Pssst! Buy This! No, Buy This! (That Ad Is ‘Speaking’ to You)

by Net Future Institute on April 3, 2013

Are mobile shoppers about to hear from their phones as they shop?

Voice pioneer Nuance Communications today introduced a new mobile advertising format that lets people have two-way conversations with brands.

I’m not sure why a company would issue such an announcement on April Fools’ Day, but in any case, Nuance says the new Voice Ads are designed to “transform traditional mobile advertising into an engaging and entertaining conversational experience.”

The idea is that an ad would appear and prompt the consumer to participate by speaking to it, which starts the interactive experience.

“Voice has already changed the mobile interface, making it faster and easier for consumers to discover and access information, and find people and content,” said Michael Thompson, executive vice president and general manager, Nuance Mobile. “Mobile advertising shouldn’t be any different, and should be designed specifically around the unique capabilities of the mobile device.”

Since Voice Ads are optimized for location awareness, mobility and voice input, I can easily imagine extending the technology into the aisle in an attempt to reach the mobile shopper.

Consumers already are being driven to specific stores by location-based deals and incented to check out certain products, such as scanning specific items for credit through apps like shopkick.

Mobile phone users are getting used to speaking to their phones in addition to people. One can ask Google Navigation for directions or Siri for factoids and advice. The online travel agency CheapAir now allows travelers to get flight deals by speaking the request rather than typing.

If consumers can verbally interact with brands through ads, they just as easily could interact with them at the product level as they pass the items in a store.

While it is one thing to verbally ask for product information via mobile, do you think shoppers are quite ready for the products to talk back to them?

   Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.

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