Can Smart Speakers Make Us Smarter News Consumers?

In 2017, smart speaker purchases grew by nearly 300% with more than 24 million Americans now owning voice assisted devices according to Edison research. This rapid adoption is expected to continue: an estimated 75% of U.S. households will own a smart speaker by 2020. As the number of homes in the U.S. with these voice assistant smart speakers grows, Americans are able to access news and information in new ways. However, little is known today about how user interaction with these devices inform understanding of the news cycle or the way consumers interpret audio news and information these devices deliver. This team will study user interaction and news IQ between Americans who use voice assistants as part of their media diet and those who do not. This research focuses around three key areas:

  • Trust: Does using smart speakers change the listener’s relationship with news/media brands?
  • Confirmation bias and partisanship: Does usage of smart speakers reinforce existing perspectives, or help change minds/drive discussion?
  • Understanding of current events: Does regular smart speaker usage make people informed about what’s happening in the world?

The team will also be conducting qualitative interviews with publishers and working to find insights from device manufacturers to better understand the way information and created and presented to consumers.

Project leads: Kaizar Campwala, Kate Seabury

January 01, 2018