family areas. It could be a den, a living room, a reading room, places like that. So we are starting to even see it in places. By the way, don't get squeamish in the bathroom. It's really really popular. People like it to ask for the weather or news briefing or whatever it might be in the morning. We'll talk about how it's listening to that too, at another point in the conversation, because it is. But think about that. When was the last time you thought about new technology and its evolution based off of the spaces that it occupies. And so the provocation that I will give you third is it's going to occupy spaces that we could never have imagined possible. I was doing a speech not that long ago in Phoenix, and I walked into my hotel room and I it was an Instagram mobile moment. And this was my Instagram mobile moment. This was on my night table. And I know what move number one is. If you walk into a hotel room and there's an Alexa there, it's like, unplug, how do you power this down. The last thing I need these devices listening to is me. in a hotel room, right? But think about it from a business application. Think about it from an ease of use. perspective. replenishment is a huge issue in the hotel business replenishment. What are they replenishing in rooms very, very often. remote controls, phones, thermostat. What else could we go through that you could now use voice to navigate I mean, imagine walking into room being able to control the temperature. You don't need the phone anymore. You can call the concierge you can call somebody else you can control the music in the room. You can control your TV with me go on and on. How much does one of these devices costs we just had Prime Day 20 bucks, 40 bucks. That's if you're buying it retail. What if you're the Fairmont buying it wholesale? You're buying them in stacks. What does it cost to put this What does that do to your replenishment model, it plummets to the ground. You're talking about five devices in one room that cost these hotels, millions upon millions of dollars that could be gone and at the same time, create an ease of use for others. The actual person who's staying in the room, because it's much easier and intuitive to do this, you could have one track that's speaking directly to your hotel services, you give them another track that maybe even just plugs into your own account. So you have all your stuff that you would anywhere in your home, settling your hotel room, think about that from a usage standpoint, and it's very, very staggering. I know what you're saying. I get it, the tall guy, bald dressed in black is here to talk to us about the future. And we're not there yet. But I'm here to tell you that they're being more aggressive than they might even lay claim. People were asking how many people are working on this technology at Amazon? How many people are working on this technology at Google? While the answer came out? It turns out that at Amazon, they have 10,000 people right now working on just Alexa. Can I repeat that for you? 10,000 people are working on Alexa alone. There's about 2000 job openings in this product line alone right now. And so the good news, bad news is They're pushing forward. The bad news is, are we ready for it? And the sort of thing in the middle is the content. What are you getting on this stuff? When people ask me about voice tech smart audio, as I call it, I often tell them that right now we're just a bunch of dominatrix. All we are barking commands at it. It's all we're doing that all the time it is it was one of my next appointment with it. Like you're not really like having a relationship in loving, interactive relationship with this stuff. You're just barking commands often it's like a dog responding to you, because you're just yelling at it all the time. And what we are seeing on the content side is some interesting glimpses of what we would what I would call truly interactive, or truly smart audio. One example is this gimlet has chompers. If you have young kids, you'll be grabbing this skill as soon as possible if you have a smart speaker, and basically what it is, is your kids go to brush their teeth, and you turn on chompers and it's not instructing them on how to brush their teeth, but it is basically a two minute story so that they brush their teeth for the full time. length of the skill. And it does tell them at intervals to shift from the bottom to the right or left to right or up or down. And it's not boring. It's actually really, really fun, awesome content. If you have kids, I highly recommend it. Suddenly Your kids will be brushing for the period they're supposed to, and the right spaces. So that's good news.
