Most APAC consumers using voice tech now

iProspect says brands must get on board now with one of the industry’s most rapidly developing trends.

Close to two-thirds of Asia-Pacific consumers have used or are using voice technology today, according an in-depth study from iProspect.

Produced in partnership with insights consultancy Idstats, ‘The Future is Voice Activated’ is based on a survey just over 1,800 smartphone owners aged 18 to 50 in six APAC markets: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore.

Among several other insights, the report found that 62% of those surveyed used voice-activated technology in the last six months, and 56% said their usage had increased in the last six months. Most telling for brands, however, is that 95% of respondents said they intend to continue using voice services in the next 12 months.

“The transformative impact of voice technology is being felt across the globe,” said Joanna Catalano, iProspect APAC CEO. “Brands who aren’t reacting to this burgeoning technology risk becoming invisible sooner than they think across key customer touch points.”

India’s frequency of usage

Of the markets surveyed, India (82% voice adoption) and China (77%) were the clear emergent growth markets. Together with Indonesia, the three countries make up the ‘dynamic’ growth markets, while Australia, Japan and Singapore are classified as ‘conservative’ growth markets.

China’s list of activities voice is used for

Japan has the lowest voice adoption of the countries surveyed, with only 40% usage. The study found that embarrassment, among other things, and slow uptake of devices such as personal assistants are likely key factors for the slow growth.

Japan’s reasons of not using voice

Japan’s technology adoption

Source: campaignasia.com; 24 Aug 2018

Make your ads sound clever: Why sound branding matters

The way sounds are used can have a profound impact on consumers’ response to brands, with recent research revealing the extent and depth of the effect they can have.

If you need proof that sound profoundly affects a branding experience, look up Tupperware’s mandoline ads on YouTube.

One of the versions on its US and Canada channel is set to crashing electronic music and is unwatchable. Another, under the name Mandochef on its Asian channel, uses exactly the same visuals but is set to gentler music composed for the ad, with satisfying sound effects (below). The latter has more than 10 times the viewers of the US version.

Sound branding is not a new concept but the results of recent research and the rise of voice as a platform are pushing brands to use it at a new level. It is thanks to this research that the reason the mellower version of the Tupperware ad is more satisfying to watch can be identified.

“Our brains love it when what we see and hear are aligned. Conversely, our brains find it distracting and upsetting when it’s out of sync,” Heather Andrew, chief executive of neuro-research company Neuro-Insight, explains.

Two years ago, Thinkbox commissioned Neuro-Insight to explore links between TV advertising creative and memory. One of the findings from this analysis, which involved mapping the brain responses to more than 200 TV ads, was that when music and visuals synced up well, the brain generated a 14% higher memory-encoding response.

“John Lewis ads do this particularly well; they often re-record tracks to better suit the visuals,” Andrew adds.

Neuro-Insight also found that the brain prefers it when music’s emotional resonance matched that of the ad’s story and visuals. When the researchers replaced the track for Budweiser’s 2018 Super Bowl commercial “Stand by you” (a soft and slow cover of Stand by Me by Skylar Grey) with the original more upbeat Ben E King version, the results were dramatic.

“We found a dramatic difference in the brain responses to the two different ads—the brain was struggling to connect the Ben E King version with the visual storyline it was seeing,” Andrew says.

But beyond making the brain happy to stimulate memory, what if brands could use music or sound to alter brainwaves, inducing a desired state? Sound branding agency Soundscape and hotel chain CitizenM are in the process of testing this theory.

“There is neuroscience research that suggests by mimicking a brain’s oscillations, you could trigger certain states, such as sleeping or focus. It’s a form of hypnotherapy if it works,” Ollie Humphries, founder of Soundscape, explains.

Working with artists and neuroscientists, Soundscape has composed music tracks for CitizenM aimed at solving three traveller problems: jetlag, focus and the fear of flying.

“Neuroscientists are testing out how our tracks perform against general music you find on Spotify labelled ‘sleep’ or ‘focus’. If it works, we’ll distribute it through the hotels and on Spotify,” Humphries says.

