Alexa Conference 2019: Live Stream, Takeaways, and Most Requested Chart about Smart Speakers

The Alexa Conference just wrapped. Get top takeaways, Emily’s short livestream interview with VoiceFirst.FM, and the most popular chart of the conference.

Smart Speaker Penetration - Most Powerful Chart

Several people have asked me for this chart from my presentation, How to Crawl into Your Customer’s Ear - The Alexa Conference 2019. Bret Kinsella’s opening keynote included it too, as did a few others. I did not create the chart but I’m sharing it from the publicly available Activate Tech and Media Outlook 2018 Slideshare. If you need to convince your boss that voice is a thing, send them this:

Smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology of all time, forecasted in 2018 to reach nearly 50% penetration in the U.S. in less than five years. This chart is tracking to be an accurate prediction. Chart courtesy of Activate, U.S. Census Bureau, World Bank.

Smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology of all time, forecasted in 2018 to reach nearly 50% penetration in the U.S. in less than five years. This chart is tracking to be an accurate prediction. Chart courtesy of Activate, U.S. Census Bureau, World Bank.

Livestream - Emily Binder interview with Ian Utile for VoiceFirst.FM

Click to watch (01:39 minutes) or press play below:

Best takeaways from The Alexa Conference 2019:

#AlexaConf2019

Tweet from Brian Roemmele about my best voice marketing advice: you need a sonic brand ASAP.

Tweet from Brian Roemmele about my best voice marketing advice: you need a sonic brand ASAP.

Katie McMahon from SoundHound shared some great info about the power of Houndify and the connected car.

Katie McMahon from SoundHound shared some great info about the power of Houndify and the connected car.

Our friends from Nebo Agency came up from Atlanta. Read Founder Brian Easter’s article:  The Next Disruption: Voice Tech and the Buyer Journey

Our friends from Nebo Agency came up from Atlanta. Read Founder Brian Easter’s article: The Next Disruption: Voice Tech and the Buyer Journey

“When we have diverse tech teams, racial profiling and gender bias won’t even make it to production.” -Kesha Williams, Senior Software Manager, Chik-Fil-A (overall keynote speaker)

“When we have diverse tech teams, racial profiling and gender bias won’t even make it to production.” -Kesha Williams, Senior Software Manager, Chik-Fil-A (overall keynote speaker)

Brielle Nickoloff with Witlingo gets it: we have a pristine, quiet place with voice right now - so take advantage with marketing your brand early. It will get crowded like the bloody red sea that is the rest of the internet - fast. Brielle and I did a live audio Castlingo from the conference -  enable the Emily Talks skill then say “Alexa, launch Emily Talks” to hear it.

Brielle Nickoloff with Witlingo gets it: we have a pristine, quiet place with voice right now - so take advantage with marketing your brand early. It will get crowded like the bloody red sea that is the rest of the internet - fast. Brielle and I did a live audio Castlingo from the conference - enable the Emily Talks skill then say “Alexa, launch Emily Talks” to hear it.

Jen Lehner shared one of my favorite pieces of content via Brian Roemmele: David Bowie predicting the future in 1999. Powerful.

Jen Lehner shared one of my favorite pieces of content via Brian Roemmele: David Bowie predicting the future in 1999. Powerful.

Notice that Alexa (Echo) isn’t the center of this photo. It’s in the upper corner. Peripheral. That’s where we’re headed: ubiquity of voice assistants. (My reflection on this slide from Paul Cutsinger of Amazon at The Alexa Conference 2019 - Chattanooga, TN).

Notice that Alexa (Echo) isn’t the center of this photo. It’s in the upper corner. Peripheral. That’s where we’re headed: ubiquity of voice assistants. (My reflection on this slide from Paul Cutsinger of Amazon at The Alexa Conference 2019 - Chattanooga, TN).

#VoiceFirst Community and Thank You

It was great meeting so many of the smart, forward-thinking people who make up the #voicefirst community. It is one of the most exciting, supportive, diverse, and pro-women communities in tech. Thank you to Bradley Metrock, Peggy Kilburn, and the VoiceFirst.FM and Score Publishing teams for putting this event together. See you soon!

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What’s the Sound of Your Brand? VoiceFirst Marketing

Packaging will take on new meaning for brands, expanding from visuals into sound. Logos and text won’t be enough in a voicefirst world.

