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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Voice hardware and software took center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, further proving that audio as a medium presents enormous opportunity for publishers and brands.

Why it matters: The Internet of Things is connecting life in unprecedented ways, from health care to home entertainment to transportation. At the center of user adoption and functionality of these new connected-devices is voice, not video.

  • "I think we should all obsess about voice," says GE CMO Linda Boff on Adlandia's podcast. "It almost reminds me of the early days of search and domain and what do you stand for."
  • "Voice is also challenging for brands. What's the role for a brand if visual is stripped down? I don't think it will be binary. I don't think everything will go to voice, but to me that's what we (as brands) should be focused on."

The pivot to voice comes at a time when short-form video as a means of audience development is taking a nosedive.

  • Facebook is changing its algorithm to lower the rankings of videos and content from publishers and brands.
  • YouTube, the largest video distributor globally by far, continues to battle brand safety issues, from terrorism to pornography.
  • User engagement for posts with short video is significantly less than short-form posts, slideshows and long-form posts, according to a Parse.ly study of premium publisher video on social.

To Boff's point, there is a striking similarity in the early days of voice vs. early days of search.

  • 30% of web browsing will be done via voice by 2020, according to the technology research firm Gartner. Presumably, a large chunk of those search commands could be monetized.
  • The U.S. search ad market is expected to grow to $45 billion by 2019.

The biggest differentiator between voice and text search is that Amazon is the company that is powering the voice search market, not Google. (Although Google's massive voice-activated gum-ball machine at CES shows it's an area they are pushing to win).

Go deeper

Biden to sign 15 executive actions on Day One

President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.