Now that the techarazzi has limped home from a week in Vegas it’s time to call out the top digital trends for 2019. Far and away this year’s clear winner was anything Voice related.
With all the new voice-enabled IoT gadgets coming to market, Voice is replacing touch (screens and keyboards) as the new way we interact with the technology around us. As a result we’re starting to see the emergence of a new Voice Duopoly comprised of Google and Amazon (sorry FB!) These two companies have penetrated the connected home with their smartspeakers, and are reaping the benefits of having all these new device manufacturers creating interfaces for both Alexa and Google Home. (This is similar to when app designers create both Android and iOS versions for the two mobile operating systems.) As a result, the Voice marketplace is literally rushing to Google and Amazon, which should set them up for a decade of dominance in the Voice space.
The other big Voice trend is digital advertising on audio platforms. Streamers like Pandora and Spotify have been around for a while, but many brands are just now turning to audio as a way to market in a voice-first world. Podcasting ad rev is also expected to soar in 2019. Now that podcasting has shifted from downloads to streamed distribution, content providers are able to deliver audience metrics and prove when an ad is heard – these are table stakes for any publisher in digital media.
Finally, there’s a growing realization about the power of audio as a sensory input for all humans. As NPR’s CMO Meg Goldthwaite points out, “Most people think, ‘I need to put a fancy image in front of your eyes in order for you to remember something.’ . . . If you deliver powerful audio you are going to provide an imagination experience that’s going to make that an even stronger message. Case in point: The last time you heard something go bump in the night, were you scared by what you saw? That is what you have heard with your ears, and that is what makes your heart go.” I think about 200,000 CES attendees would agree with Mr. Goldthwaite on this one.