Voice-activated technology and smart speakers – Amazon Echo and Google Home – are dramatically affecting the daily lives of Americans and how they interact with brands. Curious how this new tech will affect your marketing? Start by getting to know the audience.

New research from NPR and Edison Research offers the first in-depth look at the behaviors and attitudes of Americans who already have smart speaker devices in their homes. Find out why 42% of users say their device is now “essential” to their everyday life — and why 65% wouldn’t go back to life without one.

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Top Reasons Marketers Are Paying Attention to Smart Speakers


1. Audiences and consumers are quickly adopting smart speakers. 

Ownership has exceeded 7% of the U.S. population in just two years1, already outpacing the adoption rates of smart phones and tablets2.


2. Consumer touch points are becoming consumer listening points for brands.

In August 2017, Adweek called voice AI “the next frontier of brand marketing. And Forbes reported: “Users are looking for something home-based to centralize all their devices and needs. Smart speakers are filling that void.”


3. These devices are forcing a change in marketing strategy across categories.

comScore estimates 50% of all search will be via voice tech by 2020. 

Toyota, Campbell’s Soup and Unilever are already leveraging voice-activated Watson Ads that allow viewers to “talk” with a brand ad and are seeing strong results. 

“We have already begun to see that consumers are spending more time with these cognitive ads than with other digital ads,” says Carrie Seifer, CRO for IBM Watson content and IoT platform.


4. For marketers, smart speaker devices require a more personalized approach to reaching audiences.

“If you think about a brand that has spent millions… on digital marketing – banner adverts, apps and things like that – suddenly they are having to wrestle with a device that has no screen,” SharpEnd founder Cameron Worth told Marketing Week last fall. And while some smart speaker models now feature screens, this isn’t a guarantee. 

“What looks good on paper isn’t necessarily what we hear [Alexa’s] voice say,” said Stephanie Hay, Head of Conversation Design at Capital One. “We have to do shifts to the experience like saying ‘hi there’… which is a more approachable welcome. We also have to balance everything that we would create as part of the Capital One brand against something that people already expect from the Alexa voice.”4


5. Smart speaker devices present big engagement opportunities for brands. 

“[1-800-Flowers] does not look at these channels as advertising channels but as engagement channels,” said Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-Flowers.com3.

People frequently use more words and context when conducting a search via voice, providing brands and advertisers more insight into where the consumer is within the purchase funnel, according to Campaign.

Beyond search, smart speakers offer solutions for tactics from content marketing to paid advertising in streaming platforms such as NPR One.



Register for Updates

New data from The Smart Audio Report will be released in early 2018! Complete the form below to receive the new research first, and to get the latest news on voice activation and smart speakers.

About the Smart Audio Report: Methodology

The Smart Audio Report is based upon a national online survey of 1620 Americans ages 18+. 800 respondents indicated that they owned at least one Smart Speaker (160 Google Home, 709 Amazon Alexa-enabled, and 69 who owned both). 820 respondents did not own a Smart Speaker device, and were surveyed for comparative purposes. The device owner data was weighted to nationally representative figures on Smart Speaker users from The Infinite Dial 2017 from Edison Research and Triton Digital.

About Edison Research

Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world, and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, CBS, PodcastOne, WNYC, and many more leading companies in the space. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world. Edison Research is the sole provider of election exit poll data for the National Election Pool comprised of ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue.

About NPR

NPR’s rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling connect with millions of Americans everyday—on the air, online, and in person. NPR strives to create a more informed public—one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners consider public radio an enriching and enlightening companion; they trust NPR as a daily source of unbiased independent news, and inspiring insights on life and the arts. More information at npr.org/aboutnpr and following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


1. Edison Research
2. ITU, New York Times, Pew, Wall Street Journal, U.S. Census Bureau via eMarketer
3. The Drum: AI and bots are changing the consumer conversation, brand marketers claim
4. https://www.mediapost.com/omma-sxsw/live/#content