Industries using monetization for voice AI
Aug 26, 2021
7 MIN READ

4 Industries on the Cusp of Generating New Revenue Streams for Their Voice Assistants

The voice assistant market is growing exponentially. New technology providers enter the space at an accelerated rate while legacy players continue to offer new features in an attempt to broaden their market share from smart speakers to third-party platforms for a variety of applications. Disruptors in the space, including SoundHound Inc., offer custom alternatives that allow manufacturers and service organizations to own their customer relationships, data, and product roadmaps. 

In the midst of all this growth and rapid change, companies with established voice assistants in at least one channel are already planning and designing voice assistants for the next phase of voice AI adoption. Namely, omnichannel experiences and monetization opportunities. Looking to voice assistants for revenue generation makes sense in a market where the total digital voice transaction value is projected to reach $19.4 billion in a year, according to the most recent report by Juniper Research.

Total digital voice transaction value is projected to reach $19.4 billion in a year. 

Juniper Research

Who’s ready to monetize their voice assistant investment?

As is the case in all areas of rapid technological change, companies find themselves in various stages of voice assistant adoption. Some have only begun to explore how a voice user interface can help them create better user experiences, while others have fully implemented a voice assistant in at least one channel. In some cases, the rate of adoption can be tracked by industry as most cohorts are keeping pace with their competitors. Of course, in every industry there are the early adopters and the laggards, so generalizations cannot fully capture what’s happening at an individual company level. However, voice assistant maturity can be generally tracked by industry and application.

“While some application cases are notably further along the maturity curve than others, others have yet to discover paths to create monetisable moments with their voice experiences.”

Juniper Research

Indeed, there are multiple paths to monetization, and which path a company chooses will largely depend on their markets and whether they’re an OEM or a service provider. For hardware manufacturers, partnering with the right voice AI platform provider may determine readiness for monetization, as the right elements need to be in place to realize real revenue. According to Juniper Research, one of keys to realizing revenue from voice assistants is the availability of hundreds of content domains that can answer a wide range of questions and provide responses relevant to the user experience.

“Increasing the size and accessibility of the content domain libraries will be critical to increasing the number of transactions processed by voice assistant services. In turn this will increase the value proposition of voice commerce to third-party retailers, and generate new revenue streams for voice assistant platforms.” 

Juniper Research

Based on the criteria for monetization—an established voice assistant solution in at least one channel that is able to provide fast, accurate responses through a large library of domains, and user adoption of voice user interfaces in that market—we’ve identified 4 industries on the cusp of generating new revenue streams through their voice user interfaces.

1. Banking and Finance

Organizations in the service sector—banking and finance in particular—have actively sought voice AI to help solve the challenges associated with contact centers and customer support. Conversational AI technology has allowed these institutions to improve the user experience through voice assistants that can quickly and accurately move customers from issue to resolution and reduce the friction caused by legacy IVR systems. 

Delightful user experiences, like those delivered through Bank of America’s ERICA, have paved the way for other financial institutions to implement voice assistants that combine natural language understanding with predictive analytics and the power of artificial intelligence to learn over time and accomplish complex tasks with conversational prompts and responses.

Through these voice user interfaces, financial organizations are enjoying increased customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) that contribute to the bottom line through customer retention and upselling opportunities.

Payment companies, such as Mastercard, are taking a slightly different approach. They’re innovating to provide their customers (the retailers and restaurateurs) with solutions to their service and payment needs. Through their AI Powered Drive Through and Shop Anywhere solutions, Mastercard is reducing friction in the ordering process by removing the need for customers to wait for an employee to take an order and enabling staff to focus on order throughput. Solutions from supporting partners will lead the way for small and medium businesses to realize the benefits of voice assistants in a way not possible on their own.

Solutions from supporting partners will lead the way for small and medium businesses to realize the benefits of voice assistants in a way not possible on their own.

In the near future, monetizable moments for the finance sector may come in the form of interactive voice ads. As TV watching habits continue to move away from traditional TV, and advertisers move away from static ads that interrupt the viewing experience, engaging user experiences through interactive voice ads will provide new revenue streams for a variety of service providers, including the financial sector.

2. Retail and restaurant ordering

Voice commerce via established voice assistants in home speakers has sparked interest in monetization opportunities in the retail and restaurant industries. Too often, these solutions fail to deliver the desired results due to heavy competition and noise on platforms crowded with competitors, sometimes from the platform owners themselves. Lack of priority listings and lower-than-expected revenue have left retailers and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) looking for better avenues to sell their goods. 

In addition to solutions from business partners, such as Mastercard, large franchises are creating their own voice assistant solutions or partnering exclusively with a platform provider. Two examples of these solutions include McDonald’s’ voice ordering solutions, now being rolled out in a few locations, and Starbucks’ partnership with Alibaba’s ELE.me food delivery platform. However, neither of these solutions are available at all locations. 

Large franchises are creating their own voice assistant solutions or partnering exclusively with a platform provider.

According to RetailWire, McDonald’s is still struggling to solve the “complexities of handling promotions, menu differences, and recognition of regional dialects.” For obvious reasons, the Starbucks solution is only available in China—with no indication when the company may move to voice-enable their own app or provide voice ordering in other locations.

