Voice Search In A Viral Marketing Campaign

Burger King’s marketing campaigns have once again brought it into the spotlight. Today’sexample relates to voice asistants and how not having a featured snippet left the fast food chain at a disadvantage in one of their viral marketing campaigns.

Firstly, we’ll look at why gaining consent for marketing is important. Then we will see how the backlash came for Burger King, before considering what you could do better.

Gaining Consent for Marketing is Essential

The message of the advert was simply that it isn’t possible to explain how great the Whopper is in a 20 second advert. Instead of asking the viewers to take a look at their website, Burger King took a more forward approach.

You may already know that most new smartphones have an assistant like Siri and Google Assistant. These assistants can be voice activated by uttering a short phrase such as ‘hello Google’. We can complete simple functions like finding out when your favourite football team is playing without having to type. Burger King decided to activate the feature and ask the device to search for their Whopper burger.

Here’s an example of how the advert worked and activated the Google Assistant before Google disabled it:

The advert activates the assistant, performs a search, then gives you the result. A complete success for the advert’s objectives, but in the end, netizens used the advert’s success against it.

Some internet users changed the wikipedia entry from which the result was taken. Instead of being a neutral message describing the burger chain, it became a form of protest used to mock it.

Backlash Against Marketing Without Consent

voice search

Backlash agains this marketing campaign may have come about because some viewers were upset about their phones being effectively hijacked to show them adverts they were not interested in. This resulted in them deciding to to take action. In hindsight, it may have been possible for Burger King to avoid some of the negative repercussions.

As you can see from the advert above, it brought up the Wikipedia entry for the burger and read it. Some Wikipedia users edited the wiki page to include negative definitions.

Arguably, with the resources available to Burger King, they could have had the featured snippet for themselves. An SEO campaign to better optimise their website and own the featured snippet would have made sure they controlled the message delivered.

Some of the people affected seem to feel the activation of their phone without their consent is a step too far. Certainly, it raises important questions about our privacy. Did Burger King invade that privacy and force us to do something we didn’t want to?

The advert is a reminder that the technology we carry around with us every day is capable of listening to us. Although the intended use of voice recognition was to make our lives easier, this week’s controversial advert and resulting backlash has highlighted the fact that it has the potential to be used ain ways we may not have considered at first.

Your Marketing Actions

Although we don’t have the same resources as Burger King, there are things we can do to make use of modern technology like voice assistants.

We could ask users to talk to their devices or to look for us on search engines. However, people are not ready or are unwilling to let us make use of their devices without explicit consent.

Whatever means we use to promote our businesses, it’s important that our audience feels they’re being treated fairly.

Optimise Your Website

You should optimise your website to take advantage of voice search technology if that’s part of any marketing strategy you deploy. If your website isn’t yet optimised for voice search, you could be missing out on the brand recognition that comes along with it.

We need to optimise our websites to provide the type of information voice assistants can use. Burger King’s advert relied on the Wikipedia featured snippet that defines their burger.

Sites like Wikipedia or IMDb often make up these snippets, so Burger King left the results of their campaign in the hands of other organisations.

The best thing we can do, is optimise our websites so that they provide the featured snippets results. Featured snippets are a part of search engine results pages drawn from the content of a webpage, often. They can sometimes rely on special code markup to help search engines to do this.

featured snippet result of the question “What is the Whopper burger?” Take a look just below the result and you will see a list of other questions people ask

The image above shows the result of the question “What is the Whopper burger?” Take a look just below the result and you will see a list of other questions people ask.

Google often provide answers to some questions you ask in rich snippets at the top of the page so you don’t even need to click anything on the search page. If you get your business featured up there, then your result will be read in Google Assistant searches.

When people search, they often use questions to get the results they’re looking for. Assistants that make use of voice search mean that answering the questions people ask is becoming more important.

Be A Question Answering Resource

If you’re trying to establish yourself as the authority in your industry, featured snippets are a great way to show that. You need to start thinking about your entire website as a resource to answer questions.

  • Use your prospect’s devices with their consent
  • Optimise your website for search
  • Answer the questions people will be asking
  • Establish yourself as the authority

Technology is great and provides many opportunities for us to connect with our audience.

How do you feel about voice search and its potential uses? Join the conversation of Twitter @MoreThanVenice.