Why's That Ad Talking to Me? Nuance Unveils Mobile Voice Ads

Credit: Nuance

Those mobile advertisements you see on your phone and within apps are about to get much smarter and chattier. Yes, they're about to be able to converse with you.

Nuance, the provider of voice recognition software, has announced "Voice Ads," a platform that will enable advertisers to create mobile ads that can chat with users.

"We power lots of voice interactions from ones on smartphones to TVs to cars. It is a natural extension to bring that into the advertising world," Peter Mahoney, Nuance's chief marketing officer, told ABC News.

The idea is that a user will be able to ask the ad a yes-or-no question or the ad itself will ask people to respond with a single word. In a demo video released by Nuance, a male user asks a magic eight ball if he should buy a ring, presumably for his girlfriend. The eight ball responds by saying he should buy that ring, it then suggests that he should buy Alpha, a fake deodorant, before making the decision. It sounds and works a lot like the mobile voice assistants in your phone, like Siri or Google Now.

The message is that advertisements can be more interactive and compelling for end-users. "People have taken the standard desktop metaphor and strung it down to a mobile device. And that doesn't work as well as people would like," Mahoney says. "The idea is to create a level of engagement with the consumer and with the brand."

But Nuance says that ads won't just start interrupting your Temple Run game or the email you are reading. "The consumer has to push a button to say 'I am okay talking to this thing.' You want them to be able to ignore it," Mahoney said. When the technology is implemented by advertisers there will be buttons within the ad that will say something along the lines of "Hey, You Can Talk to Me!" Mahoney said that the technology might not only be applied to display ads, but also audio ads in streaming radio services, like Spotify or Pandora.

So when will you start seeing or hearing them? Within the next two to three months, Nuance says. "We think there is a lot of excitement for the capability," Mahoney said. "We think there will be fair amount of competition to be the first out with this sort of ad."