Month: July 2018

Flash briefing 37 Don’t let your chatbot get rusty

Remember Rusty from Cars the movie? I do, I watch that movie so many times with the little ones that at some point I knew by hard almost half a movie. In Cars, Rusteeze is the brand that is sponsored by the main character and as a car, you never want to be rusty. Chatbots are pretty much the same. A chatbot isn’t a tool you can simply launch and leave. It’s a digital representative; a highly visible ambassador of your brand. As such, it requires ongoing review, maintenance and optimisation. And as in Cars the movies and in real life inattention can make your chatbot a liability, causing customer frustration and casting a shadow on your brand. So what would be your Rusty Rust-eze for your chatbots?

Monitoring how your users are interacting with your chatbot, where are they getting frustrated in the conversation and when are they leaving the chat will give you insights in the parts that you need to improve to keep your chatbot updated and provide a seamless experience for its users. The first sign of rust in your bot is when is not monitored for a little too long. Users are getting used to the presence of chatbots, so the expectations are getting higher. And your bot is supposed to grow along with those expectations. It needs to be smart, stay relevant and helpful to the purpose it was created. You need to have a plan for integrating you bot with new tools and breakthroughs as they come. App integrations, sentiment analysis, natural language processing, you name it. You need measuring tools and review interactions. And you can also add feedback to your bot, add way for your users to tell you their frustrations in comment form and not only selection options. The common symptoms that start showing when your bot is getting rusty is frustration from users, misunderstandings, bad responses, not able to reply to common questions. Be like Lightning McQueen, keep your bot updated, and without rust. Ongoing maintenance and monitoring should be your goal.

I love Disney movies, here’s a wiki with more from the characters of Cars:


Flash briefing 36 – Voice commerce in mobile

According to a recent study conducted by audio and AI company Voysis, more than half of voice commerce is conducted on mobile phones with assistant programs like Siri or emerging platforms that are enabling audio conversions.

However, the rise of mobile voice sales is also a result of retailers investing more heavily in voice-activated mobile apps and technology, according to Ryan Macinnis, director of marketing at Voysis.
In order to stay ahead on these new platform, many brands are looking to test methods of using voice to drive conversions. Others, like The North Face, have identified more tangible use cases for voice commerce to drive sales of apparel. In the past few years, the company has enhanced its voice-enabled search function on both desktop and mobile, helping shoppers find what they need more quickly. On the site, users can select a microphone button and verbally request their search rather than clicking through menu pages.

While some are adding retail features to voice assistant bots, like Siri and Google Assistant, others are creating their own voice-activated services in an effort to carve a competitive edge against Amazon.

“Voice shopping is very new,” the Voysis report stated. “Siri has been with us since 2011, but the use of voice for the consumer shopping journey has only really emerged in the past two years. Given its short lifespan to date, it is remarkable that $1.8 billion was transacted by voice in 2017 in the U.S.”

Find the report here:

Flash briefing 35 – Monetization strategy for voice platforms

Amazon doesn’t allow for Alexa’s voice to read out ad copy and no in-conversations ads are permitted in Google Actions. The companies has not yet found a way of adding advertising without compromising the customer experience.
In the case of traditional media companies as the NYT and BBC the money is not focus just yet. Other players already present in the audio ecosystem are simply using the voice platforms as a gateway to their stations. And there they already have set advertising, for instance. Another way of getting around Amazon’s ad restrictions would be to take a leaf out of The Washington Post, HuffPost, and Bloomberg’s books and make money by having the host read out the ads themselves.
Another monetisation strategy can be branded skills, so for example if a company owned a voice skill around cocktail recipes, they could make money by featuring recipes sponsored by brands.
Another way media companies could monetise in voice platforms is via affiliate sales, where users could interrupt a story that were mentioning a jeans and ask to buy them.
The most obvious monetization strategy is what’s known in Alexa as ISP: In skill purchasing, a way to sell premium content such as game features and interactive stories or sell products.
Buying these products in a skill is seamless to a user. They may ask to buy products by name, or agree to purchase suggestions you make while they interact with a skill. Customers pay for products using the payment options associated with their Amazon account.

