Voice-enabled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are boosting listenership of audio content and music, according to a study by internet radio company Pandora and Edison Research that was provided to Mobile Marketer. The survey found that 69% of people are regularly tuning into audio content on their voice-enabled smart speakers with 58% tuning into music for an average of 4-and-a-half hours a week.
Among smart speaker owners, 40% ask general questions on where to find a store or how to cook a particular recipe, while 29% plan to make purchases with top items being technology, household goods and beauty products. Seventy-percent of people listen to music with friends and family, making smart speakers a way to engage multiple members of a household.
Seventy-five percent of smart speaker owners are under age 54, with 40% in Generation X and 35% in the millennial demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds.
The smart speaker market, pioneered with Amazon’s introduction of the voce-activated Echo device three years ago, is still relatively young and marketers are trying to figure out the strongest use cases around which to develop engagement strategies, something Pandora's survey could help with.
The space is about to get more crowded as a growing number of technology companies introduce new devices. Apple will introduce a Siri-powered device called the HomePod near the end of the year to compete with Amazon and Google Home, which are currently the market leaders. Alibaba, Lenovo, Onkyo, Harman Kardon, HP, Tencent and Samsung have products in the pipeline, according to Jackdaw Research. And Facebook is developing a smart speaker with a 15-inch touch screen, Digitimes reported last month.
Amazon’s focus has been on driving transaction revenue at its ecommerce site and pushing music through its streaming service that’s included in an Amazon Prime membership. Google plans to use advertising to create additional revenue on its Home device, whose specialty is in search functions powered by the company’s internet search algorithms. Apple, which makes most of its money from hardware sales, is expected to monetize its package of the smart speaker and software. It also has a streaming music service to provide content for the HomePod.
Voice-activated digital assistants still haven't quite lived up to the expectations of being a user-friendly interface, but growing competition among the devices may spur a greater drive toward innovations that are more meaningful to smartphone and speaker users.
The devices are expected to become a key channel for marketers to interact with consumers, many of whom say the devices have changed their daily habits. Seventy percent of households with a smart speaker say they now listen to more audio at home than previously. People are also getting more attached to the devices, with 65% saying they wouldn't go back to living without one, and 42% saying the device is "essential" to their everyday lives, according to an earlier study by Edison Research.