Could you do that on a podcast? You could in theory, you could. And they do. You can download it as a podcast. But it is much more interactive when you're using the voice component of it. And what we're starting to now see is the beginning of the proliferation of these voice skills. So voice skills are simply apps on smart devices. They're called skills. And this is where the world's at as of June of this year, you've got about 60,000 skills currently in the Alexa skill store or the App Store. Is that a lot? Are you surprised that there's 60,000 skills that everybody just leave? Is that a lot Do you think just nod is that a lot like, I actually look at it and go i see i Jim, I don't think it's a lot Don't think as long as 60,000 websites a lot. Like that's how we have to benchmark it, how many apps are in the app store? So what I'm trying to show you is this content gap or vacuum presents a huge opportunity to you to get there now, when these devices and technology at 3.2 billion is already installed, or 250 million or less speakers are there, and where there's just not enough great content that you can and should be capitalizing on at any given moment that I think that moment is right now. And so provocation number four, is this. It's a very weird place to be with 3.25 billion, divide the deployments of technology and have no killer app. There is no email yet that's the killer app of computer. There is no Facebook, there is no Instagram. There is none of that there is no killer app. I'm telling you, we can go around the room and ask everybody who uses this voraciously. And we There is no killer app, the stuff is good. It's interesting, but there's not a killer yet. You may have that idea. I don't know, I might have that idea. We'll see. But that presents to me and to you, hopefully through projection, a huge opportunity and win for you from a marketing perspective. And I think in the content play world, we're also starting to see areas that could be valuable. One of them being wellness. One of them being I don't want to call it a kids because that's, that can be a very strange thing to talk about, especially as a marketing professional, but I call it families. I think there's a huge family opportunity. And the other one is in places like kitchens and cooking and stuff like that. Now, you might be sitting there going, I'm not in any of those spaces. That's okay. Just think about how it starts and then how it's going to proliferate. Because right now, these are the easier lowest hanging fruits that figure out smart content plays for this. I'll give you some examples in terms of the health space, to show you how far it's going. I'm going To show you them primarily from a b2b side to to get some energy going. One is right now there is this development of Alexa's ability to tell whether or not you're having a heart attack. How would it know that? It know that by setting your your speech, your breathing patterns, how you're talking what you're talking about, literally, they've developed this technology that because it's listening, it will be able to gauge whether or not you may be in trouble. Maybe you're slurring words, who knows what it might be. But that's the type of sort of deep tech that people are thinking about building and embedding into this voice technology, you can start seeing your artificial intelligence and machine learning, thinking about how this is going to work really rapidly. The other thing we're starting to see is that again, when you talk about aging populations and the ease of which it is to use voice, it's going to be transformative in terms of stuff like this. Imagine having a hearing aid device that was Alexa enabled as well. Like it makes perfect sense now that you think about it could actually be speaking to it. give you directions imagine if you were visually impaired. And you could have these devices in your ears and would actually be able to guide you a little bit better give you more information. This is going to require high levels of datasets and AI is going to play a huge factor in it. But it's leading us down a path where you're not going to be able to see feel or sense the technology like we used to write like, ah, can't you just feel the technology wafting through this beautiful room. But there's a lot of technology here, there really is, even though she's reading a very modern technology called the book.
You'll notice here the thermostat and you'll notice here for fire detection, smoke detection, and those are obviously connected devices nest or what have you. And now this is all sort of coming together. And we've labeled this right, we've called this what we call this, we call this the connected home. And so we know that we sort of go like okay, 1.0 We're at the connected home, we get that that makes sense. But what we see through this sort of adoption of these health technologies and modern technologies, think about your friends bits, think about your watches, think about your ability to measure your own life and where things are at, from your health, to your performance to all that stuff. We've gone from the connected home to having this idea of the Connect itself. And what happens is, if you can think, a little bit ahead of yourself, you can see what the emergence is, or what that convergence is, rather than the convergence of that home and self is that we lead to this idea of that connected life. And I really think that if we can think of that perspective of voice being the new mobile and how that's going to come through, there's going to be a tremendous power that's going to happen in this idea of the connected light because it's true. Most of us have these devices or some of