Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

Smart Speakers, including Amazon’s popular Echo, are enjoying rapid growth, but they are also creating unique challenges for marketers.

By some estimates, 15% of U.S. adults will use smart speakers by the end of this year, according Medium.com. Just two years after the Echo was introduced, adoption of smart speakers is growing at a 130% rate, which is comparable to the growth rate of smartphones two years after the launch of the first iPhone.

The growth is likely to continue with Google already promoting its own smart speaker and Apple, Samsung and other firms developing competing products. For digital marketers the use of smart speakers to surf the web rather than web browsers is a significant change.

With web browsers, digital ads can appear alongside of content in manner that, for the most part, doesn’t distract for the online experience. With audio search results, however, marketers will need to exercise caution in designing commercials so that the promotional content doesn’t alienate listeners.

Some early tech adopters have already expressed frustration with being hit with audio advertisements via their smart speakers. Writing in The Next Web, Abimanu Ghoshal reports that some Google Home smart speaker users were irked when the technology subjected them to a promo for “Beauty and the Beast,” which announced the opening of the movie.

Google has maintained that the plug for the movie wasn’t an advertisement. Rather, it was intended to be helpful content. Needless to say, audio and video promotions aren’t new, with radio and television users having accepted that advertisements are just part of the media experience.

More recently, listeners to internet music streaming service Pandora have accepted the advertisements are also part of using the digital services. In a similar manner, users can stream radio broadcasts, including content from NPR, over their smart speakers. While NPR is listener supported, other radio stations depend on revenues from commercials that are included in their streaming services.

Perhaps the challenge for marketers will be to ensure that advertisements are streamed at appropriate times. One apparent issue with the “Beauty and the Beast” promotion was that the content was broadcasted when smart speaker users were listening to their agendas for the day. That could be annoying for users who are rushing to leave their homes for their workdays.

News broadcasts, in comparison, are generic in nature, so in most instances, listeners aren’t dependent on the content for scheduling their meetings. The role of smart speakers for planning is also illustrated by the fact that checking the weather is the second most common task performed with smart speakers, with general questions being the most common, according to Medium.com, comScore, and Statista.

With that in mind, interruptions to radio programs are likely to be less troublesome. The challenges of advertising could be particularly noteworthy for Amazon, which is expected to control 70% of the voice controlled market this year, according to TechCrunch.

As the online store continues to capture retailing market share, it is also seeking to increase revenue from advertisements that it pitches to its customers. That may be easier to do with users of smartphones, laptops, and desktops, so the challenges of smart speaker advertising could be substantial.

Last modified on Sunday, 06 August 2017
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