- January 23, 2020

The Smart Speaker Frenzy and Why It’s Happening

Cecelia Xu
Cecelia Xu
Product Marketing Manager

If you’ve been technology shopping this past 2019 holiday season, or you tuned into the January 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), you’ll no doubt have noticed smart speakers everywhere.

Why are device manufacturers in a frenzy over smart speakers, and is the excitement reflected by U.S. consumers?

Comscore’s Total Home Panel gives advertisers and agencies, device manufacturers, and content owners access to audience measurement on smart speakers, connected TVs, gaming consoles, over-the-top devices, wearables, and more. In this blog post, we’ll use this data to explore the prevalence of smart speakers in wi-fi connected households, then examine how audiences think of and engage with their devices.

1) Homes are going virtual, and smart speakers are a big driver

Indeed, U.S. homes are now more connected than ever. In November 2019, the average U.S. home had 9.2 connected devices, of which, audio devices were the most prevalent category after mobile, connected TV and computers/laptops.

Homes are becoming more and more connected, and over-the-top (OTT) devices and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are a big driver of this.

Household Reach Among US WiFi Households

2) Smart speakers see more use during morning hours

It is interesting to see that smart speakers see steady usage throughout the day, but most particularly during morning hours, namely 8 a.m. to noon. (Data-wise, we see this as the percentage of a smart speaker’s daily data received – which we can interpret as how much more a smart speaker is used during certain hours.) Both phones and streaming boxes/sticks see much more use during after-work hours in the evening, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., which is expected as those are hours when the majority of audiences have time to relax.

Percent of Platforms Daily MB Received By Hour

Going a layer deeper, below we break out smart speaker usage habits by weekdays as opposed to weekends. We can see that audiences on weekdays tend to engage more with their devices after work, from 5 p.m. and onwards, and on weekends, they tend to engage more during morning hours.

Smart Speaker Weekend Usage Spikes in the Morning

These insights open doors for savvy marketers to capitalize on the morning usage, such as branded voice commands for morning consumer goods, or weekend usage, such as translating a weekly planning or productivity enhancement app to be more voice command friendly.

3) Most popular voice commands on smart speakers are general, non-purchase focused

Lastly, how do smart speaker owners engage with their devices? We found that the majority of activities on smart speakers are general, non-purchase oriented, such as general questions, updates on weather/traffic/travel/sports, and setting timers and alarms. Only a minority of activities were focused on finding local businesses or ordering food and services.

Smart Speaker Owners Are Typically Using General Non-Purchase Focused Functions

Smart speakers present more possibilities for advertisers and publishers

Device manufacturers certainly seem in a frenzy to push smart speakers. But, as it turns out, consumers are also showing excitement for these devices, which we see in the high growth in household reach of not just smart speakers, but other IoT devices like smart watches and thermostats. Though device manufacturers are certainly in-tune with this, the most popular voice commands on smart speakers (namely, asking general questions, or weather-related inquiries) seem to suggest that brands could do more to tie consumers’ interest in smart speakers, and consumers’ patterns for smart speaker usage back to the brands’ own products.

From our analysis in this blog post, numbers are shown as an aggregate of how U.S. households in general are engaging with new connected home devices. Marketers who hope to reach their target audiences at critical points in their consumer journey should adjust strategies to match household-level demographic insights such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, presence of children, and more.

To learn more about how Comscore’s Total Home Panel insights can help your business, please contact us.

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