Talking Mobile Ads Are No Joke | Adweek Talking Mobile Ads Are No Joke | Adweek
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Talking Mobile Ads Are No Joke

Leo Burnett, OMD and Digitas will pitch the promos to brands

It may be April Fools' Day, but Nuance says that ads talking back to you are nothing to laugh about. The 20-year-old software firm this morning announced an initiative that's designed to create two-way conversations between consumers and mobile advertisements.

The Burlington, Mass.-based firm's Voice Ads product seems to have a fairly simple execution. The promos—via text or audio—prompt mobile consumers to tap a microphone button in the ad unit and then speak to it. If they do, a brief marketing script begins that's meant to engage the person in a dialogue and ultimately lead to a sale.

Currently, the format hasn't been tested by brands. But a lot of big industry names have partnered with Nuance with the promise of getting clients on board, including agencies Leo Burnett, OMD and Digitas as well as mobile nets Millennial Media, Jumptap and Opera Mediaworks.

"Mobile advertising hasn't worked well," Peter Mahoney, Nuance cmo, told Adweek. "Engagement has been a challenge, and we think that's where voice ads come in."

While Mahoney hopes to generate traction among advertisers on streaming music services like Pandora, he said, "we see great opportunities for this product in other formats, such as digital TV and automotive [in-car] apps."

Meanwhile, Brett Leary, Digitas vp of mobile, explained his agency's interest in the product via a statement. "Compelling user experiences are critical to mobile advertising—you have only a few seconds to capture the interest of a demographic that is always on the go, multitasking, and seeking instant gratification," he said.

Laura Schneider, mobile specialist for OMD, added, "Infusing voice as part of the ad experience gives us an entirely new landscape of creative assets and capabilities that will transform a brand’s ability to quite literally speak directly to their target audience."

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