Voice Experiences That Make You Smile

While many brands have embraced a utility or commerce-oriented posture in their voice experiences, there’s another strategy brands are leaning into, rooted in storytelling and just plain fun. Companies including Marvel and Lego have turned to skills and actions to create immersive, gamified experiences for consumers that encourage deeper interaction that transcend viewership of traditional advertisements. Younger audiences, including children, remain at the forefront of voice reach—not only have Google and Alexa created offerings, such as Alexa Kids, targeted exclusively for kids at home, but brands like General Mills’ Lucky Charms are creating voice-led journeys for children. As kids spend more time at home and grow tired of screens, voice is a welcomed newcomer to engage and entertain.

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Is Voice Hidden at the End of the Rainbow?

General Mills is feeling lucky with its second voice activation this year. Mindshare and SpokenLayer collaborated to create Lucky’s Magical Mission, a voice-led smart speaker story available on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant targeted to children. The journey encourages players to travel throughout eight charm lands with Lucky the Leprechaun to save magic, illustrating how voice can bring beloved characters to life in unprecedented ways. Activations like this pose ample opportunity for companies to not only build their brand’s audio presence but reach new audiences, such as children, who are searching for new forms of entertainment. More on Voicebot.ai

Making Your Car’s Nickname a Reality

You can now actually name your car. Cerence, the voice AI company for cars, released a new feature that allows drivers to customize their wake words for their in-car personal assistants. Instead of using the manufacturer name, such as “Hey BMW,” users can choose any word they want in their native language. This new feature is available on BMW’s virtual assistant called BMW Personal Intelligent Assistant. As voice assistants start to undertake more tasks, a more intimate, personalized experience may solidify our relationships with them, strengthening our loyalties and inclinations to purchase from certain brands in the future. More on Cerence

Amazon FreeTime Gets a Makeover

Amazon FreeTime and Freetime Unlimited, the services geared towards children, are being renamed to Amazon Kids and Kids+. The programs allow parents to control screen time and access to content, while the paid portion provides a kid-friendly library of books, movies, games, and more. With this new rebranding and additional features, kids can use Echo devices to broadcast voice announcements in their homes. As families juggle working from home and implementing online school, initiatives that utilize emerging tech to facilitate these experiences will gain momentum, especially as the paradigm of work and education is altered indefinitely. More on TechCrunch

Stats Don’t Lie   

46% of smart speaker owners said they used the assistants more often in the three months from April to June than they had previously. (data via Axios)

70,000+ The number of podcasts on Amazon Music’s newly launched podcast category. (data via TechCrunch)

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