Introducing Virtual Personal Assistants

Virtual personal assistants are becoming increasingly popular, but what actually are they? How can they help us on a day-to-day basis? And how can they be used for marketing?
We’ve broken down everything we know about them so far about how they can make your life easier and how they can be used for marketing to answer all of these questions.

What are Virtual Personal Assistants?

A Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) is based on a computer program which uses artificial intelligence that can understand text, voice and data in order to carry out tasks and answer questions.
With stiff competition on the market surrounding VPA’s, the main 4 frontrunners at the moment are the Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Siri. These conversational bots help the user complete tasks in and outside of the home, from telling you jokes to booking you an Uber or even checking your bank account, the possibilities are endless and continuously growing.
Cortana - Microsoft's Virtual Personal Assistant

How have VPA’s grown?

Although this technology is revolutionising the market, even the programmers of these devices say it’s early days and they still have a long way to go with the technology within them. That being said, there’s huge potential for growth in this market and predictions show that the market is only on the up from here as people become increasingly reliant on them.

By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.

There is already a huge market for AI devices. Recent figures show that the number of customers using virtual personal assistants is expected to grow from 504 million in 2016 to 1.8 billion by 2021. With such a fast moving market for AI’s, marketers will have to adapt fast to ensure they don’t get left behind as being first in the market is the key to success on these platforms.
84% of 14-17 year-olds said they use voice-activated virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home as a growing number of youngsters are getting more and more used to these devices as part of their everyday lives.
One question we have to consider is, will it ever feel normal to speak to a computer? A recent study states that just 3% of iPhone users have used Siri in public, this is slightly higher for Android users at 7% for android users but still relatively low. The US is big on this technology and Americans are often more open to communicating with these devices in public, we have to question whether the UK culture will be able to adapt to this foreign concept.
Amazon’s Alexa has revolutionised the way AI assistants work and has taken away the embarrassment of speaking to a computer out in public as it is based in the comfort of the user’s home. Bing predicts that by 2020, 30% of web browsing will be screenless, showing the huge changes in search that are yet to come.

How can they be used for marketing?

There is so much going on around this area at the moment and AI Personal Assistants have become somewhat of a buzzword, but what do they really mean for marketing?
Voice activated devices have created a new marketplace, creating compatible apps or “skills” which work with Alexa is a growing opportunity and as this technology is so new, there is a chance to get ahead of the competition in this market and raise brand awareness.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon are all making huge investments in AI technology to make innovations better and improve the user conversation, meaning that this new space could be a great way to connect with customers and engage with new ways of providing your products or services. These innovations could be seen as the pinnacle of inbound marketing, a phase which has brought search even closer to consumers as a portal to the world wide web lives on their bedside tables.
This technology is rapidly advancing and could create huge opportunities for advertising as time goes on, however, it has a long way to go and isn’t quite ready to be utilised to its full potential yet. Take a look at the huge range of other marketing services we have to offer in the meantime or get in touch with one of our experts today.

Written by Hollie Hines

Content & Social Media Specialist

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