HOLLYWOOD, FL: Brands need to prepare voice strategies that can strengthen their position in this space for the long term, according to Sarah Hofstetter, chairwoman of agency 360i.

360i anticipates that voice “is about to disrupt every single marketer,” she reported at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Advertising Financial Management Conference.

Yet, when it dug into the body of research surrounding the new audio medium, the agency discovered “69% of marketers don’t believe voice is the ‘next big thing’.” (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Agency 360i shouts out loud endorsement for voice.)

Hofstetter responded to that set of industry blinders with further research: “In less than two years, 50% of all searches will be done by voice.”

And she challenged the assembly of financial managers who, 360i contends, soon will be required to add a column or two to their planning spreadsheets: “Where are you in getting yourselves ready for that?”

Elaborating on the task, Hofstetter highlighted another question for brands to consider: “If somebody says to [Amazon’s] Alexa, ‘Hey Alexa, I need a car rental for Thursday out of Hollywood, Florida,’ who’s showing up?”

By assessing the particular strengths of platforms like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana in its “Voice Search Monitor” research program, 360i can guide clients in tackling this sort of problem.

And its investment in this area, the company’s chairwoman explained, will never show up on a client invoice: “There’s no line item on for a Voice Search Monitor engineer. That’s what we call ‘overhead’.”

In turning its voice theory into practice, 360i has already developed voice-led marketing activations for brands including National Geographic and HBO, two media companies.

And just as marketers aimed to secure the necessary online “real estate” – in the form of the relevant web domains for their companies and brands – in the 1990s, they should now think about their voice presence in the same way, Hofstetter said.

“Voice is that real estate today,” she informed the ANA assembly during a keynote session. “Brands need to establish an element of voice authority.

“Think about it this way: If somebody’s looking for your brand and you don’t show up – and somebody else does show up –that’s it.”

Sourced from WARC