Tech Trends

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The Voice Technology Revolution

Voice Technology - what is it?

Voice Technology has been the talk of the town ever since Apple launched Siri and Google rivaled it with Google Assistant. Today, with Google responding to search results out loud and Alexa reading out the top headlines for the day every morning, marketers are getting their brands ready for voice revolution. But, what is this voice technology and where is it headed?

 

How does Voice Technology work?

Currently, voice technology works in a very simple fashion. It uses speech recognition technology to convert voice into text (all this happens in the background, within a fraction of a second btw). The text is then pinged to the server and the relevant result is relayed back in text format, which uses text-to-speech technology to say out the relevantly correct answer.

Voice Technology Workings

Voice Technology – how does it work currently

Why is voice technology gaining popularity?

Well, of course, voice tech, especially in search is becoming so popular because at the core, it mimics our natural behaviour. Asking Google to recommend a Greek restaurant near you is as easy as, if not easier than, calling your friend and asking for a recommendation.

It takes least amount of effort. Any technology that helps you go hands-free or chord-free adds so much convenience to your life. In fact, Google recently revealed that most consumers use Alexa and Google Assistant to multi-task. What kind of multi-tasking? Things as simple as playing music while they are cooking or adding a grocery item to the shopping cart while planning their meal or ordering a pizza from Dominos while they continue studying.

In India, specifically, it is gaining popularity with those who are not so literate (whether educationally or technologically) and can’t wrap their heads around finding the right answer through google. In fact, YouTube is filled with examples of grandmothers using Alexa or Google Assistant to play their favourite songs or tell them about the weather

 

Where is voice tech headed?

To answer this question, we need to look at how new technology is adopted. There are typically two ways in which any innovation is adopted:

Push model – This is where a breakthrough occurs and a consumer does not even know that a need for the technology/product even exists before he/she interacts with it. Think Henry Ford and and his famous quote: If I asked them what they want, they’d have said faster horses.

Pull model – This is based on asking the consumers what they want and then creating a product for it. Read: nespresso A simple device to make a good cup of espresso available to everyone.

So where does voice come into this?

Of course, at this point of time, it’s a little far-fetched for people to order food by talking to their device while they board a bus for their daily commute to work. Most people, living in a crowded country like India, would prefer the privacy that visual interfaces gives while still having the ability to communicate with the world  through videos, images and text messages.

That being said, voice  will replace digital, visual interfaces gradually. However, even the voice tech companies need to work on making voice part of everyday life. What we mean by that is voice tech needs to move from content to context. Voice tech needs to have the ability to understand the context and take care of the tasks around it.

To tell you what we mean, here’s an example:

Currently, you need to say the following commands to Alexa:

  • Alexa, remind me to bake a cake for my sister’s birthday on Saturday at 10am
  • Alexa, please add flour, eggs, sugar to the shopping list
  • (on Saturday at 10am) Alexa, please turn on the air conditioning

Instead, it should be able to do all of the above; i.e. set a reminder, add the ingredients to the shopping cart based on previous purchase behaviour and switch on the air-conditioning on Saturday at 10am when you simply say “Alexa, remind me to bake a cake for my sister’s birthday on Saturday at 10am”.

When voice tech is able to understand context, you will see more and more people joining the bandwagon and embracing the technology to enable them to make their lives better.

Does this mean that brands should not invest in marketing efforts to be voice-ready today?

Absolutely not! That’s not what we mean. In fact, all brands should start making their content ready for voice today. Here’s the how and why of what we say:

  • Voice gives you a clear intent understanding of the audience. While text-based search a person may just type “term insurance” but while saying it, they will define it as “which is the best term insurance to buy” or “renew my term insurance now”. If you notice, both these queries for voice search have a different and specific intent. This differentiation will help marketers ascertain the buyer’s journey and cater their content accordingly
  • Providing sharp content. With the queries being sharper, marketers will be forced to give sharper responses. This means that the days of writing long-form content for a specific query and cramming it with keywords and hoping that your brand appears in the search results above your competitors are numbered. Now, only those brands that have a very sharp, relevant and more recent response to the queries being asked, will be the ones to benefit.
  • Voice commerce is here to stay. With more and more consumers becoming dependent upon voice assistants to manage shopping carts or ordering food for them, brands will need to ensure that their systems are compatible with and ready for these changes. Being present on platforms like Amazon and ensuring higher ranks for Google Shopping is now almost mandatory.
  • Need for increased top of mind recall. With people using voice commerce so regularly, it is only a matter of time that the smaller brands would be wiped out. What are the chances of your brand of toothpaste being on the consumer’s mind while ordering for toothpastes when he hasn’t even seen your ad anywhere?
  • This also means that product discoverability will change. Brands will need to fight for consumer’s attention in a non-visual format and this is where sonic branding comes into picture (or the mind, with no visual interfaces ;)). With digital media becoming more and more expensive, brands will seriously need to reconsider their media budgets. Imagine how expensive would it be to buy space on Amazon to feature your brand when someone is looking for a competition brand in your category!

