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Smart Marketers and Smart Audio

Presented by: Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research

Smart speakers are one of the fastest-growing consumer technologies ever tracked, and their adoption has increased the use of voice assistant technology on mobile phones. With voice search often rewarding only the company in the first position, developing a content-based skill strategy is imperative for modern marketers to gain a foothold on these increasingly indispensable devices. In this presentation, Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research, and Principal Investigator of The Smart Audio Report from NPR/Edison (America’s longest-running research series covering smart speakers) walked through the latest data and the implications for content marketers.

Session Notes

Tom was a most captivating speaker, with a strong voice and presence. He started with a funny story about ‘where the apostrophe in Tim Hortons went, so he definitely knew his audience. He loosened everyone up before starting and used multimedia like video to continually captivate the audience. He also used statistics to solidify his points and explain himself.

Some Statistics

  • 30% of smart device users own three or more devices, making them a focus for marketers
  • The number of smart speakers in the US has grown 78% in one year
  • The fascination with these devices fades after some time of owning one, but the users still use them as frequently

Smart Speaker Usage

  • Smart speakers are mostly used when people are doing household chores
  • The most requests with smart speakers are to play music and give the weather
  • 55% of people agree that they are listening to more audio since getting a smart speaker
  • 27% of people use smart speakers to control the devices in their households (i.e., sprinklers, lights)
  • 55% of people said they would be interested in a device that could call 9-1-1
  • 24% expressed interested in having a speaker feature that would recommend mental health resources if it detected they were feeling depressed or suicidal
  • The number of functions people use with the smart speaker decreases with the amount of time the user has owned it


  • 58% of users worry that hackers could be using their smart speakers to get access to their privacy and information
  • Most people are not actively concerned about their devices recording personal information or private moments in life
  • 54% trust smart device companies to keep their information secure
  • 75% of smart speaker owners with children in their household use these devices daily

Interest in Owning Smart Speakers

  • 24% of people are interested in owning a smart home speaker, 40% have no interest
  • Reasons for not owning a smart speaker: people don’t feel like they need it
  • The top reason for people to not purchase one is that they are worried about their privacy
  • People who OWN and DON’T OWN are almost equally concerned for their privacy
  • People who reluctantly own the speakers end up liking them
  • 69% of users tend to use them daily

Key Takeaways

  1. It’s crucial for marketers to have top-of-mind awareness and preference. When the question is “Okay Google, what pizza places are near me?” you want to be the top suggestion.
  2. Privacy: If people do not trust you and what you are doing, you are “dead” to the user.
  3. Utility: Find a way to be useful EVERY DAY. Find a way to be included in everyday situations.