In the next couple years, the visual look and feel of a brand will not be enough to compete. Packaging will be more sensory and holistic. It will feature sound. Marketers will compete for mindshare and attention in a new way: beyond the screen, in the air.

Visual Packaging

Brands have spent billions on visual identities. For marketers, zeroing in on the ideal look for our brand has been paramount. We’ve rebranded and focus grouped or crowdsourced new logos or containers, meeting with delight or vitriol (everyone’s outraged these days). We’ve designed and tested retail packaging with great attention. Smart brands have realized that the packaging that helps you compete when placed next to a competitor on a shelf is often overkill for ecommerce packaging. Similarly, sonic packaging must be approached as a different animal for a customer at a different point in the funnel.

The impulse to buy operates on fundamental human instincts. It’s ultimately simple and deeply rooted in the brain. Help customers avoid loss to survive (best) or achieve gains to thrive (still good).

The impulse to buy operates on fundamental human instincts. It’s ultimately simple and deeply rooted in the brain. Help customers avoid loss to survive (best) or achieve gains to thrive (still good).

Let’s talk about packaging. As voice becomes more prominent as the way in which we interact with machines, a brand’s package will need to be increasingly sonic. This goes beyond your audio logo or the person you hire to be the voice of your brand. Just as users scan a website and have an emotional response within milliseconds, we process audio even faster than visuals. Sound moves through our brains faster than any other sense – it is our first sense.

We process sounds in 0.05 seconds. That is ten times faster than the blink of an eye.

You are reading this right now but if you were listening to my voice, you would perceive richer meaning and you’d process it faster and more naturally. All of this is to say that your sonic brand packaging will require great creativity and care. The sound of your brand will be instantly judged on a level that humans are hardwired to process fast.

If you thought marketing became more challenging in the last decade due to competition for attention on multiple screens with flying newsfeeds and short attention spans, wait until we begin to compute more with voice and less with hands.

upward-view-phone-hand.jpg

We will shift away from the manipulative, ad-supported revenue models that social media companies (including this platform) have relied upon with unwitting users’ data as the product. People are tired of shrouded privacy policies.

Hear my 15-minute podcast about the changes we can expect from social giants like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

Engaging customers will require more creativity and true brand strategy as voice takes precedence.

And voice will take precedence. Smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology since the smartphone. In 2018, voice purchases increased 3x on Alexa over last holiday season. Voice assistants are 1.0 today. Just wait. They’ll get smarter, more anticipatory, and more contextual in a way that a screen just can’t. Until now we’ve been computing in computerese, as Brian Roemmele put it. Typing is not natural or easy for us. Our brains are lazy by design – we gravitate toward ease of use. Your customers want hassle reduction and less friction. Meet them there, and start now.

In a voicefirst world, tactics won’t be enough. It will be harder to trick clicks because we won’t be clicking so much. Deeper strategy including true assistance will make the difference.

“Join the conversation” will become literal

“Personalized” and “intimate” will take on a whole new meaning when we go beyond passive visual consumption and start having a literal conversation. Tap, type, and swipe will become talk, listen, and solve.

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Case Study: Ritholtz Wealth Management Voice Marketing Strategy

In 2018 we began working with Ritholtz Wealth Management on a voice marketing strategy to get their foot in the door of the Alexa ecosystem. As trailblazer in blogging and social media in the finance and investing space, Ritholtz wanted to beat the crowd to voice, too.

Market Moment is an Alexa Flash Briefing we created for Ritholtz, a New York City RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) run by two of the most online-savvy and established advisors in the industry: Barry Ritholtz (Masters in Business podcast and Bloomberg) and Josh Brown (The Reformed Broker). They wanted to be first in voice in their space - and now they are.

IN ITS FIRST MONTH, MARKET MOMENT ORGANICALLY BECAME THE FASTEST GROWING BRIEFING IN THE ALEXA SKILL BUSINESS CATEGORY.

Based on the popular “Today In Market History” tweets from @RitholtzWealth, Market Moment hosted by “Downtown” Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) is a 5-star briefing packed with great information about business and the market.

Ritholtz has been a blast to work with, hands-on, ahead of the curve, and excited to invest in voice.

COMING SOON:

We are gearing up to launch a first-of-its-kind custom voice skill about investing based on The Compound YouTube channel.