Alexa

When can we advertise on Alexa?

When can we advertise on Alexa? 1800 1200 Kane Simms

“When will we see advertising on Alexa?”

If you’re thinking this, you’re missing the point. read more

Google Assistant: 500m active users, popular Alexa skill: 300,000 daily users

Google Assistant: 500m active users, popular Alexa skill: 300,000 daily users 1800 1200 Kane Simms

At Project Voice in Chattanooga, TN, we saw some light shed on just how many people are using the Google Assistant, and some updated numbers on the kind of traffic one of the most popular Alexa skills handles.

Cathy Pearl, Head of Conversation Design Outreach, Google, towards the end of her presentation shared some numbers on how many monthly active users Google Assistant has.

500 million per month.

Thats across all surfaces and devices, but it’s a lot.

Google is the first of the big players to share numbers like this. Maybe it was waiting for the number to be high enough to warrant talking about.

I’d like to see the same numbers from Amazon. Now I’m wondering whether Amazon is also waiting to reach a noteworthy milestone before releasing them.

Nick Schwab, founder of Invoked Apps and creator of some of the most popular skills on Alexa, including Sleep Sounds and a host of ambient sounds, shared how much traffic his skills handle per day.

300,000 per day.

2% of users try the premium service and 90% of those convert into paying customers.

That’s doubled since we spoke to Nick on the VUX World podcast last year.

Of those 300,000, 15% of them were using a smart display of some kind, such as the Echo Show 10, 8 or 5.

So now that we’re starting to see some solid numbers coming from the platforms and smiths successful developers on those platforms, it would be good to see others follow suit and share the metrics behind their successes in order to validate the opportunity that these platforms present for organisations and individuals.

If you’ve been uncertain about the kind of opportunities that exist on these platforms for your company, or cautious about jumping in and investing, maybe these numbers will start to help you paint a clearer picture about whether you should and the size or the market and opportunity that you could take if you do.

Introducing the latest Alexa Champion: Dustin Coates

Introducing the latest Alexa Champion: Dustin Coates 1800 1200 Kane Simms

Every once in a while, the Alexa team at Amazon give a select few people a badge of honour.🥇

It’s called the Alexa Champions programme and it commends individuals within the Amazon Alexa community who’ve done great work in helping push the voice first agenda forwards.

Drumroll please…

In the most recent batch of 2020 Champions is our very own Dustin Coates!🤴

Dustin has been an active member of the voice community for over 4 years.

His site Talking To Computers is a voice developers dream.

His book Voice Applications for Alexa and Google Assistant is the only one of its kind and helps turn voice dev novices into pros.

His work with Algolia has brought voice search to a whole host of players.

And (obviously), it goes without saying that VUX World would be nothing without him. From hosting the podcast to building epic voice experiences for our clients.

He’s already a Google Developer Expert and now, rightfully, he’s an Amazon Alexa Champion.

Now he just needs the Samsung Bixby Premier Developer badge and he’ll join Nick Schwab as the only other developer to have the whole set. 😃

Congratulations Dustin!!

Matchbox.io with Sarah Andrew Wilson

Matchbox.io with Sarah Andrew Wilson 1800 1200 Kane Simms

Sarah Andrew Wilson, Chief Content Officer at Matchbox.io, shares the secret sauce for creating the kind of Alexa skills you can build a business on.
read more

Not so bold predictions for voice in 2020

Not so bold predictions for voice in 2020 1800 1200 Kane Simms

So, here we are. The end of 2019. And it’s time for some click bait regarding 2020 voice-first industry predictions.

I told you to prepare for this a few weeks back.

While forecasting can be inspiring and encouraging, it could also be perceived as a holding message.

It’d be easy to hear about how advertising will come to smart speakers in 2020 and think “I’ll wait for that, then I’ll do something”.

Or read about 5G rolling out in the next 12 months and think “I’ll hang on until then”.

Or, maybe you’ll read how the voice mega-trend will cause a back-to-basics review of existing content, worry about how much work that’ll be and kick the can down the street.

