The launch of Amazon Echo in 2016 presented a brand-new opportunity for advertisers. Radiocentre, Radioplayer and Global Radio asked us to capture a UK perspective on ownership and use of screenless voice-activated devices, to explore their impact on radio listening and to consider how brands might adapt to an increasingly voice-activated future.

Technological innovations stimulate new behaviours that users aren’t always aware of, so we used a mix of observational (filmed ethnographic) research and a deeper exploration of behaviours via further (qualitative) super groups, which resulted in a detailed understanding of voice interactions across the entire household – from age five upwards!

In addition we used a nationally-representative omnibus survey to establish current awareness, ownership and likelihood of purchasing voice-activated devices, and finally a focused (U&A) survey of device owners helped us to quantify behaviours.

“The study highlighted how easily radio adapts to new technologies, making it more resilient to change.”

One of the key takeouts from the research was the rate at which Echo devices are already becoming widely established. At the time of our findings 14% of British households owned one or more and predictions were that they’d soon become mainstream technology in the UK.

Despite other options such as Spotify being available, we discovered that radio dominated listening on the device, accounting for 72% of all Echo time spent on audio entertainment. The study highlighted how easily radio adapts to new technologies, making it more resilient to change and helping to keep it relevant to both listeners and advertisers.

As audio-led user interfaces skyrocket and search becomes not only triggered by but also delivered by audio, brands will need to maintain distinctive brand sounds to help them stand out from the crowd. Consistent use of straplines, music and voice – over time and across different platforms – helps drive brand recognition, likeability and ultimately deeper engagement.

See our work in action here.


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