Westwood One, the largest radio network in the U.S., and the official network radio partner of the NCAA, has worked with Amazon and development partner XAPPmedia to offer Alexa and Westwood One consumers effortless access to Westwood One Sports’ exclusive live audio coverage and post-game recaps of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
There is a new report by OC&C that reveals voice commerce reached nearly $2 billion in the U.S. in 2017. More surprising to some is that it is projected to reach $40 billion in the next five years. That is an 86% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). And, it's not just a U.S. phenomenon. In the U.K. voice shopping is expected to climb from just $200 million to $5 billion in that same period.
Many podcasters are surprised when their podcast shows up on Alexa, usually through a TuneIn integration. This is great until someone actually tries to listen - it is a totally broken user experience. That is what we set out to address with Voice Cast for Podcasters.
XAPPmedia today announced Voice Cast for Podcasts, a self-service solution for podcasters looking to quickly launch a custom Amazon Alexa skill. Voice Cast for Podcasts is built on XAPP’s One Voice AI SaaS platform that hosts and operates interactive voice apps for voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana.
Federated Media’s B100 was the first radio station to create a custom Alexa skill almost a year ago with the help of XAPPmedia. Recently, Radio Ink interviewed Federated’s Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Programming, James Derby, about how smart speakers fit into the radio broadcaster’s strategy.
Amazon Alexa users can access the Winter Olympics content by saying, “Alexa, open Westwood One Sports.” They will then be offered the opportunity to listen live if a live broadcast is underway, hear the most recent live broadcast on demand, or listen to summary highlights from the day. Westwood One collaborated with XAPPmedia to launch the Westwood One Alexa skill in time for the Olympic Games opening ceremonies on February 9th.
Voice assistants are destined to become a big part of consumers’ lives and represent both a big opportunity and a threat for brands. Why? Purchases that occur today through physical stores, websites and apps will materially shift to voice commerce over the next three years. Brands can take advantage of these changing consumer preferences or cede a rapidly growing sales channel entirely to their competitors.
Voice is changing the way consumers interact with technology and how they search for information. Google acknowledges that over 20% of search is now by voice and comScore’s prediction that it will trend toward 50% by 2020 is looking increasingly likely. Smart speakers are accelerating this trend. Why should brands care?
It is often hard to see how new platforms and channels will shape consumer behavior while they are still in the rapid growth phase. Voice looks small compared to the web today the same way the web looked small in 1997-1998 compared to the newspaper business. New communication channels require scale to have an impact, but as they scale brands can’t afford to be absent. Why? Because their competitors are present and soaking up all of the consumer attention.