Rose Herceg, Chief Strategy Officer, WPP AUNZ [LSE: WPP]
“Luke, I am your father.” This Darth Vader quote is probably the most famous line of all the Star Wars films and the iconic moment when Vader tells Luke the truth about his family history. It’s a pop-culture line that will never wear out and it comes from the voice of a Hollywood giant, the late, great James Earl Jones.
We’re no strangers to the power of voice.
Voice is changing everything we thought we knew to be true about search. Voice is immediate, getting more accurate by the second, and building artificial intelligence through machine learning with every new search.
The number of voice-assistance devices (Alexa, Echo, Google Home) in Australian households has ballooned in just a few years. At the close of 2019, 6.3 million Australians owned smart speakers, accounting for 35 percent of the adult population. That is up from only 5 percent in 2017. More than simply ‘technology’, these smart-speakers are fast becoming a new member of the average Aussie household. More of us are looking to these devices for direction, advice, news, entertainment, and fact-finding.
This is the obvious stuff. As a futurist, my question is always going to be…‘where to next?’ And this is where it gets really interesting and frankly, pretty audacious.
Anger, sadness, frustration, joy—plus a dozen other emotions—can predict your buying patterns and even your brand choices
Right now, the best minds in the world are working on voice technology. It’s embryonic, freshly-baked thinking but emerging research tells us that voice might be the key to everything.
Your timbre, tone, cadence, accent, speed with which you speak, (according to the best behavioural scientists) can predict how and what you want to buy. Anger, sadness, frustration, and joy—plus a dozen other emotions—can predict your buying patterns and even your brand choices.
Imagine this: I ask Alexa to find me a great pair of high-heel shoes for the new dress I am wearing to some fancy black-tie soiree. From the inflection and cadence in my voice, Alexa knows that I’m after something special. My tone is joyful, excited, and playful. In fact Alexa knows from my voice pattern history, that money (for this particular purchase) is no object. What comes back is a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, a pair of Bailey 100’s retailing at $3,995.00. These outrageous high heels are covered in real crystals and pearls—shoes that are deserving of my Balenciaga dress. What’s more? Alexa got it exactly right! Nailed it! No wasted search. Total accuracy.
Imagine something far more sobering. I speak into Alexa for the shortest route home (after downing a few drinks with my bestie). Alexa can hear from my speech that my words are a teensy bit slurred and my cadence would suggest one too many Jack and cokes. Alexa tells me I am likely over the limit and that I’m about to get into my car and drive home. Am I sure I have the skills to operate my car? Alexa also reminds me that 79 percent of women who think they are under the drink-driving limit turn out to be wrong. Alexa has stopped me from—at best the loss of my license and a hefty fine—and at worst my death or someone else’s.
Find money in your budget for voice. Explore the latest voice technology. Find the best experts. Figure out how your business can get ahead of the voice curve. Every predictive trend says you won’t be disappointed. Voice is the new marketing frontier. And a bit like the one million bucks James Earl Jones was paid to say, “This is CNN’—it’s money in the bank”.