Consumers Unsettled By Digital Assistant Ads, But They Still See Value

The growing popularity of digital assistants—such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home—has attracted advertisers’ attention but there may be a problem in using the technology as a marketing channel. Consumers find it disturbing. A study from business-to-consumer marketing automation company Selligent found that 69 percent of consumers it surveyed described receiving ads based on unprompted cues from voice assistants as “creepy.”

The survey also found that 51 percent are worried that voice assistants are listening to conversations without their consent, and the younger the consumer, the more inclined they are to believe they are being listened to without their knowledge; 58 percent of Gen Z (ages 18-24) and 36 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 55-75) agree.

While 45 percent of those surveyed use voice assistances despite the “creepy” factor, the study shows consumers are adjusting their behavior in different ways. It found that 41 percent agreed that they have reduced their use of social media due to privacy concerns and 32 percent of consumers have quit at least one social media platform within the last 12 months due to privacy concerns. Facebook is at the top of the “quit list” at 40 percent.

And yet, the survey also revealed that 51 percent of consumers are still willing to share personal data for a more personalized experience. For brands, this means a greater focus on delivering truly relevant, omnichannel experiences that bring value to consumers at the right moment. This comes with higher expectations for connected customer experiences. Expected customer service response timeframes are shortening as 96 percent of people expect brands to respond within 24 hours of a flagged issue, and 90 percent also expect a resolution within 24 hours. Additionally, 71 percent expect brands to have all the information about them during an escalated brand interaction.

The survey also highlighted the value of omnichannel experiences for consumers—64 percent of those polled take advantage of merging online and in-store shopping experiences for big-ticket purchases, preferring to research online but go in-store to purchase. However, 50 percent of consumers still expect brands to assist and give recommendations in-store. And while 64 percent of those polled are aware that their online activity is being tracked, they welcome proactive product recommendations based on previous purchases, and 47 percent find it ‘nice/helpful’ when they’re served ads based on what they have asked their voice assistants.

“Building consumer trust and long-term loyalty is the holy grail for any marketer,” says Niki Hall, CMO at Selligent. “Consumers today are more connected than ever; they expect a level of personalization in their brand interactions and want everything in an instant. But because they are also wary of their data being used in ways they may not agree with, brands need to develop a strategy that strikes a relevancy balance—articulating personalized consumer value without being intrusive. To successfully do this, businesses need an intelligent platform that provides a complete view of the customer. Having full visibility across all consumer touchpoints will enable brands to deliver an elevated customer experience and drive lasting value.”

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