Get creative at Cannes and assist your customers in new ways

By: Kevin Prior, Product Marketing Manager, Actions on Google

Every year, the leading agencies and brands meet in the south of France at the Cannes Lions Festival to celebrate and learn about cutting-edge technologies and creative work. The festival inspires the next wave of innovation that can break through and reach increasingly discerning consumers. The Google Assistant team is showcasing new ways to interact with your customers: by assisting them to get things done.

We’ve seen people’s expectations change driven by an even more curious, demanding, and impatient consumer,  and to rise to these expectations we need to not just help consumers find the information they want, but also help them do more with it. This is where the Google Assistant comes in.

To show how your brand can—or how you can help brands—reach new customers in assistive ways, we’re on the beach at Cannes with a set of creative Actions our partners built for the Assistant, to help their customers get things done in new devices and contexts. We hosted a panel on the subject earlier this week – check it out here.

In our beach huts, you’ll see how Actions can help a customer plan a trip with Lonely Planet, or help customers complete a step-by-step recipe with Tasty--all powered by voice and visuals, in assistive context with the Google Assistant. Apply a little sunscreen and drop by to try them yourself, or see our full schedule at Cannes to meet the rest of the Google team.

We’ve been fortunate enough to also work with leading agencies that have already built for the Google Assistant as some of the early adopters to experiment with our platform. Rehab, for example, built Safari Mixer, a playful game where people can invent a brand new animal by combining the head, body, and legs of various animals.

We caught up with a few agency partners to share some of their thoughts on building assistive experiences for voice:

Should brands be investing in voice-enabled devices already? Why?
“This type of experience will provide far richer data about their customer needs and preferences because the strong intent and behaviours that voice assistants support. This will help brands: respond faster, develop better products, improve marketing, responsive pricing and even savings in supply chain.” -- Rob Bennett, CEO, rehab

“Absolutely. Voice is here to stay and it's a great fit for many use cases. By being early adopters, brands have the opportunity to cement customer behaviors NOW, before there are many more competing Actions. Once customers establish their behaviors, they're really hard to break later on, which is great for brands that act now.” -- Tony Chen, Co-Founder & COO, Conversable

How should brands think about their presence in an Assistant ecosystem in relation to the rest of their digital presence?
“If a brand were a person, what does it look like, and what does he or she say? The Assistant connects a voice to a brand, and with that creates a promise of human behaviour. This is a golden opportunity to create a layer of digital interactivity that will reflect the values the brand stands for.” -- Sander van der Vegte, Head of MediaMonk Labs, MediaMonks

 “Think conversationally. If a consumer were sitting next to you on a park bench, what conversation could you have with them that they would leave thinking they really enjoyed that discussion, that person, and they can't wait to see them again.” -- Brandon Kaplan, CEO, Skilled Creative

Can voice and conversation enable new use cases for brands and their businesses? If so, why?

“Voice conversations unlock many use cases where it's unnecessary or inconvenient to type or tap to complete a task. That might be the case where you're in the kitchen and your hands are dirty, but you can ask for the next step in a recipe as opposed to scrolling on your phone. Or you might be in your car and unable to type.” --  Tony Chen, Co-Founder & COO, Conversable

 “Voice enables new use cases for brands because it is hands-free and on-demand. It allows users to ask for exactly what they want, rather than navigate a screen to find an answer.” -- Patrick Miller, Chief Innovation Officer, Deeplocal

“Absolutely. Think about the context in which you’re engaging with a voice-enabled experience -- it’s typically when a user cannot or does not want to access a screen, like when you’re in a car. Brands have never really had the opportunity to speak to their customers while they’re on their way to the grocery store, or in that moment they realize they need gas, and voice-enabled experiences now make those moments accessible." -- Amanda Felson, Director of Partnerships, Assist

What challenges do brands face in this new age of voice-enabled experiences? How can they navigate them? 

“Don’t push products directly. A voice service or utility should provide users with a benefit. Sometimes that benefit is making it easier to buy or order something but try to think bigger. Brands should be trying to help consumers: solve a problem or achieve an aim.” -- Rob Bennett, CEO, rehab

“Because the ecosystem is still so new, getting started with voice-enabled experiences can seem like a daunting task. We would encourage brands to begin with the low-hanging fruit— the simple questions that they have immediate answers for. From here, they can then moderate the questions that are being asked and develop solutions for those queries.” -- Patrick Miller, Chief Innovation Officer, Deeplocal

What are you most excited about for the future of these voice-enabled devices and experiences? Where do you foresee this ecosystem going?

“We foresee a world where your voice assistant knows your preferences, as do your 3rd party brand assistants in their area. They will be able to make personalised recommendations and can pick up a conversation or interaction you’ve had on another platform from your home speaker, to your car or even in-store.” -- Rob Bennett, CEO, rehab

“We see family gaming as a big opportunity, and also Assistant supported commerce will change consumer behavior - i.e. buying in the car and on-the-go will increase.” -- Adam Marchick, Co-Founder & CEO, Alpine.AI

Knowing full well that brands are interested in how they can get ahead of the curve for this new age of assistance, we also launched a new website that can help you navigate the fundamentals in building for the Google Assistant, supported with case studies from WeMo, Akinator, and SongPop.

And if you’re an agency already building Actions, we’d love to hear from you. Just reach out here and we’ll see if we can offer some help along the way!