Streaming services launched as new-market disruptive innovations, but as cordless platforms become the norm, how will companies sustainably innovate and turn a profit in this golden era of video streaming? It seems that advertising-based streaming services have a built-in advantage over subscription-only ones (looking at you, Netflix) so long as the former can balance the demands of their VIP stakeholders: marketers and users.
The latest ad format attempting to create a win-win situation for these two customer groups is voice-powered ads, which NBCUniversal’s new Peacock streaming service rolled out earlier this year to some Comcast users. These “On Command” ads rely on voice-activation functionality built into the remote control for Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms . For example, a new Unilever and Target commercial invites viewers to either watch an ad or speak the phrase “Save with Sauve” into their remote for a $5 coupon. Their voice then prompts an on-screen overlay where users enter their mobile number to receive the offer via text message .
Now that virtual assistants are integrated into people’s phones, televisions and even wrists, it makes sense that marketers are figuring out how voice technology can help them engage and listen to potential customers from their couches. I find these voice-powered ads particularly promising because they streamline the call to action process. Instead of running ads in hopes that viewers will remember to visit your website or buy your product next time they’re at Target, marketers can engage with viewers and essentially close the feedback loop in real time. As for the user experience, you don’t have to switch screens to collect a coupon or learn more about a brand. Above all, completing the call to action takes significantly less time than watching a commercial.
Granted, users are giving out their phone numbers to a corporation, but how is that different than signing up for a rewards card or entering a vacation sweepstakes online? In fact, most forms require more personal info than a number, so voice-powered ads don’t seem overly invasive.
 MediaPost, Peacock Debuts Voice-Activated Ads From Big Brands
 Marketing Dive, Unilever, Target Partner for Voice-Powered Ads on Peacock