 

For now this is where we believe voice is headed at. What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know.

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Cryptocurrency – The future is here

With Facebook announcing the launch of Libra, a new cryptocurrency, we can no longer turn a blind eye to this economic revolution.

 

What is a cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is electronic money store in e-wallets. You can transfer this currency using Blockchain technology, which allows people to see the transactions without having the ability to change the data. It has, and will, revolutionize the way we store money, pay for goods and services, and do business.

 

So what’s new with Facebook’s cryptocurrency?

While Bitcoin is a popular currency that has been spoken about, Facebook has launched a currency called Libra. Facebook does this with 27 other companies like PayPal, MasterCard, Spotify, PayU, eBay, etc.  Facebook will not have complete control over the currency, but instead get just a single vote in its governance like other founding members of the Libra Association, including Visa, Uber and Andreessen Horowitz, which have invested at least $10 million each into the project’s operations. (source: Techcrunch)

 

What is Libra?

Libra is a digital currency that is aimed at breaking class barriers by making money accessible to everyone.

“Moving money around the world should be as easy and cheap as sending a text message. No matter where you live, what you do, or how much you earn.” – This is what they believe.

 

How Does Libra Work?

 

How to buy cryptocurrency Libra

How does Libra Work

 

Why Libra?

Facebook will also launch a wallet called “Calibra”, which will be available on WhatsApp and Messenger. Along with this, the other companies that are collaborating to make Libra will develop and design their own means to make this currency more easily available and accessible to add. There will be more than 100 companies associated with making this effort successful, including Venture firms, technology companies as well as eCommerce companies.

Existing digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum weren’t engineered to scale. Using no control mechanism to anchor their prices, the currency was susceptible to huge and unpredictable swings, making it difficult for merchants to accept money. But with Facebook’s relationship with 7 million advertisers and 90 million small businesses plus its user experience prowess, it is well-poised to tackle this juggernaut of a problem.

 

How will Libra make money?

Libra Association will earn interest out of the money that users cash in, in order to maintain the stability of the currency. “If more commerce happens, then more small businesses will sell more on and off the platform, and they’ll want to buy more ads on the platform so it will be good for our ads business,” says David Marcus, Facebook’s VP Blockchain

 

How does Libra affect consumers?

There are more than 1.7 billion people in the world who do not have access to the traditional banking system. Cryptocurrencies take digital transactions to the next level. Currently, even with so much digitization efforts in India, we are required to have bank accounts to enable digital transactions through apps like PayTM or Google Pay or PhonePe. Cryptocurrencies help eliminate the traditional banking system completely by allowing you to have an online account and transact through that. With cryptocurrencies, they can go to the nearest store, buy Libra pseudonymously or exchange it for cash online and spend it using the interoperable wallets. Your real identity won’t be tied to your publicly visible transactions. This means that you do not need to worry about hackers using your personally identifiable information and hacking your bank account during online transactions.

With almost 0 transaction fees, it enables digital payment across smaller amounts (even a few paisa/cents worth), which was earlier not possible with credit & debit cards.

 

How will Libra affect brands and marketers?

Here is how, we at Wolfzhowl, decode the impact of cryptocurrency on marketers:

  • Cryptocurrency will make eCommerce stronger: Security of paying online a major deterrent for consumers to shop online. With a transparent and secure method like Blockchain, consumers will find it easier and safer to pay via digital currencies. Also, with no “exchange rates” in the picture (theoretically speaking), markets open up globally.
  • Pay-to-Play Model: Individual marketers would be able to pay the end-consumer for their personal information instead of relying on platforms like Facebook and Google for the same. Customers could opt-in to programs that collect their personal data in exchange for rewards or exclusive deals. While it may seem like an expensive proposition, it may help brands accurately target audiences instead of working on assumptions.
  • Elimination of 3rd party media houses: Blockchain enables the elimination of middle-men in digital advertising. For example, a brand wants to place an ad on a website ABC. In order to buy inventory on ABC, it needs to go through a 3rd party like XYZ. XYZ then verifies the genuineness of the advertiser and ensures that the ad content is not malicious. In order to do this, XYZ charges ABC a certain fee. Blockchain eliminates this process. Blockchain users can be verified through the network, where people can know what they are getting and what they are paying for.
  • Libra will not store information for ad targeting: While Libra is an offering by Facebook (and other brands), none of them will use the data of the users for advertising. The launch of Calibra that handles the crypto dealings and users’ privacy will not allow the data to be used for ad targeting.
  • Incentives to early adopters: Initially, early adopters will be incentivized to start using Libra. Wallets that pull users through the Know Your Customer anti-fraud and money laundering processes or that keep users sufficiently active for over a year will be rewarded. For each transaction they process, merchants will also receive a percentage of the transaction back.

