Zero UI is the next wave in how consumers interact with technology. Zero UI, or zero interface, is a term first coined in 2015 by Andy Goodman, a former designer for Fjord and refers to a system that responds to a user’s voice, gesture, glances or thoughts. In other words, the screens and buttons become obsolete.
In today’s terms, that means Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, voice search, Xbox Kinect and neuro-interface, just to name a few. For marketers, this whole new customer journey creates challenges and opportunities to innovate within the space.
Eric Bisceglia, vice president of Go-To-Market at Voysis—a voice AI platform that enables natural language instruction and search—says that the emerging technology creates opportunities for more than just Google and Amazon.
“Just like with mobile devices in the early 2000s, voice AI is revolutionizing how we interact with technology as well as how we discover and consume content,” Bisceglia told AListDaily. “Consumers are quickly realizing that voice offers a more natural and efficient experience. As usage of voice continues to skyrocket, it’s critical that marketers develop a voice strategy now. While large enterprises like Amazon strive to dominate their respective markets, independent platforms like Voysis will enable marketers at all companies to offer brand-specific voice experiences for their customers and still maintain control of their data and user experience.”
According to eMarketer, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month in 2017—that’s a jump of 128.9 percent over last year. Comscore predicts that by the year 2020, half of all searches will be done with a user’s voice.
Just when you thought you had SEO figured out, Google says 20 percent of all its mobile searches are voice queries. Ranking high on search results means something entirely different now that answers are being read aloud, and the “first page” no longer applies. Consumers may not want to listen through a long list of options, so brands may have to pay a premium to be an AI assistant’s first answer. That being said, the FTC will also have to adapt its disclosure requirements to accommodate voice search.
AI doesn’t have to be a one-way conversation. IBM began testing AI ads last year that interacted with users in a way that coincided with the product. For example, an ad for Theraflu displayed during cold and flu season answers questions about symptoms. Campbell’s AI ad helped users create new soup recipes based on what ingredients they already had.
Since machine learning does just that—it learns and expands—the zero UI marketplace could soon be saturated with brands vying for attention. Marketers will need to find creative ways of standing out and building or reinforcing a brand’s personality, such as changing the AI assistant’s voice.
For the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, CBS created a special skill, or built-in capability, for Amazon Echo that interacts with fans who say phrases from the show. The phrase, “Alexa, damage report,” for example, will give you the weather and news headlines. Saying “revenge is the dish best served cold,” will prompt a response in Klingon. Users can even change the Echo’s wake word to “computer,” so they can live out Star Trek fantasies at home.
Activations like this and Hearst’s experiment with Oprah can help users feel connected to a brand as if they’re having a two-way conversation.