The Future of Voice is Visual


The rising sales of smart speakers and visions of screenless web browsing have led many to anticipate a new golden age of audio and voice-activated marketing. But alongside the number of smart speakers sold, there is growing scepticism about the medium.

In the WARC 2020 Marketers Toolkit, only 22% of marketers consider Voice to be ‘very important’ to their marketing strategy and a third of those surveyed viewed Voice as ‘not important at all’. People might be shouting about voice-search, but their cries of a golden age appear to be heard further away than once thought.

There’s a reason why Times Square exists as it does. Effective communications rely heavily on what we can see. As a result, many brands find it hard to connect with consumers in the Voice space. Without the array of visual options for their communications, brands are constricted in how they can engage consumers. Experience is the priority — no one wants the answer to “what’s the weather like today” with the response “your weather forecast is sponsored by…” As a result, Voice platforms keep responses ad-free. This denies advertisers basic options they are afforded with visual channels. How do you display ads via Voice that don’t ruin the experience?

Brands that develop voice-apps for consumers also face a discoverability challenge. A recent report by e-consultancy highlights how a majority of users — 51% — have never used a third-party voice-app. People’s behaviour on smart speakers currently only revolve around a few functional commands, so many skills go undiscovered or abandoned, consigned forever to the voice graveyard.

Alexa, are Voice assistants really worth the hype?

Our answer is yes, but not necessarily in the way we imagined it.


Elio La Grua, Strategy Director, Carat Global.

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