Let the unboxing begin: After months of anticipation about when people could get their hands on an Apple HomePod, the latest voice assistant speaker is hitting doorsteps and checkout counters today. What’s more: “When you say ‘Hey Siri, give me the news’ to your iOS device, Siri will now immediately begin playing a daily news update from a popular news podcast — NPR by default in the United States,” Arstechnica reported.
The HomePod joins Amazon Alexa products, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana and many other speakers in the voice assistant market, which has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Following a strong holiday sales season, one in six Americans now owns a voice-activated smart speaker, up 198% from January 2017, according to The Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research.
The Apple HomePod
In this increasingly-competitive market, Apple’s device sets itself apart as the only smart speaker with Apple iOS compatibility. It synchs with Apple Music and Apple calendars, can send iMessages from iPhones, and runs on a voice-activated personal assistant system iOS users have been exploring since the launch of the iPhone 4S in 2011 – Siri.
As part of the iOS 11.2.5 update in late January, Apple introduced support for HomePod and new features for Siri, which now can serve up podcast-based news briefings with a simple voice command. NPR News Now is the default news briefing for Siri across HomPod and all iOS devices.
NPR on Smart Speakers
NPR has been in the voice-activation space for several years, working closely with the top voice assistant manufacturers to ensure when people want to hear the news, NPR is there, and to help enhance the audio experience on these platforms. NPR was the native Flash Briefing provider on Amazon Alexa devices at launch in 2014 and has been expanding its presence in this space ever since. Today, NPR is the first source for news across Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri voice assistant platforms, and offers a suite of briefings and native integrations for Amazon Alexa.
Today, NPR reaches 11 million streams across Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices alone each month, with growing audiences across other leading voice assistant platforms. Check out the videos below for tips on accessing NPR content across these two voice assistant systems, and look out for a video guide to Apple HomePod and Siri in the coming weeks.
Be Heard with NPR on Smart Speakers
16% of U.S. households now own a smart speaker, and that number is sure to keep growing as HomePod and other new devices enter the market. It’s an important time for brands to consider their presence in this new ecosystem, whether its through native experiences or in partnership with publishers producing content for the platform.
As a leader in audio with a strong presence in the voice assistant space, NPR offers brands a seamless access point to connect with smart speaker users. Just a few words – “give me the news” – bring NPR to life across many smart speakers, and your brand can be featured in the stream. On Amazon and Google devices, sponsors can align through :15 post-roll spots after 5-minute NPR News Now briefings.
It’s a great opportunity to promote other Skills and experiences on the system while people are actively using it. For example, NPR sponsor Peppercorn Media used the NPR Flash Briefing to promote its “Word of the Day Quiz” Alexa Skill. Within the first week, more than 10K people responded to the promo to play the quiz, a 5.5% conversion rate. With over 10,000 Skills on the Alexa platform alone and 72% of smart speaker owners agreeing they don’t know enough about their smart speakers, discovery is key.
Amplifying Skills and other integrations through sponsorship on NPR programs exposes a brand’s offering to engaged listeners who are only a breath away from diving into their next favorite smart speaker feature. And it’s a valuable space for brands. Research from NPR and Edison Research found that 42% of smart speaker owners say they would be interested in using skills from brands they follow on social media.
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