- AARP debuted voice-enabled apps for smart speakers urging its 38 million members and anyone over the age of 50 to be more politically active, according to a press release. The "Raise Your Voice" app works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- AARP's voice app has information on voting and top issues for older Americans, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drugs and healthcare. The app responds to a digital assistant's wake command followed by a verbal order to "Open 'Raise Your Voice.'"
- Brand experience firm AKQA helped to design the voice app, which on Oct. 18 will start letting users look up polling information and send it to their smartphone. AARP's development team plans to add a contact-your-representative feature and more information about key political issues.
While millennials have the reputation for being early adopters of mobile technology, smart speakers have been more popular among older Americans. The average age of a smart speaker owner is falling as young adults catch up with their parents in device ownership, per a study by Edison Research cited by AARP. The percentage of smart speaker owners ages 55 and older dropped to 22% in May 2018 from 33% a year earlier, while the portion of younger owners shifted in the opposite direction. The percentage of smart speaker owners aged 25 to 34 climbed to 18% this year from 12% in 2017, the survey found.
Smart speakers are becoming a significant channel of information for U.S. households, with 81% of users saying they use the devices to search for real-time information, such as weather and traffic reports, while 75% say they look up factual information, such as trivia and history, per Nielsen's MediaTech Trender Survey. More than two-thirds of smart speaker owners use their devices to listen to the news.
Advocacy groups like AARP are smart to leverage voice platforms to get their message out, especially during election season while many consumers are tuned into the news at a higher clip. While Amazon's Alexa Skills Store doesn't have a dedicated "politics" category, searching for the term shows more than 400 voice apps related to politics, including newscasts, trivia and opinion. By making the app work with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, AARP can reach users via the digital assistants that have a combined 89% share of the smart speaker market, per an estimate by voice platform Voysis.
AARP isn't the only organization that's adopting the latest technology to reach voters. Nonprofit organization When We All Vote this month partnered with mobile game developer Jam City to boost online voter registration ahead of the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6. Players of Cookie Jam, Cookie Jam Blast, Panda Pop and Genies & Gems last week saw a reminder to register to vote before state deadlines expire. This demonstrates how brand marketers could leverage mobile games and voice apps to get a message in front of a large, loyal audience and drive them toward a desired a call to action.