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Paddy Power try out some new Features on the Amazon Echo

2018-01-04 10:30:00

Recently the marketing and development team over at Paddy Power have decided to try their hand at one of the fastest growing emergent technologies in the sphere of personal assistance, voice interfaces. The looked to the most popular of these, Amazon’s Echo device and its built-in personality ‘Alexa’.

At the Festival of Marketing this morning Paddy Power’s product innovation manager, Stephen McMeel, gave an insight into the betting firm’s own experiments with Alexa apps called ‘skills’. Mr McMeel said that when it comes to voice interfaces, brands need to consider use cases that take into account context around time, location, and who might also be around. Gambling is an inherently personal experience, and customers might not want Alexa to announce to their whole family that they just won £1,000. Furthermore, as of yet, Amazon doesn’t currently allow skills that enable people to win real money.

McMeel explained that there are two different types of Alexa skills – custom skills and flash briefing skills.Flash briefing skills are simple to create and just require some content for Alexa to read out to the user. For example, Paddy Power’s flash briefing is a 90-second news clip spoken by an Irishman.

Custom skills require brands to jump through a few more sign-off hoops with Amazon but can include more complex functionality. Paddy Power’s custom skill trialled four different functions (including the flash briefing element):

  • A daily 10-second gambling tip
  • The aforementioned 90-second news bulletin
  • Gambling results feed
  • Football and horse racing podcast

The Trial

To create some buzz around the launch and encourage people to start using the skill, Paddy Power ran a PR campaign called ‘Future Fifty’. The company sent Alexa Dot devices and Paddy Power goodies to 50 prominent customers and journalists, prompting them to take part in a month-long trial of the custom skill.

The idea was to track usage of the four functions and see which ones proved to be most popular. The Future Fifty participants were invited to join a WhatsApp group in case they had any questions about how to use the skill.

User feedback included:

  • Paddy’s Story was the most used feature
  • The Football Podcast was rated as the best feature
  • Alexa struggled to understand the names of different racetracks

Recommended improvements included:

  • Add content for different sports
  • Live commentary on matches
  • Ability to check odds

Paddy Power was also able to identify clear differences in usage patterns between the custom skill and the flash briefing. The latter is clearly used as part of people’s morning routines.