The Future of Smart Speakers


Ezra Eeman (Head of Digital at EBU Media Department in Switzerland), Tamar Charney (Managing Director of Personalisation and Curation at NPR in the USA) and Tomos Granryd (Head of Innovation Teams at SR in Sweden) discussed smart speakers in this session.

Tamar said that there have been 33 million hours of listening to NPR on smart speakers in just 2019 so far. She discussed their strategy at NPR to bring public radio content to listeners in a voice-controlled world: “simplicity is key”. She said that delegates should keep voice commands as simple as possible, so that listeners can find their stations with ease. She talked about the visual capabilities of smart speakers too, and how NPR came up with a “visual newscast” which provides images to match the newsreaders voice, without having to create a CNN-level of news.

She said: “I don’t know where this is going, it’s a new space. We try and build on what we’re good at and then extend it into this new space.”

Ezra followed and said that “voice is the new electricity”. He was clear, saying that delegates needed to embrace the future. He talked about which content and formats might work on these new platforms. For example, radio news needed to be repackaged into flash briefings and interactive stories needed to be built from scratch. 

Ezra also talked about the challenges of smart speakers: from meaningful audience data to discoverability; from a lack of editorial control to reliable publishing tools.

Smart speakers are clearly here to stay – and this session looked at best practice and how we might overcome the challenges they bring.

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