Local Businesses Are Interested in Voice, But So Far on the Sidelines

July 29, 2019 - 5 minutes read

Why Local Businesses Need to Get Voice-Ready 

As radio stations get aggressive with voice integrations, their local businesses partners should also add voice technology to the top of their to-do lists. From smart speaker skills to voice-activated ads to digital streaming via smart devices, with voice, local businesses can engage with consumers on a new platform, extend offers and serve as a resource. 

Thanks to smart speakers, voice tech is going mainstream. One-quarter of Americans now own Alexas and Google Homes — up 78% in just a year —  and many consumers have multiple devices stationed across their homes and offices, according to Edison Research and NPR. In the car, growing voice integrations allow drivers to ask for their audio while keeping their hands on the wheel. All of this spells robust opportunity for radio stations and their local ad partners.    

However, new data from Borrell Associates shows local marketers have been slow to adapt to voice. Only 3% of local businesses have their websites that capable of voice content and just 2% are marketing on smart speakers. The majority of local businesses simply don’t grasp the opportunities that voice can offer, Borrell notes. 

Voice isn’t just about adapting local marketing for smart speakers and in-car voice, it represents a new avenue for information. A growing number of consumers are voicing their search queries, rather than typing them into a search engine, and voice search is poised to become a vital source of both traffic and sales leads. 

It is early innings, but consumers are beginning to test out voice search with about half of Americans saying they use voice to find local businesses each day, according to research from Score. And, in a sign of future usage, in the last year, three-quarters of Americans 18 to 34 say they’ve used voice search for information on local businesses. With all signs pointing to voice as a vital source for search, local businesses need to be ready.

As local digital specialists, radio stations can help navigate this new world of voice tech and smart speakers. Federated Media’s radio stations are leaders in voice technology and have some of the industry’s most robust voice skills. Radio broadcasters can share our knowledge and experiences with marketing partners and help them develop their own voice strategy. 

Voice advertising isn’t simply radio spots on a new platform. Amazon, for instance, doesn’t allow audio ads to play on the devices. Ads can, however, run as part of live radio streams or during podcasts. So when businesses advertise on a station stream or in a podcast, they’re potentially getting added exposure on smart speakers. Specifically for smart speakers, radio stations and local businesses could partner on sponsored portions of a station skill or even a co-branded skill. And users who hear information about a business or brand during a station skill can ask for more information. If you have your own skills, when a user finds you by search or referral, they’ll engage with your content.

To get comfortable with voice, purchase an Alexa or Google Home for your home and your office and experiment with the device. It may sound simple, but the more familiar you are with the technology, the more you can understand how consumers use them and how to best position your business. In this fast-moving space, new developments mean we all need to stay on top. On the horizon, smart speakers with screens, such as the Echo Spot and Google Home Hub, may offer marketers opportunities for audio and video ads. 

When you’re ready to discuss voice ad strategy, radio can offer exciting options from voice ads to co-branded skills and custom voice integrations. Just ask and you’ll be amazed at the possibilities with voice — and how they’re growing by the day.