BRANDS MAKING A NOISE

Ikea’s ‘braingasm’
Tapping into a phenomenon known as autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), Ikea sought to make a group of people very happy with a 25-minute commercial designed to trigger what ASMR-philes call “braingasms”.

Visa sounds out mobile

Visa found that 81% of shoppers felt safer and more secure with mobile transactions if it used sound and animation, so that’s what it did. Visa created a branded animation, sound and haptic feedback for mobiles aimed at giving customers a feeling of satisfaction.

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Nissan’s ‘singing’ cars
Nissan commissioned Man Made Sound to produce a proprietary sound for its fleet of otherwise silent electric cars. The end result – “Canto”, which means “I sing” in Italian – has a musical element and conveys a sense of the cars accelerating.

Source: campaignasia.com; 20 Aug 2018

We’re spending more time with Google than ever. Is it time to ditch Facebook?

A recent study shows that consumers are spending more time with Google than ever before, while digital consumption of Facebook is down. Should advertisers jump ship as well?

Google and Facebook have made the headlines so frequently in recent days that news about them is beginning to sound more like salacious celebrity gossip than reports about tech companies. In fact, one recent headline claims that “Google consumes one-third of our digital minds.”

The headline was inspired by a study by Brian Wieser, a researcher at Pivotal, that found consumers spent 34.2% of their time online in June using Google products, including Waze and YouTube. That number is up from 28.6% last year.

The study also suggested that the increased time spent on Google could be cutting into time spent on Facebook, since digital consumption of Facebook dropped 10%, and consumption of Instagram (a Facebook company) dropped 6%.

If consumers are no longer spending as much time on Facebook and have migrated to Google, should advertisers follow suite?

Right on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data of 87 million Facebook users was accessed in an attempt to sway the U.S. presidential election, the company was hit with billions in fines for failure to comply with new EU privacy rules. Then, a month after the GDPR took effect, it was announced that Facebook’s stock dropped 20%, losing $120 billion in value.

And most important for marketers, Facebook ads are getting more expensive, yet people seem to be less receptive. Merkle, a performance marketing agency, recently found that the cost of advertising on Facebook in Q2 has risen 70%. But advertisers may not be getting what they pay for, since the company also found that impressions were down 17% for the same period.

Google ads, on the other hand, are doing better than ever. Merkle also found that Google shopping ads were up 31%, while YouTube ad spend grew an explosive 189%. Google also accounted for 96% of organic search visits.

And while Google has also faced its share of scandals lately, including its own set of EU fines and user concerns about privacy, that doesn’t seem to be slowing down the amount of time consumers are willing to spend with the company.

So as Facebook struggles to shake its less than stellar reputation, should advertisers be moving to greener pastures?

Back in January, Mark Zuckerberg himself told advertisers that changes to the site may cause users to spend less time on the platform, resulting in less opportunities for reach with both paid and organic ads.

And while the drop in time spent on the platform, not to mention the soaring cost of advertising, may seem scary, according to Andy Taylor, associate director of research for Merkle, they’re not as dire as they seem. While impressions are down, users are clicking more than ever. Over the same period that saw a decline in impressions, total ad clicks actually increased by 20%, indicating that users are actually more interested in ads now that they’re spending less time looking at them.

According to Taylor, the soaring price of advertisements is a result of companies clamouring to be included in a limited space.

“Google makes changes by adding inventory and expanding ads. But for Facebook, there are only so many spots you can throw ads on a page.”

Expanded inventory could be coming soon

If Facebook is going to continue to grow ad revenue, it’s going to have to find a way to offer more inventory. Instagram is one channel Facebook is exploring to increase opportunities for advertisers. And while advertising on Instagram is still in a nascent stage – with mixed opinions on how much space they should fill – the popularity of the platform, which recently grew to 1 billion users, and it’s newish Stories feature provides ample opportunity for advertisers looking to experiment.

Facebook has also announced plans to focus on a “family-wide audience metric,” that unifies advertiser campaigns across all its platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.

And though it’s more expensive to advertise on Facebook than ever before, Taylor isn’t advising his clients to leave the platform.

“I don’t see advertisers fleeing from Facebook for Google,” Taylor says, “and I expect to see Facebook grow in a meaningful way over the next few quarters.

