Why stop at talking phones? Nuance intros voice ads

Image: Shutterstock / brem stocker

Personal assistants like Siri already hear and respond in spoken language. Nuance Communications, the company that powers the speech understanding technologies behind Siri and other digital assistants think the ads displayed in our phones should listen to our voices as well.

Nuance Voice Ads screen shotNuance on Monday announced it’s expanding its speech interface expertise into yet another industry, advertising, launching a new service for app developers called Voice Ads. Yes, we’re talking about talking ads here – well, at least listening ads. Whether the ad responds via text, video or spoken word is entirely up to the ad creator. The key is that advertisers now have a new way of engaging with their audience rather than just mere splashy images, said Mike McSherry, VP of Advertising and former CEO of Swype, the predicative keyboard company Nuance acquired in 2011.

Say Jeff Daniels is the spokesman for your product. Instead of just flashing up an image of Daniels holding your widget in the confined space of an app banner ad, your ad could let you virtually ask Daniels questions about it and your company. Answers are pre-recorded, of course, but as we’ve witnessed with the depth and variety of conversational answers Apple has given Siri (try asking Siri if she believes in God), a committed ad agency could have some fun with the medium.

McSherry said that mobile app developers can embed Voice Ad technology into their apps through an SDK, which will allow ad networks like JumpTap, Millennial and Ad Marvel to serve up the new formats in those apps, either as banner or interstitial ads. Nuance is currently working with three agency partners to develop the new ads: Digitas, OMD and Leo Burnett.

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