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eMarketer’s Ramsey: How AI And Voice-Activation Will Impact Business

'I am as excited – if not more excited – by artificial intelligence – as I was when the internet emerged in a commercial way in the mid-1990s,' says eMarketer co-founder Geoff Ramsey.

The influence of Artificial intelligence and voice-activated digital assistants on marketing has been considerable this past year. And businesses are only starting to catch up in terms of understanding the implications.

Earlier this month, eMarketer estimated that by the end of 2017, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month for sudden rise of 128.9 percent over last year.

While the population of users who employ a connected intelligent assistant like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Okay Google, or Microsoft’s Cortana, isn’t quite mainstream, as eMarketer’s report noted, it’s not insignificant.

This year alone, 60.5 million Americans will use one of those personal digital assistants at least once a month. That equates to 27.5 percent of smartphone users, or nearly one-fifth of the population.

We met up with eMarketer Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder Geoff Ramsey at this month’s Modern Marketing Summit conference in NYC to discuss his assessment on what brands should be thinking about as they prepare for the changes these connected intelligence platforms will bring.

GeoMarketing: How meaningful is that 128.9 percent increase in the number of voice-activated assistants?

Geoff Ramsey: We always have to be careful when we look at percentage increases. It’s still a pretty large number of people interacting with these devices and platforms. The important thing to keep in mind, and the reason I think believe this is going to take off, is that digital assistants and voice recognition are coming under the umbrella of artificial intelligence.

I am as excited – if not more excited – by artificial intelligence – as I was when the internet emerged in a commercial way in the mid-1990s. When I was writing the first eMarketer reports 19 years ago about e-commerce, the remarkable thing was that it was all about reducing friction. That’s what AI is all about.

What is the primary value these AI platforms bring to consumers?

AI reduces friction in both the consumer’s and the marketer’s realm. For the consumer, it’s about getting what they want with the least amount of effort. And in the online sense, that means not having to type in a request.

How much impact brands’ online strategies? At least one tech company exec says the emergence of these technologies ultimately call into question the need for a website.

I do think that websites will start to wane in importance. For a lot of brands, they don’t tend to get a lot of direct traffic to their websites. It’s usually through Facebook or other social media channels.

But that doesn’t mean websites will completely go away. All channels will have to adapt. The question for brands as voice-activated assistants and AI take off is how to connect with consumers in those semi-closed circles.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.