us do, and all you're doing is telling it to turn on the lights or turn them off or play stupid song. And I get it it's easier for my kid to pull up Drake on their smart speaker than it is to find an Apple Music and remember my password or Spotify or whatever happens, but that's not the real gist of it. And so how I like to look at voice now is it sort of feels like it's, we're in the parlor trick mode, like, you know, friends over like, watch this. Alexa, turn on my lights, turn off my blinds, turn on the alarm, whatever it might be, and it does it. It's like, again, your dominatrix is just listening to your commands. But what's going to happen and it's happening now is that voice is the gateway to all technology being the remote control for our lives. And that's going to have a very dramatic change in how we market and how we connect and how we tell stories. Before I start on content plays and I talked about families, not just kids. And I want to give you an example that I think will illuminate for you where this can go and the power of it. How many of you are trying to deal with this situation currently at home? Kids are on the screens too friggin much, right. We're on the screens more but whatever. Fine. Not like we set models or anything for our kids. When we're at the kitchen table doing this. You're like why are they on the screens all the time? I have no idea Whether on screens all the time, what do you what do you eat, right? And so this is a huge thing that we're all dealing with. And it's happening at school again, my kids go to some pretty pretty fairly progressive schools, and there's a lot of screen time. And it's just a function of the teachers being, we don't want our kids to be left behind. We need them to be up on this technology. But think about voice philosophically for a second. What happens if we're sitting around the kitchen table or sitting in the living room? And suddenly I can take my kid on a guide to the galaxy? by voice? What if we could play a game together? Through Alexa or through Google Home what you can do, which is voice Well, now suddenly, it's like Let's play a game and they go great. Yeah, let's play a game. Here we go fortnight, you know, like they're playing a game. But now they're actually looking at you and they're doing all the things we say we should do. Voice does that. Right? Like too much screentime pushes us to this amazing, other provocation. The fifth provocation that I would give you as we are heading Not to a voice first world actually. But I really do believe that we're pushing towards the nose screen world. And that nose screen world is going to create a whole different dichotomy of challenges and opportunities for us. But it's real. Right? Like my ability to even leave my hotel without my phone. Now I just have most of it on the watch is real primarily, answer the phone, check messages, do all that. But when I'm controlling it with my voice, or I'm able to or I can do a call out to whatever technology is here and have it interact with me, it's going to change the game dramatically. And so there is truly a brand struggle here. And the brand struggle at a macro level is that brand marketers are very much like squirrels look and not what over there were no squirrel. What. That's how we are like we love shiny objects. Most people probably walked in here in our thinking about the four pillars of how they're going to develop their marketing tomorrow, which is Instagram, Shopify, Facebook, tech talk, I don't know what else is coming next. But that's how we think it's like that's what's shiny and bright. So let's go there. Anybody who knows me might know that I removed Snapchat, right? It's like, now we're on to tick tock, I guess. Okay, let's talk about I don't know what it is. But we're going to talk about because marketers are attracted to the show sort of shiny, bright objects.
But I think if we can look at voice in a different perspective, what you will see is a bigger brand opportunity than just chasing a channel. And that's really the idea here. What I'm trying to do is, is is massage you into this idea that it's almost like an entirely new internet is right here for us to access and connect with and use. And so if you can think about it that way, will lead to what I think is the biggest provocation I have for you today. Which is this. Everybody in this room is worried about their brand voice correct. What is your brand voice? How does it how did how does your logo emote? With your values and your messages? How does it tie into your products and services and your price? Single, where it's positioned, and how it is in the marketplace and how it all looks and ties together. I think we are at a moment in time. It's an inflection point where we will not only have this idea of brand voice, but now we have this new introduction of the voice brand. And we're gonna have to get very good at this very, very quickly. And all of us will have to have a voice brand. Is it male? Is it female? Is it androgynous? Is it an upbeat? Is it a more somber or serious like you will have to have a fit as a celebrity? You will have to have a manifestation a true visceral manifestation of your voice for your brand. And that will be the voice brand. Think about it from an inbound voice brand strategy. Someone proactively goes hey, Alexa, hey Siri, I need some insurance. What do you recommend? What's your voice? What's your response? What does it sound like? Can you even write They're so inbound, as people are actively making requests for your industry, maybe your brand directly to, hopefully you and not your competitors, because now we're in that 30% gap here where people are more and more doing