If Mobile Ads Could Talk

Nuance Voice Ads Virtual Agent Question: what do you get when you cross a chatbot with mobile ad technology and a natural language processing engine? Answer: A mobile ad that you can have a meaningful conversation with. Why would you want that? Well, have you ever wished you could ask an ad a question? Maybe a mobile ad for a product or service catches your attention, but you don’t really feel like clicking through to some awful landing page. What if you could talk to the ad and have it respond in a meaningful way to your question?

A TechCrunch article on Nuance’s new Voice Ads product suggests that the technology for conversational mobile ads exists. I haven’t seen a live demo, but it appears that the Voice Ads product is basically a chatbot that responds to a pre-programmed question and answer script.

Intelligent virtual agents with an underlying chatbot (basic pattern matching) technology are increasingly popping up as an alternative customer service channel on corporate websites. Mobile personal assistants like Siri for the iPhone and Skyvi, Speaktoit and others for Android, are becoming indispensable. The Nuance Voice Ads product is the first time I’ve seen the chatbot concept used for mobile ads.

What will happen when the deep question and answer skills of cognitive computers, of which IBM Watson is a prime example, are combined with conversational chatbot style capabilities? At that point we’ll have a lot more than just engaging advertisements to talk to, I’d suspect.

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