Age of Alexa: Why Branding Is More Important Than Ever

In order for brands to be tip of tongue for consumers, they must develop deeper relationships with their audiences.

​​​Posted November 13, 2018
Elizabeth Rave, Marketing Director

As Seen in Media Village

Pop quiz time. When you ask Alexa to order you batteries, what brand will you get? Many of us think Duracell, as they are the industry leaders and are typically the first brand seen at any convenience store. You are wrong. Alexa will be sending you Amazon Basics. It makes sense; this means more revenue for Amazon and keeps shoppers happy with a price 50% cheaper per unit. But what happens to the name brands?

In today’s vernacular, "Uber" is the verb used to call all rideshares, "Band-Aid" for all adhesive bandages and "Sharpie" for all permanent markers. When was the last time you asked someone to search engine it versus “Google it?” Brands that advertise the most become integrated into our daily lives, speech and culture. (Editor's note: Older readers will recall that for decades "Xerox" was the go-to term for copying paperwork, and once upon a time "HBO" meant "cable.")

Last week at the Digital Place Based Advertising Association (DPAA) Summit, Anush Parbhu, Chief Strategy Officer of Mediacom, referred to the transition from “top of mind” to “tip of tongue.” According to Mediacom, by 2020 50% of all searches will be done by voice. Yet, people are 60% more likely to type a branded search than say one. That is fast becoming an issue for today’s brands.

In the age of Alexa, brand awareness is more important than ever. In order for brands to be tip of tongue for consumers, they must develop deeper relationships with their audiences. So how do you become the specifically requested brand? Parbhu referred to three key tactics: become culturally visible, become essential to consumers and create the right memory structures. The one by which out of home (OOH) can be the most additive is the first -- become culturally visible.

OOH is woven into the daily lives of people -- where they live, work, play and love. It is considered an additive media format, integrating into the audience’s day instead of interrupting it. OOH is a great driver of top of funnel attributes like brand awareness and favorability, which is why so many brands use the medium to bring new products to market. In fact, according to a study done by Benchmarketing, brands should apportion 11% of their media budget to OOH to achieve optimal performance in brand awareness, shifting spend from TV, print, and radio first. As an example, in the New York subway alone more than 75 startups have launched a campaign since 2017. Why? The magic of the subway is its ability to connect with high level executives, interns, stay-at-home parents and hipsters alike. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City leads to mass awareness in a smart and contextual way, while building or sustaining brand trust amongst onlookers.

It doesn’t stop there. We know that OOH is the best primer for search, social and mobile activation. According to Nielsen, when all media is placed on the same playing field in terms of ad spend, OOH drives 3-4 times more social activations. To start, this amplifies your message digitally, increasing your impressions and impact by tenfold. But perhaps more importantly, you ignite others to become brand ambassadors -- for free. More people talking about your brand beyond just the product increases the integration into common vernacular and tip-of-tongue potential.

Lastly, we know that frequency breeds familiarity. Leveraging the constancy of messaging and relevancy that OOH provides creates a closer relationship between the onlooker and the brand, leading to loyalty and hopefully now an increase in tip-of-tongue probability.

If you are looking to win in voice, you first need to win in branding.

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