Amazon, Google in Rs60 crore ad blitz to promote smart speakers

New Delhi: Google’s virtual personal assistant (VPA) Home and Home Mini, and Amazon’s voice-controlled Echo are expected to see a spend of about Rs60 crore on advertising in the next one year, said multiple media buyers.

“Both Google and Amazon have deep pockets. They will spend disproportionately to create the voice assistant category, which is still nascent in India. Its early adopters will be young users who already use voice assistants on phones. They are more likely to buy the speakers that will be adopted by others in a household,” said Navin Khemka, managing partner, Wavemaker India, a GroupM-owned media agency.

Khemka’s observation is in line with Google’s ad strategy as the tech giant has started running a ‘Make Google Do It’ campaign, which, for now, is helping users inculcate the habit of using voice assistants on Android phones. Along with outdoor, digital and print, the current series of television ads promotes Google Assistant and shows young users asking for directions, playing music and texting by speaking to their phones.

“We have been seeing an increase in the number of people using Google Assistant on phones,” said a Google India spokesperson. “Smart speakers represent a new computing paradigm, one that is very nascent…we believe there is definite user interest to interact more seamlessly and conveniently with technology, where voice is a key part of the new experience.”

Google Home’s first multimedia campaign is currently a work-in-progress as the firm promises to launch Hindi language support, paving the way for mass adoption. Google Home was launched with a print campaign in leading national dailies.

Unlike Google, Amazon’s ad features a family that is using the Echo smart speaker to get news and weather updates, play music, make a shopping list and even play games. Amazon is promoting Echo at the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) as well.

“The team’s focus was to highlight Echo as a family device with varied use cases relevant to each and every member of the family. Our target groups for Echo devices are families that are technology-friendly and willing to spend for convenience,” said Ravi Desai, director, mass and brand marketing, Amazon India.

Amazon claims it has evolved Alexa for the Indian customer, ensuring her voice, accent, knowledge, services, and features are locally relevant. “We have expanded her natural language understanding to fully comprehend context and intent, even if the sentences include Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam or Punjabi proper nouns. You can ask Alexa to add ‘atta’ to your shopping list. She knows Rajinikanth jokes, follows cricket and is aware that the term ‘bunk’ is about skipping class and has nothing to do with bed varieties,” explained Desai.

While it is too early to assess the adoption of smart speakers in India, a forecast by research firm Gartner Inc. suggests VPA-enabled wireless speakers will generate $3.52 billion in global revenue by 2021, up from $0.72 billion in 2016. Neither Google nor Amazon disclose official sales figures.livemint

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