In April, Nuance Communications(s nuan) decided to bring its speech recognition and natural language understanding technology to a new industry: advertising. It created what it called the Voice Ad, a marketing medium that allows mobile users to speak to a digital advertisement on their phones and receive an answer back.
Nuance teamed up with Millennial Media(s mm), Jumptap (which are set to merge) and Ad Marvel to bring these new interactive ads to market, but it turns out that a European ad network beat all of them to the punch. Widespace is debuting the first Nuance-powered voice ad in two Swedish media company apps: those of Nordic daily newspaper Expressen and television programming guide Tv24.
There are no details yet on what form the ads will take, but in general Nuance’s voice ads are supposed to be self-contained brand-specific versions of a virtual assistant like Siri(s aapl). Users can interact with the ads by asking them plain-speech questions. Nuance’s language servers in the cloud interpret the question and provide the appropriate response either via text, video or spoken word.
Nuance and its partners are encouraging brands and their ad agencies to use their traditional spokespeople as the voice blueprint for the ads. So, for instance, if you’re selling insurance and the face of your TV ads is Morgan Freeman, Freeman’s pre-recorded voice can answer your questions within the ad.