Kinetic’s Michael Lieberman: How Can Marketers Communicate With Consumers Who No Longer ‘Need’ A Screen?
'We're going to get to a point where it's not about more digital screens," Lieberman said. 'It's about more engagements; more experiences in the most real world sense.'
With Byton debuting its “smart, intuitive vehicle” concept and Toyota set to integrate Alexa into its vehicles by the end of the year, the future of the connected car was a hot topic following this years’ CES — but perhaps more important for marketers are the ways in which advances in voice and natural language processing are making these “futuristic” technologies possible.
Regardless of how long it takes for truly autonomous vehicles to hit the road, voice-based commerce — completely untethered from screens — is a reality today. And it’s something that marketers need to think about now — not in 2025.
“You no longer actually need a screen of any sort,” said Michael Lieberman, chief strategy officer, Kinetic Worldwide. “You just need the ability to speak and have something respond.”
GeoMarketing: Where are in terms of the connected car? Is this a reality today, ahead of the truly “autonomous” driving future — and what do marketers need to know?
Well, I think CES is a fantastic place to showcase actual technology itself — and we definitely saw both the connected and [self-driving car in evidence] there. But that doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near mass adoption [yet.]
To me, the interesting part of the progression of this space is this concept: The gadgets themselves theoretically make a smart home or smart city, but it’s the connections between the technology, the consumer, the data, and all of the different touchpoints that truly make for the right experience.
It’s the idea that your home, your car, and your person — in the form of a mobile phone — are aware of each other, and they can all start working together to create that better, larger experience. So, it’s fantastic that a car can theoretically drive itself; it’s more interesting when the cars are communicating with each other and with the city to create a smooth traffic flow.
This can actually happen now. You can be in your house and say, “Alexa, start my car.” You can send GPS coordinates to this address, and your car is already keyed up with where to go, how to get you there, and — potentially in the very near future — getting you there on its own. So we’re well on our way.
The “Epcot Center future” is actually coming true; just not necessarily because technology has caught up. Rather, it’s because the underlying platforms that connect the technology have gotten to a point of scale, and that’s really all about Google and Amazon today. That’s what marketers need to pay attention to.
As a marketer, it’s interesting that we’ve all been going kind of crazy over Google and Facebook for the last few years; the concept of social media as a natural point of connection for people always seemed like something you really couldn’t argue.
But all of a sudden, Amazon and Google — rather than Google and Facebook — have become the true “connection companies.”
If we’re talking about Amazon and Google assistants, we’re inherently talking about voice. How is the shift to voice/audio already affecting the marketing landscape?
For a long time, the idea of search today has been very screen reliant. Voice completely changes that; essentially, we are almost completely untethered. You no longer need a screen of any sort. You just need the ability to speak and have something respond. And theoretically — with the self-driving or connected car, for example — it doesn’t need fancy screens in the front of it for you to do that. I think what we’re going to be looking at going forward is a society where even more decisions are being made in this untethered fashion.
We’re already there to some degree: 70 percent of time is spent outside the home, and the power of mobility today means that you don’t have to be in front of a laptop to make a decision to buy something, to do whatever it is you want to do.
Now imagine you don’t actually need your phone screen in your hand to do it. You just need to speak it into existence. That’s powerful, and I haven’t seen what I feel is an accurate representation of what the world could be like in this equation.
I think the question we’re going to start asking — and [should] prepare for — is, “how does a marketer figure out how to put his message in front of people who no longer need to stare at an LCD or an LED interface?”
And that’s what’s interesting: We can actually get to a point where it’s not about more digital screens. It’s about more engagements; more experiences in the most real world sense. It’s all about, how do marketers respond to not having the same platforms to post a message — which, today, is predominantly visual with some audio.
How are you putting this vision into practice at Kinetic? What are you telling your clients?
We’re going out to educate clients on this, but, of course, we’re still in the early stages. We are still screen based.
Right now, we’re still focusing on how we can leverage this crowd-sourced intelligent data to be more relevant to people on those screens — whether it be on the road, in a car, on their phone, in transit. But I think we need to start having the conversations about what it looks like when advertising needs to shift from being screen based to something else.
I think voice is the big change agent for that, and we should see [a shift] in the next year. Can you make yourself the primary experience channel in your category? Can you find ways to simplify the experience with your product? How do you use voice to better integrate your products with the way people are living their lives?