Perhaps you’ll hear buzzwords like the importance of ‘compatibility and integration‘ and how ‘environment and context data‘ is key to enabling ‘transaction-oriented consumer intents’ in 2020, glaze over and think “this is just too complex”.

I have no problem with these kind of articles per se. I’ve enjoyed reading some of them. Especially this one from RAIN, this one from Vixen Labs and this one from Rabbit and Pork.

I just think they can often contain hopes and wishes or general, broad trends, rather than sober predictions of what might actually happen in the next 12 months.

And much of this stuff was predicted last year as well. Siri to open up third party development, anyone?

“There isn’t much in those predictions that wouldn’t have been suggested this time last year.”
David Low, Executive Product Manager, Voice and AI, BBC, incoming CEO, The List

While it’s nice to look forward, hope, predict or wish; critical even. It’s also good to understand what you should realistically do in 2020 if we continue to have another iterative year.

And much of this stuff was predicted last year as well. Siri to open up third party development, anyone? Click To Tweet

2020: another iterative year for voice

Perhaps a not so bold prediction (or a bolder prediction), which I subscribe to, is that 2020 will be an iterative year for voice assistants.

That might not be what you want to hear. But think about it. Think about some of the main challenges, like discoverability.

If it was easy to solve, it would have been solved already.

The big players could do something radical to address it, but what are the chances of that? It’s too risky.

The big players could do something radical to address it, but what are the chances of that? It's too risky. Click To Tweet

In reality, they’ll iterate towards solving these problems over time.

That’s because to address something like discoverability, you need to address the current set-up of the platforms, challenge our app-centric mental modal and really consider whether skills are the right solution.

Amazon have far too much invested in skills and too much smart speaker penetration to risk confusing the message or pivoting in a big way. At least not over the next 12 months.

The only platform I could ever see pivoting from the app-centric mental model is Google which, to be honest, already has. Actions aren’t just ‘apps’, anything Google Assistant can do is an action, including performing a web search. That’s how Google can claim to have over a million actions.

Further iteration isn’t really a bad thing

Maybe that’s not such a great prediction for a rapidly evolving space. But so what?

I don’t know why everyone’s obsessed with ‘rapidly evolving’ things anyway. The pace of technological advancement is obviously quick (and quickening), but user behaviour doesn’t change at anywhere near the same pace.

The pace of technological advancement is obviously quick (and quickening), but user behaviour doesn’t change at anywhere near the same pace. Click To Tweet

People will change their habits from screens to speaking, for the right kind of things, over time. People won’t break out of 15 years worth of mobile conditioning or 20+ years of screen-based, keyboard conditioning in the next 12 months.

The reality is, the platforms are already capable of more than people are using them for. It’s the advancement of user behaviour that we should concentrate on.

What the voice industry should do in the next 12 months  

What should happen in the next 12 months is that all of us in the industry should be doing the best work we possibly can, within the areas we can affect and influence, to give users the best possible experiences that increase their confidence and trust in voice assistants and voice interfaces.

Whether that’s putting voice search into your app, building an Alexa skill, putting a voice bot on your website, wherever it makes sense for your users. The main thing should be to provide quality, reliable experiences that do the job they need to, well, and consistently, and give users confidence in the medium.

But, you don't need to start big, you just need to start. Don't get caught short like you did with mobile and social. Click To Tweet

Confidence that’ll build over time.

Confidence that’ll turn into repeat usage, over time.

Confidence that will lead to bigger behavioural changes and unlock this door we’ve been banging on for the last few years.

And for brands, just start. Move the needle. Get off the starting blocks. Just. Move.

With smartspeaker penetration being over 20% in the UK and usage rising, reaching your target market with something they value is a real proposition. And that won’t happen on its own.

Maybe no one in your industry has done it yet. Maybe there aren’t any case studies for you to compare.

But, you don’t need to start big, you just need to start. Don’t get caught short like you did with mobile and social.