this and making these requests. The next side is you need an outbound voice brand. What are we proactively doing? To not just capture what people are asking but to provide value? Right, a website wasn't just a repository to respond to queries. Your website was also a manifestation, a demonstration of what the brand truly is. So what's the outbound voice strategy? And then obviously, you have to figure out the harder world, which is in a world of Amazons and Googles and apples. What is the paid voice strategy? How do you get ranked number one, if you can't do it organically? What's the Earned one? Can you do it organically because there's so much opportunity and such a lack of content, maybe you can gain and capture field opportunities right now. And then, of course, it sort of shuttles back to what I said I would come back back to earlier, which is the privacy problem. And it's a problem. I mean, you're not dealing with just the internet and just dark and bad actors. You're dealing with infrastructures and massive organizations that are doing some pretty stupid things. They're really smart. And their leaders are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. But this is what's going on right now. Amazon admits that Alexa saves your conversations even after you delete them. Yeah, I don't think that's what delete means. I'm not so sure. I slept a lot in school, not that part. Right? Or you have this world. Where is Alexa illegally recording children, Amazon super allegedly storing conversations without consent. Awkward. Google's not doing that much better. By the way. It's not like I'm just grabbing recent headlines to show you that there are real and true privacy concerns. Why? Why do we have privacy concerns? We have privacy concerns, because it's not just the conversations we have, but it's what's being done with them. We've been beating the data horse to death all morning. So I'm going to spin it in a bit of a different direction, which is understanding that these people, and when I say these people, I often mean marketers to, we have to be in a different world of data. My former boss, who actually acquired my agency as sir Martin Sorrell, formerly of WP P. So I guess we're both now formerly of WP dB. But this is what he said the biggest battleground at present is the control of data. He's right. If you think about why this emergent of direct to consumer brands is so big, it's the fact that they're capturing real powerful first party data. It's really truly what they're doing. And everybody wants a piece of this from the agencies to the platforms to the to the to the brands themselves. And so what we have to do is recognize that in a world where we can't necessarily control what Apple or Google or Facebook are going to do with this data, much like we don't really know what they're going to do with your credit card. We're just sort of trusting that they're going to be good actors. I'm not saying that's right or wrong.
I'm not saying that requires government regulation or not. I'm just saying it is is the reality of the world that leads us to being in a place where we can do something about it. And the thing we can do about it, which would be my seventh provocation to you today is simply this, that we can be good data shepherds, we can decide if we're going to create this stuff and have people come to us through the power of voice and through the power of artificial intelligence, or whatever it might be, you have the power to decide, you have the power to decide that you're going to put forward into the market, a real up in your customers face statement about what you are going to be using their data for. And what you cannot control because it's on Amazon, or it's on another platform. You can do this, we can do this as a powerful place to be as a marketer, like I don't know what to do, like I was getting hacked and no one's getting stolen. Everyone's doing bad stuff. You don't have to write you could actually take a stance and take a market lead position and being the Good Shepherd in that space, which I think is really, really powerful. And so what is this AI connection it's a connection between voice and AI. One is for good or bad right now, if you were in the voice space and you're looking for funding, you fall under the AI bucket. So that's good news, because you're not falling into the media bucket, which is not good news. So why why is this falling into that? It's falling into that because there is a reality and a depth of this technology that we have to be able to understand, which is we cannot control every single query that's coming in. And therefore we can't necessarily control fundamentally every single answer. It is too hard. If I said, you go forth, go forth and build myself a skill. Like just answer every question. Everybody might ask you in every single permutation that you'd be like, I don't, what do we do? Are we renting a studio forever to do this? How are we doing this? Right? It's gonna require AI to do this. Right. Alexa, what's the best plumber in Cleveland? Alexa, what's the bet? I mean, go on through every single question you might get asked And the answer to that question has to be correct. Otherwise, it sucks. And then people won't use it. And then the whole thing dies. Right? You don't remember this? I do. I was actually helping to develop a search engine before Google existed. And I can tell you, it's a meta search engine that search sucked. Anything you looked for, we built this engine because you couldn't find answers to basic stuff. So we had to grab stuff from Yahoo, Lycos, Alta Vista. Oh, yeah, I'm going old school on you. I've got them all. I could keep going. That we built