Nuance, which offers the Siri-like customer service app Nina, today unveiled a new advertising format that allows users to talk to the ads that appear on their devices.
In an effort to boost mobile ad engagement, Nuance's targeted ads are optimised for location, mobility, and voice input — much like a mobile personal assistant. Consumers are prompted by an ad to participate by speaking to it.
"Voice Ads redefines the relationship between consumers and mobile advertising, giving them an opportunity to engage with brands in a more meaningful way," Michael Thompson, executive vice president and general manager of Nuance Mobile, said in a statement.
In a demo video (above), Nuance shows off Voice Ads on an advertisement for a fake deodorant brand, with the "Don't Sweat It" campaign. The ad includes a Magic 8 ball that can answer questions that might make you sweat, like "Should I buy that ring?"
Citing eMarketer data, Nuance reported that mobile advertising is one of the fastest-growing segments of the digital marketing landscape. Global mobile ad spending more than doubled last year, reaching $8.41 billion (£5.5 billion); it is forecast to reach $37 billion (£24 billion) by 2016.
Nuance partnered with creative marketing agencies Digitas, OMD, and Leo Burnett, as well as mobile advertising companies Millennial Media, Jumptap, and Opera Mediaworks. Nuance plans to distribute its service to more than 100,000 app publishers, and hopes to reach hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide.
"Voice has already changed the mobile interface, making it faster and easier for consumers to discover and access information, and find people and content," Thompson said. "Mobile advertising shouldn't be any different, and should be designed specifically around the unique capabilities of the mobile device."
Specific partner companies have not yet been revealed.
Amidst some confusion on the web yesterday, Nuance confirmed that Voice Ads is indeed a real product and not an April Fools' Day joke.