We already have the tools. We just need to actually use them

Merry Christmas and all the best for a VUXing epic New Year.

How to create Alexa skills using agile

How to create Alexa skills using agile 1800 1200 Kane Simms

What’s the best way to approach the development of a hashtag voicefirst experience for Alexa, Google Assistant and voice assistants?

The cool kids would have you use agile and the ‘proper’ project managers would be more comfortable using something called waterfall. But what if there’s another way?

Here I break down how agile development with a waterfall implementation might be the best way for you to a) learn and iterate during development and b) go live with a well rounded, higher quality experience.

Discussing discoverability with Braden Ream

Discussing discoverability with Braden Ream 1800 1200 Kane Simms

Is discoverability of Alexa skills, Google Assistant actions and other voice applications the duty of the platforms i.e. Amazon and Google, or is it the duty of the brand or developer creating them? We discuss this, as well as discoverability challenges within voice applications with Voiceflow co-founder, Braden Ream.

Listen on:

Apple podcasts | Spotify | YouTube | Overcast | CastBox | Spreaker | TuneIn | Breaker | Stitcher | PlayerFM | iHeartRadio

Apple podcasts | Spotify | YouTube | Overcast | CastBox | Spreaker | TuneIn | Breaker | Stitcher | PlayerFM | iHeartRadio

Links

Save 10% on the Conversational Academy online conversation design course

Try out VoiceFlow

Follow Braden Ream on Twitter

Join the VoiceFlow Facebook community

Alexa, the origin story with Jeff Adams

Alexa, the origin story with Jeff Adams 1800 1200 Kane Simms

One of the founding fathers of Alexa, Jeff Adams, shares the origin story behind the world’s most popular voice assistant, Alexa.

Listen on:

Apple podcasts | Spotify | YouTube | Overcast | CastBox | Spreaker | TuneIn | Breaker | Stitcher | PlayerFM | iHeartRadio

Apple podcasts | Spotify | YouTube | Overcast | CastBox | Spreaker | TuneIn | Breaker | Stitcher | PlayerFM | iHeartRadio

Jeff Adams was the founding manager of the Alexa speech group; the team that made Alexa listen and talk. Jeff joins us to share the origin story of Alexa: where it come from and how it was created, and why the device was called ‘Echo’.

Jeff also explains the details behind the three core parts of speech recognition: lexicons, acoustic modelling and language modelling, how the Doppler became the Echo and about his company Cobalt Speech.

Links

www.cobaltspeech.com

info@cobaltspeech.com

http://www.cobaltspeech.com/coblog

The Rundown 006: WWDC, reMARS and voice shopping

The Rundown 006: WWDC, reMARS and voice shopping 1800 1200 Kane Simms

In this episode, we discuss the Siri announcements from WWDC19, the Alexa announcements from reMARS and the Future of Voice Commerce report. read more

Voice strategy: short and long term planning

Voice strategy: short and long term planning 1800 1200 Kane Simms

When it comes to creating a voice strategy, you need a short term plan and a long term plan.

These are the words of Amazon Alexa’s Chief Evangelist, Dave Isbitski, who joined us on the VUX World podcast to discuss how Amazon are advising brands on voice strategy.

In the short term, you’ll be looking to establish a presence on the common voice assistant platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant. You should look to get started by finding a single use case that adds value to both your end user and your business.

That in and of itself can take time. You’ll go through the same motions as you’d go through with any other project. From discovery and feasibility to design and prototyping to production and implementation.

The difference with a voice strategy is that there are a number of fundamentals you’ll need to have in place first, such as figuring out what your brand sounds like.

In the long term, there’ll be things you’d like to do that Alexa or Google Assistant doesn’t support today. Also, the more you embrace voice, the more you’ll start moving towards having voice as an interface to your business across every touchpoint, rather than a presence on a platform. And to get there, it’ll take a shift in strategy, skills, resources, tools and priorities. That takes time.

So start small, crawl before you walk, but have your eyes on the bigger picture.