Google Home voice assistant

The Amazon Echo and Google Home are in tens of millions of homes and racing into all the rest. Voice commands can now turn lights off and on, prompt a customized weather and traffic report while we make breakfast, and even pay our bills.

The Echo alone has more than 7,000 “skills” – voice apps for everything from ordering a pizza to listening to the AP broadcast the latest headlines.

Now Amazon has announced advertising for the Echo, a development noted by Forbes as the only way for brands to get in front of consumers through these in-home AIs. But advertising is only the beginning.

With such rapid growth in users and features, now’s the time for tech brands to figure out how to get in front of their audiences through voice and take advantage of this new platform’s earned and owned media opportunities to extend their story. What’s your way into the home?

Here are some ideas to start with:

1. Earned media.

The enduring and successful PR strategy to increase your visibility, add credibility, and shape the conversations in your industry. Media outlets large and small, local and niche are creating Amazon skills by the thousands. The full list shows the potential of the Echo as a platform for extending the reach of earned media.

Outside of skills, people can simply ask Alexa “what’s in the news?” or for their personal Flash Briefing of curated news sources.

The upcoming Echo Show will make video news briefings possible, adding another channel for broadcast placements. Earn a story in a popular outlet and the Echo and Home can extend its reach just like social media.

Google Home is not to be outdone, offering a near-endless scroll of media options that can be added to a user’s personal newsfeed.

2. Voice apps.

The number of users of the Echo’s skills remains low right now, perhaps due to lack of awareness of their capabilities, perhaps because some are impractical or not needed. But large companies are already pushing out their voice apps.

GE lets you control dozens of Wi-Fi-connected appliances through Alexa, and Campbell’s released a skill that lets users search for recipes. As voice assistants grow in popularity and take on new functionality, voice apps could take off like mobile apps did 10 years ago.

3. SEO.

As of last year, voice searches on Google’s mobile app and Android devices represented 20 percent of all searches, and have almost certainly risen along with adoption of the Echo and Home.

As search algorithms get better and better at understanding the intent and context behind natural language searches, SEO strategies that cling to dear old keywords could miss the boat on the spoken questions and phrases someone might ask Alexa, Siri, and other AI assistants.

4. Podcasts.

Whether you’re interviewed on a popular podcast or creating your own, podcasts are having a moment, with no signs they’re slowing down. While there are many great platforms for sharing and discovering podcasts, home assistants bring that content into the home, outside earbuds, broadcast for all to hear.

5. Stunts.

While Google quickly shut it down, Burger King’s Whopper ad Google Home hack was a success, drawing headlines, attention, and a lot of social chatter. That attempt to tease a response out of Google Home paved the way for future voice assistant stunts to come.

As more households have an actively listening assistant standing by, more brands will come up with creative ways to activate it and spread their message.

We often talk about how to extend a news story our clients are featured in. Sharing it on relevant social networks, using it as a touch point with potential or current customers, linking to it in email newsletters, and so on all extend its reach, its influence, and its value to our clients.

Now home voice assistants offer another platform, and if you’re not already formulating plans around how to take advantage for your own storytelling, PR, and marketing efforts, it’s time to start.