Google Assistant Bests Amazon’s Alexa in Battle for Voice Dominance
Bullish on voice, Google expects its Assistant service to be active on approximately 1 billion devices by the end of this month.
Announced at CES, the company said the increase represents “nearly 100% growth since May of last year,” when Assistant was installed on about 500 million gadgets.
For those keeping track, that makes Assistant the most popular virtual voice service on the market. Its closest competitor, Amazon’s Alexa, has 100 million users by comparison.
Google VP of engineering Scott Huffman attributed the achievement to his team’s focus on adding new functions, along with Assistant’s continuing global expansion. “In 2018,” he said, “Google Assistant learned to speak new languages, expanded to new regions, and became smarter with new features that can help you throughout your day.”
All told, Google Assistant is now fluent in nearly 30 languages and available in 80 countries. In addition to Android smartphones, it’s supported by products like Google Home and Google Home Hub and compatible with more than 10,000 smart home devices from over 1,600 third-party brands.
New Nielsen Tool Measures Video Ad-Viewership Across Devices
In partnership with Google, Nielsen – the 90-year old analytics firm best known for its expertise in addressing the biggest challenges facing the media, advertising, retail and fast-moving goods industries – is planning to bring over-the-top (OTT) video- and mobile-viewership figures to its cross-platform measurement solution, Total Ad Ratings.
Positioned as the only service that tracks “beyond device” activity, Total Ad Ratings is the result of the merger of two Nielsen products, National Panel and Digital Ad Ratings, and is meant to offer advertisers a more holistic view of TV and video viewership.
According to Nielsen, the revised solution will “offer the ability to compare the performance of ads delivered through TV and digital using comparable metrics based on real people and real data.”
It will also measure de-duplicated views on TVs, computers, mobile devices, tablets, or any combination of screens.
CPG Giant Unveils AI-Powered Products at CES
Proving that big CPG brands can be innovative, Procter and Gamble launched not one but six connected products at CES.
The first, Olay’s Skin Advisor platform, employs artificial intelligence to deliver personalized product recommendations based on selfie analyses and consumer surveys; the second, SK-II Future X Smart Store, uses facial recognition and gesture-driven interactions to enable a unique shopping experience; and the third – Oral-B’s Genius X Toothbrush – tracks brushing habits by algorithm and provides feedback. Also shown were GilletteLab’s Heated Razor, Opte’s Precision Skincare System, and Airia, a smart home fragrance dispenser that creates scents on-demand.
According to P&G’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, “we are living in a time of mass disruption, where the exponential power of technology combined with shifting societal and environmental forces are transforming consumer experiences every day.”
Committed to integrating cutting-edge technologies into everyday products and services to improve people’s lives, his company he said, is “combining what’s needed with what’s possible.”
Millennials Attracted to Hotels the “Get” Digital
Commissioned with the goal of understanding how millennials find and select hotels, a new survey conducted by U.K. furniture-maker, Knightsbridge, suggests that a “strong online and social media presence” is among the assets one needs to succeed.
Conducted in partnership with Viga, a global collection agency, the results were based on responses gleaned from 1,000 18- to 34-year-olds who had made a hotel reservation in the last two years. Nearly all (80%) claimed to find their ideal location via Google. Proving their propensity for impatience, 49% were found to delay booking if it couldn’t be done online, while more than half said they wouldn’t do so if a considered location’s website was difficult to use.
One in four admitted to using social media sites to find accommodations, and 83% said they would be more likely to book a hotel after seeing images from someone they follow on social media. Adequate technology is also important, according to the survey, with 70% saying they would be more likely to book a hotel if it featured such amenities as WiFi, keyless entry, mobile payments, Smart TVs (featuring Netflix, of course), and smartphone charging points.
The results, says Knightsbridge CEO Alan Towns, show a “shift in travelers' priorities, as a generation used to sharing and documenting its experiences becomes the dominant demographic.” Another key finding was that 76% of those surveyed confessed to sharing images of themselves in hotels rooms on social media, which, he says, “illustrates the importance of interior design and key furniture pieces.”
Microsoft and Kroger Get Behind “Connected Stores” Experiment
The partnership between supermarket giant Kroger and Microsoft continues to blossom as the duo advance their plans to build connected grocery stores.
As part of a pilot, the pair transformed two locations – one in Monroe, Ohio, the other in Redmond, Washington – using technology powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
Among their solutions is EDGE, a digital shelving system designed to deliver “Enhanced Displays for Grocery Environments.” In addition to facilitating changes to shelf displays in real time from anywhere, it can also display promotions, dietary and allergen information, and more.
Capable of generating reams of product and customer data , Kroger intends to use EDGE (and services like it) to deliver targeted ads to customer as they shop.
“The EDGE Shelf,” said the company in a recent statement, “will enable Kroger to generate new revenue by selling digital advertising space to consumer packaged goods (CPGs) brands” while reinventing the customer experience.