The future for the retail and restaurant ordering space is moving toward omnichannel experiences that include voice-enabled mobile apps, websites, and in-store kiosks, as well as voice ordering via the phone, voice assistants populating customer support centers, and voice-enabled devices designed to help employees locate items and provide up-to-date inventory and pricing information. All of these advances will provide better customer experiences overall and contribute to brand affinity and loyalty.

Other monetization moments will come in the form of interactive voice ads and revenue sharing with hardware manufacturers in the form of responsive and proactive suggestions. Without interrupting the user experience, custom voice assistants will be able to respond to requests for restaurants and other services with suggestions for specific brands, ordering opportunities, and payment solutions. Partnership agreements provide revenue to the OEM with the voice assistant resident on their hardware as well as income generation for the participating retailer, restaurateur, or other providers.

Without interrupting the user experience, custom voice assistants will be able to respond to requests for restaurant and other services with suggestions for specific brands, ordering opportunities and payment solutions. 

In another scenario, the voice assistant could anticipate a user’s needs and make suggestions for services based on previous behavior, context, and location. These proactive ads would use the predictive power of AI along with the personalization only available through wholly-owned, custom voice assistant solutions. As mentioned in the Juniper Research report, access to an extensive library of content domains is key to these monetizable moments.

3. Hospitality

Smart speakers, smart home devices, voice-enabled mobile apps, and voice-enabled kiosks in the lobby are all the ways voice assistants are making their way into hotels. Impacted by the pandemic, hoteliers are actively seeking more ways to improve the safety and hygiene of their properties. One of those initiatives is implementing voice user interfaces to keep interactions socially distanced and hands-free.

In-room controls via smart room devices are only half the solution for guest experiences. While smart speakers provide the cloud-based information experience that will help travelers find local events and places to visit and eat, their presence in the room creates additional expense through loss and maintenance for hotel owners. In the future, smart TVs, equipped with voice assistants that have access to the cloud, will be able to provide more than just hands-free entertainment.

In the future, smart TVs, equipped with voice assistants that have access to the cloud will be able to provide more than just hands-free entertainment.

Smart TVs in hotel rooms can become an on-demand concierge for guests, allowing them to not only find things to do and places to eat, but also make reservations and buy tickets. Additional revenue opportunities are available for the hotels themselves through automated room service ordering and new travel reservations with the same hotel or other properties under the same corporate umbrella in different locations.

In some cases, the hotel property could act like a hardware manufacturer and offer revenue sharing with local businesses. Partnerships would give certain businesses the opportunity to be offered as proactive or responsive suggestions and share revenue with the hotel property when purchases or reservations are made.

4. Media and Entertainment

Smart TVs and voice-enabled apps are helping consumers navigate through a plethora of content streaming options. Streaming services, such as Pandora, are finding ways to personalize content by understanding user’s preferences, curating content to meet their moods, and delivering content relevant to the context of their current activity. 

Smart TVs with voice-enabled remotes, like Vizio, are set to help users navigate through content while providing extra services through cloud-connected voice assistants that can do anything from ordering food to booking travel. Turning to TVs for the next level of voice commerce offers consumers a way to use their voice and see choices displayed on a screen, all from the comfort of their favorite chair. 

Turning to TVs for the next level of voice commerce offers consumers a way to use their voice and see choices displayed on a screen, all from the comfort of their favorite chair. 

In the future, viewers may see interactive ads that appear briefly and then disappear unless they choose to continue. Smart TVs are also an ideal platform for proactive and responsive suggestions from retail partners who share revenue in exchange for enjoying preferential status for search results or having their products suggested as part of related searches. Monetizable moments can occur in many different forms on TVs placed in homes, hotel rooms, and even on cruises.

Technological advances and consumer desire to find more ways to complete tasks without touching shared surfaces have combined to increase the usage of voice commands. 

“Usage of voice commands has increased since the COVID-19 outbreak. 52% of voice assistant users say they use voice tech several times a day or nearly every day,  compared to 46% before the outbreak.”

Juniper Research

Even if we emerge from the pandemic to return to normal daily life, our routines have changed, and our sensibilities around sharing space and surfaces with others will be forever altered. In addition, we’re becoming used to conducting our business remotely, and technology, such as voice AI that makes that process easier and friction-free, will continue its march toward ubiquity.

Recently, we gathered thought leaders from a variety of industries to discuss “The New Age of Voice Commerce”. Watch the webinar on-demand now to hear what they have to say about the potential of voice AI to generate real revenue. To take a deeper dive into why and how innovative monetization opportunities work for companies across industries, read our newest guide, “Voice Assistants Evolve to Become Revenue Generators”.

If you’re ready to get started, we have the expertise to help you bring your voice AI strategies to life. Visit houndify.com or open a free account.

Karen Scates is a storyteller with a passion for helping others through content. Argentine tango, good books, and great wine round out Karen’s interests.

Interested in Learning More?

Subscribe today to stay informed and get regular updates from SoundHound Inc.