Some brands and agencies will tell us they are considering whether now is the right time to launch an Alexa skill. Our experience with clients ranging from the top automakers and consumer brands to retailers, media broadcasters and public sector agencies is that having an Alexa skill now is essential to winning in the voice era. Here are eight reasons why brands, media companies, and even government agencies should launch an Alexa skill now.
1. Voice assistants are the new search engines and Alexa is the leader
2. Amazon Alexa is available on over 100 million IoT and media devices in consumer homes along with tens of millions of smartphones
3. Amazon Alexa smart speakers command over 60% share in the U.S. which translates into a reach of about 40 million U.S. adults as of January 2019
4. Alexa also has a large smart speaker market share lead in the U.K. and Germany and presence in fourteen countries overall
5. Over 28,000 different IoT devices from 4,5000 brands work with Alexa
6. Alexa is available in car dashboards in six leading auto brands including BMW, Ford, and Toyota
7. Amazon introduced a new Alexa search feature in 2018 that can deliver consumer traffic based on topical requests
8. Amazon is building a robust voice commerce foundation
Voice Assistants are the New Search Engines
Asking a Question is the #1 use case for smart speakers according to a 2019 Voicebot.ai consumer adoption report. This isn’t surprising — it’s a natural result of consumers’ relentless quest for convenience. Consumers first learned they could get instant results when asking Alexa for the weather, or to play a song, or to set a timer, but they didn’t stop there. They quickly started asking Alexa as well as Google Assistant a wide range of questions just like they do with a search engine. Alexa and Google Assistant don’t always have a good answer or any answer at all, and therein lies the opportunity and the challenge for businesses and other organizations to provide better answers to consumers’ questions and create direct connections with their audiences. If you want to be a winner in the paradigm shift to Voice AI, then you need to have an Alexa skill in order to create new and convenient voice connections with consumers in their homes.
The Smart Speaker Leader
Voice AI is about more than smart speakers, but they do represent a critical new channel for reaching consumers in the home. And, the home is where Amazon has placed its biggest bet. Amazon commanded over 60% of the installed base of smart speaker users in the U.S. at the end of 2018 compared to about 24% for Google. The gap between the smart speaker leaders narrowed in 2018, but Amazon still has a 37-point lead in the U.S. In total, Voicebot.ai data show that there are now over 40 million Alexa-based smart speaker owners and three-quarters are monthly active users. Alexa is now an essential channel for reaching a large number of U.S. consumers.
If you are focused on reaching consumers in Australia, Canada, or France, the market share ratio is reversed with Google as the leader. However, you still want both Alexa and Google Assistant support to reach over 85% of smart speaker owners.
The Smart Home Leader
Amazon has also launched more than a dozen products designed to bring Alexa into additional corners of the home ranging from smart TVs and stereo systems to microwaves and security cameras. Those products complement 150 third-party devices with Alexa embedded and 28,000 that are Alexa-compatible. This is more than double the most recent numbers for Google Assistant and an astounding 100 times more than third-party Apple HomeKit integrations for Siri. Amazon has its own smart home products as well anchored by the Ring brand, which it acquired in 2018.
Some brands will want to integrate Alexa into their products. Others will recognize that Amazon’s smart home leadership will continue to draw more consumers and suppliers into its ecosystem. It is another signal that Alexa is an essential voice platform to support because it is a leader today that will not be easily displaced.
Alexa Invades the Car
Amazon is also beginning to reach Alexa users outside the home. This is important in part because there are nearly 60% more monthly active users of voice assistants in the car as on smart speakers. Automakers have for many years provided their own voice assistants in the car but recognize that consumers enjoy having access to the same assistants on-the-go as they use in the home.
In many ways, Alexa is behind Apple and Google because CarPlay and Android Auto have a several years head start. However, Amazon has signed at least six leading car brands that have integrated Alexa into the head unit and the dashboard controls, which will further cement its usefulness to consumers. And, it will enable on-the-go ordering and voice search to support consumer shopping.
Alexa and Search
In 2018, Amazon introduced a new Alexa feature for developers called CanFulfillIntentRequest. It is designed to make Alexa skills discoverable based on the content or capabilities. As a result, Alexa users can discover and use skills without knowing the voice app name or the developer. This is the beginning of voice search on Alexa. However, you can’t show up in results for a new car purchase, insurance recommendation, product category, or to provide information if you don’t have a skill. As mentioned earlier, the most common voice assistant use case on smart speakers and through smartphones is asking general questions and product search specifically is an increasing behavior. You must have a skill to be in the conversation when a consumer uses voice search through Alexa.
Alexa and Voice Commerce
Amazon is the acknowledged leader in online commerce. It is not surprising that it is building a robust foundation for voice commerce. This began early with the ability to place orders or reorder using Alexa to directly fulfill orders through Amazon.com. The monetization features expanded with in-skill purchasing last year. Amazon is also streamlining commerce within skills through Amazon Pay, which simplifies the purchase process by avoiding the need to request payment information from consumers for each transaction. Again, this opportunity will be open to brands that commit to the platform. Building for Alexa is the surest path to becoming a choice for voice shopping as these behaviors increase.
Alexa Will Be a Key Part of Brand Voice AI Strategies
Google and Apple were clear winners of the mobile era, and both became essential to brand mobile strategies. The popularity of Amazon Echo, the rapidly expanding capabilities of Alexa, and the company’s seemingly unlimited voice assistant budget not only turned Amazon into a key player, it became the organization setting the tone for how voice AI will evolve.
Every organization’s voice AI strategy will include Alexa. And, there are many reasons to act now as consumers are forming habits and the platform is favoring those showing commitment by launching Alexa skills. You can learn more about launching an Alexa skill by clicking the button below.