Your personal assistant says ‘resistance is futile’


Over one-third of adults in the West are now using “smart devices” with personal digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Google Assistant.

They use these disembodied voices to set up calendars and reminders; control TVs, DVRs, and streaming services; tell them what the weather is like outside; give news reports; check the status of flights; order pizzas; check on deliveries; and, most importantly, ask the age of your favorite celebrity.

There are hundreds of other areas that are equally useful, but with many that are anything but, like having it find and read bad poetry.

However, we’re only scratching the surface with this technology so nothing wrong with a little experimentation.

What sort of effect is this having on advertising?

Well, Forrester recently released a report called “The US Digital Marketing Forecast, 2018 To 2023” that stated with certainty that over the next 5 years, marketers in the States are going to be shifting ad budgets away from search and into “voice” or, in other words, they will invest in this newish personal assistant technology so that when someone asks Alexa for a recommendation, they will make the cut.

They will additionally move some of it into areas that will make this play more intelligent, robust, and effective including online content, SEO, new forms of branding, and “voice skills” that will aid the effort to ensure they get the awareness they need.

Up until now, they’ve primarily used the assistants for customer service, but as the devices’ technology becomes more powerful and refined, so does the opportunity for brands.

In fact, when it comes to Alexa, some categories of marketers are already taking investment away from Google’s search and giving it to Amazon so the advertising is more closely tied to where people purchase their goods.

Not great news for Google who watched their cost-per-click (CPC) rates dive 28% at the end of 2018 – the 14th consecutive quarter of negative growth – while Amazon’s is expected to grow by over 50% just this year.

According to eMarketer, they have already grabbed 8.8% of the digital ad market.

It makes sense because, in the past, most online journeys would start with a search on Google, but as users have become ever more sophisticated (slowly, but steadily), they’ve come to realize they can simply go to, start the search for the product they’re interested in there, and have many more benefits related to that search than they would get from Google.

Their behaviours are evolving in this regard, even as their behaviors in social are breaking down the civility of our societies, much to the consternation of folks like Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. Well, at least it isn’t all bad news, right?

And it’s working. Some marketers said they have seen a 500% increase in purchases directly attributed to their ads on Amazon.

Perhaps the next step is for these personal assistants to buy the media and make suggestions about where.

Don’t fight the progress because not only is it an amazing opportunity to be incredibly creative and targeted – we wouldn’t want to anger the machines!

by Josh Sklar, President of Heresy, Author of “Digital Doesn’t Matter (and other advertising heresies)” [email protected], @chiefheretic,

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