SCA promotes local events with voice-activated offering

Media group debuts The Locals Guide, curated community events content prompted by growing use of voice-activated devices

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) is claiming an Australian-first with its new voice-activated locals guide offering aimed at making community events listings more accessible to share with audiences.

The Locals Guide has been launched in Queensland and is available via several voice-activated assistants and smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Sonos and Android Auto. The service curates a mix of local and featured events, family and kids’ activities, sporting matches and markets across a local geographic area, and also features special interest pillars around seasonal events like local festivals, key retail periods, school holidays and grand finals.

The content is accessible using voice commands and based on local events supplied by advertisers and partners. It’s also connected to a trigger-based email activation enabling users to be sent details of a showcased event they’re interested in. The Locals Guide is also available as a podcast across 10 locations on LiSTNR.

It's the brainchild of SCA Brisbane head of news and current affairs, Natasha Jobson, and head of the Studio Brisbane, Jeanna Manifold, who collaborated with voice tech company, Talk Via, to develop the voice-activated skills. First piloted in Brisbane, the guide has been extended to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. In addition, local breakfast broadcasters across SCA’s Queensland network will be showcasing local events up into far North Queensland and The Whitsundays, as well as Darling Downs and Central Queensland.

Tourism Events Queensland has jumped on-board the guide straight off the bat, partnering with SCA to highlight a series of ‘Good to go’ events across the Sunshine State. These include Roma’s ‘Easter in the Country’, Winton’s ‘Way Out West Fest’, the Gold Coast Film Festival and the Sunshine Coast’s Australian Body Art Festival.

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO, Leanne Coddington, said events were a key part of the state’s offering.

“We are delighted to partner with SCA to launch this new technology as we continue to seek new and innovative ways to share our messages and get people travelling around the state, she commented. “Some of Queensland’s most creative and unique events will be on show through The Locals’ Guide, bringing that truly authentic insight to them through locals’ eyes.”

SCA said the decision to invest in voice-activated capability was prompted by growing interactions with its content via voice-based services. The media group noted 776,000 interactions via smart speakers in 2020, up 25 per cent year-on-year. SCA operates across 99 metro and regional markets.

 “Voice technology is gaining traction in Australia, however, the cost of entry has been prohibitive until now,” Manifold said. “The Locals’ Guide offers advertisers an affordable entry point into the world of smart speakers without the need to develop their own platform.”

SCA is planning a marketing campaign to drive awareness and uptake of the voice service, working with Amazon on a specific catchphrase, ‘Alexa, what’s happening in Brisbane’, to make it easier for users to access content. This will be co-marketed by both businesses.

The Locals’ Guide is also being promoted across the Hit and Triple M networks plus large format out-of-home.

The latest voice-based offering comes off the back of other SCA services such as news on-demand across across the Hit and Triple M network apps.

Other radio stations have also been jumping into the voice-activated space. Over the last two years, Nova, for example, has been investing in voice-enabled advertising for geo-targeting,as well as end-user capabilities such as a ‘flash briefing’ skill providing Alexa customers with news headlines,  and a Google Action providing access to podcasting and news briefs.

According to Amazon, there are now more than 25,000 voice-based skills available over its platform in Australia.

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