Yet Taylor also isn’t telling his clients to avoid Google. In fact, quite the opposite. While many articles and studies depict Facebook and Google as an either/or proposition, a healthy campaign should probably include both.

“It’s really about what you can afford,” Taylor says. “But the goal is to be visible on as many platforms as possible.”

Source: clickz.com; 17 Aug 2018

Google launches cross-device reporting feature

Google launches tool that can track users across devices, plus an additional line for text ads, and an app that allows public figures to address fans and stakeholders.

Advertisers, agencies, and publishers can now turn to Google Signals (GS) to track prospects, instead of devices. The new feature promises to help with the optimization of both advertising expenditure and the user experience across devices.

According to Prantik Mazumdar, CEO of Happy Marketer, cross-device advertising has been shown to increase conversions by around 40% in comparison to single-device marketing. He adds that a marketer can tailor the messaging and targeting of an ad in a more precise manner through the capability, potentially driving higher conversions.

GS is currently in beta testing and is part of wider effort to integrate the company’s web analytics service portfolio into the rebranded Google Marketing Platform, granting users the ability to base targeting on datasets generated in Google Analytics. In the age of GDPR, only users that have turned on Ads Personalization will be tracked.

“The consent-based opt-in nature of Ads Personalization means that users may be more receptive to the ads being served,” said Danish Ayub, CEO of MWM Studioz. “We could potentially save ourselves the trouble of displaying an awareness-focused ad to a prospect on all her devices. This means we can map ads to appear in a sequence of the user-awareness journey, serving new ads with every in-device impression, increasing CTR or conversions over time.”

As the bridge between the analytics and marketing capabilities of Google, GS aims to offer advertisers, agencies, and publishers a better understanding of customers across devices.

“Given the popularity and prevalence of the Google stack globally, the global rollout of Google Signals will make cross-device tracking and marketing very accessible to a lot of marketers, and they would get a step closer to taking meaningful marketing actions based on the single view of the customer,” said Mazumdar.

Source: campaignasia.com; 14 Aug 2018

Google is gaining major ground on Amazon in the smart speaker market

Since snagging an early lead in the smart speaker market with the Echo product lineup, Amazon has maintained its dominance through the second quarter of this year – but it has less breathing room than ever.

As this chart from Statista shows, Amazon is credited with shipping 41% of the 11.7 million smart speakers distributed worldwide this past quarter, with Google coming in second with 27.6% of shipments. Apple came nowhere close to either of its rivals, with the Cupertino-based giant only shipping off 5.9%.

The big takeaway: Amazon’s competitors are slowly, but surely, gaining traction in the smart speaker race. The company no longer has as big of a lead as it did in Q2 of last year.

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Source: businessinsider.sg; 20 Aug 2018

Amazon to merge its ad businesses into one platform

Amazon is quietly streamlining its ad business so that advertisers will be able to buy campaigns from the same place, whether they sell their products directly to the site or directly to its shoppers as third-party sellers.

The retailer has tried to remove the differences between how first- and third-party sellers manage campaigns for some time, but it’s now going a step further. Four media executives said Amazon is working on a consolidated platform that will fold all campaign reporting and advertising products from the Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Advertising Platform divisions into one place.

Amazon’s ad business is hard for newcomers to navigate with different divisions for businesses that sell to Amazon and for those that sell their own products on the site.

“Reps from Amazon have told me a consolidated version of its ad platform is on the way,” said one of the executives, on condition of anonymity. “Amazon’s business is manageable once you know how the platform works, but there are more brands who sit on both sides now, which makes having such a disparate offering harder for them to manage.”

During the company’s earnings last month, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky referred to barriers to growing media spending when he hinted at changes to make the ad buying process more “usable” and “automated.” Advertising helped deliver Amazon’s second consecutive high-profit quarter in the first quarter after years of unprofitable or low-profit quarters — despite many big brands still having reservations about how much of its inventory they should buy. We’ve asked Amazon for comment; we’ll update this article if they respond.

