The Digitally Enabled Podcast:Claiming Your Digital Identity - The Verbal Way
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I’m here with Chip Edwards. Chip, say hello to the audience. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing.
Greg, it’s great to be here. I totally enjoy getting on your show. I’m talking about the idea of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and how they’re changing, how people are interacting with computers or compute resources going forward.
Chip, we’ve talked a little bit before the show, and that’s a very humble way of presenting your idea. I admire that about you because you’re helping people find a domain name, and you’ve called it the invocation name, and that gives them permission for their brand to perform better in these digital settings. Is that a fair way to characterize it?
Most people are familiar with the web. If you have a website, you’re going to be on the web, you need a domain name on the web interface. As people start using these voice devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, your domain name doesn’t mean anything anymore because people are talking. What’s the audio version of your domain name? On Amazon Alexa and Google Home, they both created this thing called an invocation name. When people invoke the verbal version of your website called a skill or an action, that’s how people get to your content on these devices.
Before I let you tell about all the cool things you’re doing about it, you have to tell us how the heck did you find this idea? What’s your journey? How did you discover this problem? Our audience is focused on the human stories of how you discover these digital problems. Tell us a little bit about how you got to this.
I was a technology manager, managing teams for quite a while. One of my tasks was building out an innovation lab. As I was building out that innovation lab, I was trying to figure out what are the technologies that are coming down in the future, that as a firm, we need to be cognizant of or we need to be aware of, so that we can prep for those changes that are happening, and do some demos with them to say, “Here’s some stuff that’s coming down that we should be working towards, or at least prepare for.”
One of the things that was just starting then was Amazon Alexa came out with that Echo Dot. They were starting to push that a number of years ago. That was one of the things that I put in the innovation lab is people are going to be starting to change how they work with the computers. No longer are they going to have to sit down at their desktop or even pull out their phone. They’re going to be able to talk to computers, and that’s going to change how from the computer side, we have to be ready to interact with our audience.
We need to ensure we get ahead of that curve because things are innovating and changing.
That was one of the things that I did, and then I transitioned from the firm I was working for and went out on my own, building this passion project that I’ve been working on. I got into this space a lot more to be able to help brands, especially people with blogs or podcasts, to be able to leverage these devices to be able to deliver their content to their audience.
You created a consulting firm called Create My Voice. How do you educate a brand that they need to be aware of this or do something about it? You discover the problem, you’ve got a platform, and now you’ve got to go and explain to somebody, “You have this challenge on Alexa or Google.” What do you say to them? How do you make them aware of the challenge?
That’s one of the things that’s actually been fun to do the last several years is going out and doing some speaking, getting on podcasts, and letting people know. Millions of people use these devices everyday, but most people haven’t made that connection to be like, “How is my business going to be using this? I’ve got this brand. How do I make sure that my brand shows up on these devices in the way that I want it to show up?” Most of what I’ve been doing is going around and speaking in podcasts and letting people know, “This is something that you need to be aware of because it’s going to turn from a toy that we use in the house to keep track of our grocery list and find out what the weather is to, ‘This is how my audience is going to be engaging with my content. How is that going to happen?’”
It’s a little bit of awareness. The minute you told me there’s a difference between a domain name and a verbal domain name in a sense, it was so intuitive. I was like, “Of course, everyone should be doing it.” You raise some awareness, you get a brand interested in it. What do you do to claim this bit of verbal territory? I don’t want you to give me the recipe for Coca-Cola, but what’s going on when you have to solve this problem?
Invocation name is the technical term for it. To be able to claim an invocation name, both Amazon and Google solve the problem that we have on the website. On the website, you can claim a domain name without doing anything. You own the name, but you don’t have to do anything with it. Lots of times, people went out and grabbed domain names and held them hostage for the actual person that really wanted that domain name and would have to pay them for it.
Both Google and Amazon have made it so that you can’t just grab an invocation name. You have to build a website, in essence. Amazon calls them skills. Google calls them actions. You’ve got to build that that does something, and then you submit it to Amazon and Google for them to certify it. When they certify it, then you get an invocation name tied to it. What I do is I build those connectors. I build those actions and skills and connect them up with a brand’s content, so that now their invocation name is out on those devices connected to their content.
For us at Monigle, our major challenge is we want to have a human experience, and understand the human problem, and then have the brand connect and deliver to it. We’re always looking for these points of connection. You’ve discovered one that I bet 99% of the people are unaware of at this moment. It’s a fascinating opportunity for brand management to fill in the cracks of all the different touch points in the ecosystem.
Digital Identity: Things are changing. We need to innovate to a new world.
You’re talking about two ecosystems that probably drive 30% of all revenue for brands. It’s fascinating. When you’re building the skills and actions, what are the biggest barriers for brands to think about? What do you have to help them solve? Is it an easy solve, or is the bigger problem awareness? Or do you get to it and teach them a whole different vocabulary about this? What’s the challenge around that solution?
There are two things. One of them is the idea that a conversation like we’re having right now happens very differently than building a website. On a website, I put my content out there in a structure, and it’s the audience’s responsibility to figure out how to navigate my website to be able to get the content they want. In a verbal world, conversations go all over the place. You have to build your UX, your user experience in a very different model. That’s a little bit of a learning curve, where you’ve got to figure out how to react to your audience when you have no idea what they’re saying, but you’ve got to figure out what they’re saying to be able to react to it.
“What’s the conversation around my brand so that I can build the response to that question?” Good or bad. I can imagine there are multiple conversations. That’s a fascinating journey, Chip, and a really innovative idea. My final question for you, what’s the one word you would use to explain digital branding today and why? For you, I’ll limit it. You can’t say invocation name. You have to pick another word, and those are two words.
The word I would use is public innovation. Things are changing, and we’ve got to innovate to a new world that is happening. When we think about it, we recognize that it’s happening, but sometimes we stick with our old models and our old world of, “This is how we’ve always done things,” but things are changing. Amazon and Google are investing millions. I think Amazon had 10,000 people working on their Amazon Alexa world. They’re putting a lot of resources into this world. Things are innovating and changing. How do we make sure we get ahead of that curve because it is changing?
Chip Edwards of Create My Voice, I’m glad you came to the show. I’ve learned a lot. I hope our audience have too. Thanks for being a part of Digitally Enabled.
Thanks a lot, Greg. I appreciate the time.
About Chip Edwards
Love’em or Hate’em, Smart Speakers like Amazon Alexa are used by millions of people every day. Technologist and Teacher, Chip Edwards has spoken across the country about how content producers can use Smart Speaker platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home to distribute content and engage with their audience. Chip is a partner at CreateMyVoice.com where they help content producers claim their Invocation Name and be found on the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa platforms.
Chip is a partner at CreateMyVoice.com where they help content producers (bloggers and podcasters) claim their Invocation Name and be found on the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa platforms.