The Super Bowl wasn’t that long ago — most of us can still remember the game, the blackout and the ads. And not necessarily in that order, either. The event is always the biggest for advertising and advertisers. On the biggest stage, it’s all about telling the biggest stories. But if you look at all of the other advertising — particularly digital and mobile — anywhere else, it’s boring. It’s the classic approach to marketing at you, rather than providing any value or making a moment you’ll remember. That’s why when Mike McSherry and the team first came to us with Voice Ads I was incredibly excited — it’s the first time I could see that mobile advertising could really create a meaningful brand experience that users would care about.
A good parallel is the early days of television advertising. For the most part, agencies were driven by copywriters and the first TV ads were hosted versions of the print ads that the industry had come to rely on. It wasn’t until the early 60s when someone really broke through by using the power of the medium for what it’s exceptional at: storytelling. That changed everything, and whether you reference ‘a Coke and a smile’ ‘drivers wanted’ or ‘I’m lovin’ it,’ there’s no arguing that this propelled brands into the mainstream of culture in ways that have been entertaining, enjoyable and memorable.
All of the digital agencies have been questing for this same breakthrough since the internet revolution kicked off in the early 90s, but we’ve mostly only seen banner ads. Blinking, boring banners with desperate quests to save you money if you just click here. And mobile — let’s face it, how we all live our lives right now — is like a bad derivative of digital. Wasn’t this medium supposed to be interactive?
Voice Ads is the right breakthrough at the right time. Navigating a little screen with a big finger tests anyone’s patience. The interaction design ideas for desktop just don’t work when scaled to 22%. You have to change the tools, and let the most natural form of interaction take over: your voice. And with Voice Ads, we finally move from the brand narrative to the brand dialog. Brands can finally listen, and we can finally be a part of the story. “Interactive,” it seems, isn’t actually about pointing and clicking after all.
Voice Ads is an extension of so much of what Nuance has been doing to harness the power of intelligent systems to make everything we interact with more simple, more engaging and more useful. It’s just one way we’re reinventing the relationship between people and technology — and, with Voice Ads, giving agencies and their clients the tools to rebuild the relationship between brands and consumers. Who knows: in the next Super Bowl, while you’re streaming the game live to your mobile device, maybe the next big moment in entertainment will just start speaking to you.