Those hybrid sellers could feel the biggest impact from the change. They often run paid search programs on both sides of Amazon’s marketplaces but have to be careful because the two platforms can compete to artificially increase bids, according to media buyers. A unified data set will help those brands avoid this issue.

Long term, Amazon centralizing its branding, content, product creation, merchandising and advertising should make it easier for brands to see the total traffic to their products and where it’s coming from, said Tod Harrick, vp of products at Marketplace Ignition.

“We believe Amazon’s primary goal is really to unify two different software tools that were built separately to create efficiencies,” Harrick said. “This happens at Amazon all the time. Amazon experiments so much that sometimes it ends up with multiple solutions for the same need and eventually will try to resolve those duplications.”

Source: digiday.com; 6 Aug 2018

Bing takes on Trivago, Google with intelligent search features

Microsoft has updated a search function in Bing, with the initial rollout fixated around the hospitality & travel industry.

A new update for Bing lets consumers view pricing trends, with the initial rollout focused around the travel and hospitality industry.

Functionally, the offering is similar to Google’s ability to offer searchers historical price trends for specific date ranges in order to assist in price-based decisions. It’s also conceptually similar to what Trivago offers for hotel seekers.

The price trend feature allows users to browse costs over a period of time, tied to a specific hotel. With this function, Bing intends to help users compare and contrast easily, with a user interface that allows multiple clicks to check the rates throughout a date range.

Available on both desktop and mobile, the new features are focused around the hospitality industry, including hotels and airlines. Similar to Trivago, the function also offers users a detailed breakdown of hotel prices, ratings, class levels, and amenities side-by-side.

Microsoft’s recent repositioning around digital transformation and focus around injecting machine learning across all consumer products is behind the recent string of Bing updates, which also included a hotel booking feature launched in May. This offers users aggregated pricing from third-party booking sites.

According to the Q4 2018 report by Microsoft, search advertising revenue through Bing Ads increased by 13% to $793 million due to higher revenue per search and search volume. The search engine and pay per click products rely on partnerships for monetization with multiple companies such as Oath. The growth of the engine is dependent on the ability to attract new users, understand search intent, and match intent with relevant content and advertiser offerings.

Source: campaignasia.com; 7 Aug 2018

How Reuters made a free personalised ‘news wire’ with app based on 5,000 niche topics

Reuters has switched its consumer strategy away from general news audiences to target professionals with a highly personalised news app designed to inform rapid business decision-making.

The new service, which went live this week, aims to replicate the scrolling experience of timelines on Facebook and Twitter, while allowing users to customise their diet of Reuters content from 5,000 hyper-niche news “feeds” on specialist topics, industry sectors, companies and individuals.

“We are allowing people to curate their own news wire,” says Isaac Showman, managing director of Reuters Consumer, in an interview with The Drum. “That’s an incredibly powerful proposition.”

By focusing on user utility and personalisation, Reuters hopes to make its news app an indispensable tool for professionals, providing a free-to-access service in a news market where specialist and trusted business information is often found behind a paywall. “It’s quite a deliberate decision – an expression that we have a commitment around serving the business professional audience,” says Showman. “We have had to rebuild everything to make this work.”

Business and show business side by side

The focus on a professional audience doesn’t mean that showbusiness news is off the Reuters agenda. “We are aiming at business professionals but it’s not just business content,” Showman says. “People will subscribe to a feed on bonds and another one on Beyoncé. People have varied interests and Reuters is famous for covering the entertainment and commodities markets with the same level of rigour and quality.”

While other news apps offer users a customised service (such as the ‘My News’ feature on the BBC News app), Reuters will hope that its depth of information and its exceptional coverage of the markets will give it an edge with professionals.

The Reuters news app, which is initially available on Apple’s iOS but will be extended to Android devices, is advertiser supported and users have the option of allowing their ads to be customised to their interests.

“The one thing we do know is that the users – with some exceptions – don’t pay for content; they pay for the benefits they get from that content.”

Source: thedrum.com; 2 Aug 2018

WhatsApp to start making money from businesses

There has been much speculation about how Facebook might monetise the messaging service since its acquisition in 2014 – with the move coming as Facebook’s own revenue begins to slow.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is finally going to start making some money with new pay-to-use tools that will let businesses talk to customers.