Another way is to integrate your products from Amazon into Alexa, which works for users that already sell products on
ISP supports both one-time purchases for entitlements that unlock access to features or content in your skill and subscriptions that offer access to premium features or content for a period of time. You define your premium offering and price, and we handle the voice-first purchasing flow. We also provide self-service tools to manage your in-skill products, and optimize their sales performance over time.

One of the challenges smart speakers have right now is more ways of monetize the platforms. AFAIK in Google this is still not possible, and the ad strategy is not clear yet in any of the platforms.

Thank you for listening.
Some monetization strategies were adapted from: Is Alexa a monetization moot?

Flash briefing 34 – Voice in publishing industry

Just like every other brand on the market, publishers are waking up to the reality that voice is rapidly changing the way people interact with products and services. Platforms like NYT, BBC, Reuters and Evening Standard are experimenting with the formats to understand where the audience is, the frequency in which the content needs to be delivered and times of the day people listen in these platforms.

And as first-movers, they are becoming the go-to news source in a whole medium.

Kourtney Bitterly, lead at The New York Times Research & Development has said that we need to actually start thinking about how perceptions around news are shifting.

According to Bitterly, to understand how smart speakers are factoring into people’s lives, The New York Times embarked on a month-long intensive research process with audiences in Seattle, Miami, and Detroit. While she said that the team experimenting with Google Home and Alexa at The New York Times have often found themselves being frustrated with the limitations of the platforms, users are generally more optimistic. ‘I think the most surprising thing was how forgiving people are, because they have optimism that it’s going to get better’, said Bitterly.

The Research & Development section at the BBC also did some research into how users respond to interactions with Alexa skills. Some of their findings included that users like talking to machines and that they’d like to be more personally implicated in the story. 63 percent of listeners enjoyed the novelty of the format, although 67 percent didn’t like the story. You can find the rest of their results in this episode notes here. The BBC will continue to experiment with different models and experiences and start creating content that is native to the voice environment, to master the creative storytelling potential of some of these new platforms. One area they’re particularly looking at is content for children by experimenting with different play patterns.

One example from the BBC Alexa skill serves as a way to give carriage to great broadcast and podcast content that they have already created.

The New York Times has also put their short and daily podcast The Daily on Alexa devices and Google Home. ‘It’s probably the most successful product launch of maybe the past few decades’, said Bitterly.

The UK-based newspaper Financial Times began converting their text articles to audio after catching wind that 62% Britons are happy to use voice controls. From lengthy opinion pieces to “What to watch on TV this week”, the publisher has been converting texts to audio using Amazon Polly so their 900,000+ subscribers can get informed with less effort.

From a technical standpoint, it is relatively simple to build skills and actions, making it a fairly easy space in which to prototype and experiment. Not one news organisation has a very advanced creative paradigm that is native to these platforms, so it’s still a pretty equal playing field. The creative which with they come in the near future will determine the fate of the news in voice and probably in every other medium for publishers.

Adapted from:


Flash briefing 33 – Prime day echo line deals

Hello there, if you live in a country with Amazon you are probably aware that’s Prime Day, an opportunity for prime users to get deals on a lot of products sell by Amazon. The bad news is that the site was down for more that 2 hours. Frustration was abundant near me with people trying to make their purchases. I’m sure someone was sweating at Amazon headquarters! That’s 2 hours surely cost Amazon millions. Last year’s prime day is said to have generated 1 billion, do the math. Lesson is: even Amazon has issues, way bigger issues,

What I really wanted to say it’s: if you have been thinking on getting an Alexa enabled device this is the best day for it! I have an echo spot, but honestly I don’t use the screen at all most of the time, you’ll be fine with the cheaper version, the echo dot, that it’s down from almost 50 to 29. The echo show is down to almost half the price.

If you are enjoying this podcast and finding value, please leave us a rating on iTunes, Google Play, Alexa skills store, google actions, wherever you listen to us, we’ll really appreciate it.