 

Instigations for brands to use Cryptocurrency:

  • Coffee shops like Starbucks can create add the cryptocurrency option to their existing apps and offer discounted prices for those paying via digital currency
  • Brands like Seniority.in which cater to senior citizens can set up digital payments through WhatsApp, enabling the seniors to buy directly through the WhatsApp portal instead of going to the website
  • Money Transfer & Forex companies like Western Union can issue cryptocurrencies which can be cashed out in the local currency at the destination in order to avoid loss and theft of money. If the country uses cryptocurrency for transit, most of the travelers will not even need to change the currency

 

So far, this is all we know about Libra. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on its development. What are your views on Cryptocurrencies? Share them with us in the comments below.

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Etisalat’s Launch of 5G Will enable Marketers to redefine consumer experience across categories, including retail & healthcare

Etisalat is all set to roll-out 5G in UAE in June’19. With UAE consumers willing to pay 35% more for 5G, it’s expected to be adopted as quickly as a flash in the market. (source: Ericsson ConsumerLab survey).

While it may seem like just another development in the world of wireless technology, unlike past upgrades from one G to the next, the extra capabilities of 5G through its lightning speed & reliability will make advanced tech such as AI & VR mainstream and bring it closer to consumers, beyond just gaming & entertainment. Retail shopping will go a step further where consumers will be able to try on new clothes without actually wearing them – consumers will be able to ‘virtually dressed’ in new attire & check if it suits them instead of their current manual way. Then, based on a consumer’s reactions to how he or she looks, the brand’s AI technology will suggest alternatives or similar products. Health care will soar to new heights beyond health-monitoring watches, apps, wearable devices, etc. 5G will allow remote patient monitoring which could automatically notifying healthcare providers in real-time if there is a medical issue and by providing preventative notifications directly to people as they go about their day. Amazon, as always, is ready with what 5G will enable for consumers with its AR View where it lets consumers virtually place items such as couches, speakers, wall pictures and more throughout their homes to see how it looks if they purchase it. Know more about Amazon AR view here.

Scroll down to see the impact of 5G on branding & marketing. 

Amazaon is ready with AR for 5G

Amazon’s AR app for homesWhat does it mean for marketers?

The speed & reliability of 5G will guarantee continuous high-speed connection, no matter where you are, making high-speed internet as common as electricity in just 2-3years from now. This will make AI & VR go mainstream which in turn will alter the current consumer purchase behaviour – from blending online-offline journeys before making a purchase to only relying on online journey; from ordering online and then taking a pain of return & exchange to getting it right in the first go, etc., making consumer’s path to purchase shorter, quicker, & more reliable. Hence, marketers will have to surgically craft every step of online consumer journey with the brand esp. the first time brand-consumer interaction in order to avoid consumer drop off from the brand and drive preference & loyalty vis-à-vis competition.

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User Experience impacts your SEO ranking

There are more than 200 search ranking factors that form the algorithms of Google and Bing but they all point to one important mertic: user experience. Many marketers still believe that their search ranking is affected only by the optimization of content, relevancy score and updated title tags, meta tags etc. However, SEO ranking factors correlate with usability metrics, such as click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate and time on site.

While we all know that User Experience (UX) is made of 4 elements

  1. Values
  2. Usability
  3. Adoptability
  4. Desirability

we all fail to measure these with scientific precision. Google and Bing take into account the following metrics to measure the UX of your site:

User experience is not the same as user interface

What is user experience?

 

On your website:

  • Average time on site – how long do visitors spend on your site?
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after viewing just one page
  • Page views – the number of times a visitor views a page
  • Exit rate – the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing a specific page (they may have visited other pages before the one they are exiting from)

On Search Engine:

  • Pogosticking – where a user goes back and forth from the search results page and search results destination sites
  • Click-through rate – The ratio of the number of site visitors who clicked through from the SERP compared to the total number of users
  • Dwell time – the duration of time between the moment a user clicks on a search result and goes back to the search results page

As marketers, we need to start measuring these almost as rigorously as we monitor digital media spends, impressions and clicks to the website in order to rank higher and better organically.

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