that search engine until Google came along and really figured out the algorithm. And what they figured out isn't just the right answer. What they figured out is a testament to what has to happen right now and why AI is such an important part of voice, which is that it has to be not only right, it has to be extremely fast. And it has to sound human. Yes, Mitch, the best wrestler like oh my god, like when you hear that fake voice right away in your brain, you're like, You're not even paying attention. Like that's a fake voice. Didn't hear the answer because all I hear is fake voice. Right. Like we're humans, it's natural. And so AI is going to be the answer to this. AI is going to be what trains and grows this voice technology from the world of dominatrix into the world of interaction and empathy. And truly, like, truly relational in terms of how you speak in build marketing platforms, and it's going to be very, very, very powerful. You heard about deep fakes earlier, voice fakes are a thing, too. In fact, I think what's going to happen is we're going to have more voice fakes than deep fakes, sooner than later because video is actually a bit harder to fake, especially if you look at the eyes and the mouth. It's hard, like, the videos look good. But when you really start watching me like something's off, it's a great video games like something's off, Something's Weird. With voice, it's much harder. It still
sucks. But it's much harder and it's getting better and better. A great example. I would encourage you to go onto YouTube and check out this which is real talk, where they recreated Joe Rogan's voice using AI only and you You're gonna hear moments where you're like, That's not right. That's not exactly right. But for the most part, it's really even Joe Rogan was like, hands down, that was crazy to hear. So if you want to sort of see what's happening in this world, you can see it happening. The other reason why we need AI is because it's not just about it, giving me the right answer faster in a human way. It might also be based off of language, that's gonna be the what I think will be one of the killer apps is the fact that you can ask it something in any language and get back an answer in any language that you can that you can instant translate that will instantly be able to switch from language to language. You may not think this is hugely important, but I live in Montreal, where it is French and English. And it is by law that way. In fact, it's by law, French, and then a little bit of English if you're lucky. And I can tell you that having any form of these AI is now that we're seeing in terms of language driven, their biggest challenge is actually being fluid to switch from language to language. They can't they almost have to do like a reboot on the system to make it work. So there's a lot of runway to go, but there's a particular reason why we need to have AI Hear. And if we're pushing voice forward in AI, you're starting to see the real combination happen right now. And the first combination is happening in what is the multimodal world. multimodal simply means that it's video and audio at the same time. So right now you see that and things like the brand new echo show five, which is right here, you can get out prime days here so you can get it cheaper. But that's going to be another thing is having them as like alarm clocks, as desktop counters, or it's embedded in the TV, or have the voice technologies embedded on your laptop or on your tablet or on your phone and on and on like it is. And the multimodal thing is going to create a whole other different world of interactions obviously, won't just be like a voice because you'll be able to also interact with the video and have it go back and forth in a very different and dramatic way, which creates an entirely new brand experience on top of that. I also do believe that the real beast of voice is going to be b2b. If you think about mobile workforces and governments and operations and just using this technology to really move even Salesforce came out and recently talks about how they've got this voice enabled Einstein now. I mean, we see this Don't you like when you're texting you sort of use your voice instead of typing in, it's just much more intuitive. So we're seeing that really push towards and again, this is Einstein is Salesforce is AI engine that's using it. The other thing we have to recognize as we push this forward is we have to choose our leaders. And we have to choose wisely because now we know what they're up to. But we have to choose leaders. This isn't this is not the internet. Voice is not the internet is sitting within corporations that generate a lot of revenue, and they are the ones that are developing and deploying this technology at scale. And again, I'm kind of an old guy, and I guess I'm revealing my age, but it does really feel to me like a VHS versus beta moment right now. Like who is it going to be? Is it going to be Apple's product? Is Siri going to be the Dark Horse here and come out and be the one? Is it going to be Alexa? Is it going to be Google Home? It's hard to say I mean, Alexa is doing really well in the States but I can tell you on the smart speaker side doing better at Google is actually doing much better in Canada. We as marketers, and we, as developers, and
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Sandie Young was formerly the Director of Marketing at Ready North. She started at the agency during the summer of 2012, with experience in magazine journalism and a passion for content marketing. Sandie is a graduate of Ohio University, with a Bachelor of Science from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.