Via the messaging app, companies will be able to send information about products and services, such as boarding passes and delivery dates, as well as providing real-time support to help resolve issues.

WhatsApp – which Facebook bought for £11bn in 2014 – says users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, and that businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and chats “don’t get cluttered”.

Messages will cost between 0.3p and 7p depending on the country the user is in, with businesses allowed up to 24 hours to respond for free before a charge is imposed.

WhatsApp says messages will remain end-to-end encrypted and that users will be able to block businesses whenever they wish.

The move comes following Facebook’s bombshell second quarter results, which wiped £92bn from its stock market value in one go.

Shares plunged by more than 20% after the social media giant announced its slowest growth in users for over two years, with Facebook expecting its revenue growth to lose speed as users make the most of new options designed to limit advertising, while less profitable overseas markets drive growth.

Facebook claims 2.5 billion people use its apps every month, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

Instagram Stories, which already show ads, is used by around 400 million people, while 450 million use WhatsApp Status.

Around 100 companies have been testing the Status ads feature so far, including Uber and Singapore Airlines, with a full roll-out due next year.

Source: marketingweek.com; 2 Aug 2018

Voice Control Forces Marketers to Think Differently

Shift focus from promotional messaging to true utility

Consumers are becoming more comfortable using voice assistants, smart speakers and other voice-activated devices for a variety of everyday tasks. Research conducted in the US by PwC in February 2018 found that searching for information, playing music, sending messages and shopping were among the activities conducted by large percentages of voice assistant users.

As this reliance on voice-first communications grows, so too does interest among brands. Companies in all industries are experimenting to figure out how these new communication channels can help them interact with their target audiences and build brand engagement in more personalized and frictionless ways.

Voice, however, is unlike anything that’s come before, which is forcing brands to think differently about how they design their campaigns. Rather than using traditional “push” messaging, they must work harder to make brand interactions useful and valuable—or they risk becoming irrelevant.

The biggest change is that voice-first technology requires marketers to design auditory interactions, without screens or keyboards. “When you do a visual search on a desktop or a mobile phone, you’re presented with multiple choices or answers to your query,” said Allen Nance, CMO at Emarsys. “But when you do voice, you’re pretty much getting whatever answer the device—or the company that owns the device—thinks is the right answer.”

What’s more, it’s not yet possible to buy sponsored ads or keywords to improve the chances of being that one result. Instead, marketers must use trial and error to optimize content and try to organically appear in “position zero” (aka the “featured snippet” or “answer box” in a Google search).

According to Christopher Lundquist, vice president of strategy and consulting at SapientRazorfish, this “changes how marketers can work” and is further complicated by differences in how search engines like Google and Bing process queries, source information and prioritize results.

Voice devices also differ from other channels in that advertising is still very limited, and there are no ad networks or large-scale monetization models to work with. Even as brands clamor for more paid opportunities, voice platform companies—including Amazon and Google—are treading cautiously for fear of alienating users with invasive or inappropriate messaging.

In the absence of advertising, a growing number of brands are experimenting with third-party applications (called “skills” for Amazon Alexa, “actions” for Google Assistant and apps on other platforms). These enable users to do everything from creating grocery lists, finding recipes, and getting beauty tips, to listening to music, scheduling appointments, controlling smart-home devices and meditating.

The most popular of these fit organically into daily routines, save time, and make people’s lives easier or more enjoyable. “Consumers are dying for use cases and utility that make their lives better. These devices aren’t only getting smarter, they’re able to add more value to people’s lives,” said Doug Robinson, CEO of Fresh Digital Group. “It’s now up to brands and marketers to figure out what the utility is. Where are we playing a role? How important can we be in that day-to-day role to where we become a part of the habit and add the value that consumers are looking for?

“From a discovery standpoint, consumers are still trying to figure out what to do with these devices, which offers an amazing opportunity for marketers to guide them to voice applications and provide utility value that they need every day,” Robinson added. “It’s really just a race to see who can take advantage of use cases that drive more consumer engagement with their brand.”

Source: emarketer.com; 25 July 2018