What Marketers Want From Voice in 2019

From cross-functionality to morning coffee

If you could add voice functionality to any product, what would it be? Getty Images
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

In 2018, we saw voice functionality come to microwaves, clocks and wall-mounted fish, to name a few examples. While our tech overlords are, no doubt, hard at work on the next generation of voice-controlled devices that will roll out throughout 2019—and we’ll see a preview of what’s to come at CES next week—we asked industry executives what they’d put on their wish lists if they could voice-enable anything.
Spoiler alert: Wherever it is, they mostly just want more cross-functionality.
“I’d love voice queries and home assistants that actually … work,” said Aaron Levy, director of paid search at digital marketing agency Elite SEM. “They’re a pretty cool novelty right now—I combined a group of smart plugs and named them ‘Christmas’ to turn on all my lights … but they aren’t particularly amazing right yet.”

At the office

Andy Yost, CMO at media company Gannett, echoed Levy in terms of increased functionality, saying he’d like a voice-activated assistant for scheduling meetings and keeping him on schedule, “basically making my digital calendar my voice-enabled assistant.”
Jeremy Cornfeldt, president of digital performance marketing agency iProspect U.S., also said he’d like to replicate the functions of an assistant.
“Google launched Routines [last] year, and they and several other assistant makers have built multiple solutions for starting out your day prepared,” he added. “But we think there’s a missing opportunity for your work computer to help you wrap up the day as well by saving relevant files, updating tomorrow’s to-do list and then shutting down.”
Speaking of work computers, Pat Reinhart, senior director of digital strategies at SEO and content marketing firm Conductor, said he’d like to be able to automate tasks, like asking his laptop to have SEO tool Screaming Frog crawl a website and export the pages with duplicate title tags.
“If I could talk to my laptop at the office and ask it to run different programs while I am answering emails, it would almost double my productivity,” he said.

In the car

Cars were another popular choice for more voice functionality.
That includes Levy, who said that he’d love “effective voice-activated car/GPS systems.”
Pete Meyers, marketing scientist at analytics firm Moz, too, said he wishes car manufacturers would “stop obsessing over proprietary technology” as “Google and Amazon are running circles around them and I want that functionality in my car.”
Cornfeldt pointed to applications including, “anything and everything that decreases taking hands off the wheel,” from adjusting mirrors to changing the radio.
“It would also be fantastic to be able to ask questions about the current state of the vehicle and integrate the answers into your calendar—for instance, checking on when you should get an oil change and then scheduling it for you, or asking how much gas you have left and proactively prompting you when you should plan to stop off at a gas station the next time you pull up the maps app on your phone,” he added.

At home

Within the home, Michael Koziol, global CEO at digital agency Huge, said he’d like to see more integration within the kitchen, where the technology is in some appliances, but still isn’t particularly useful.
“I love to cook, and it’s not uncommon to have four burners and an oven going at the same time,” he said. “It would be great to be able to control the burners or oven temp with voice commands like, ‘Burner  No. 2, simmer, No. 1, kick up the heat, top oven broil for two minutes’ and get active temperature readings through voice notes.”
(He also joked that he’d like to tell the dishwasher to unload itself: “That would be the killer app of all time in my life.”)

@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.