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Photo: Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images

More Americans own a smart speaker than ever before and the devices are also seeing an increase in usage, according to a survey from Adobe, results of which were shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: Smart speakers and displays not only represent a new frontier for computing, but also could shift the balance of power in search and advertising, as Google faces tough competition from category pioneer Amazon.

By the numbers:

  • 39% of respondents said they own a smart speaker, up from 36% in February 2019 and 28% in January 2018.
  • Among those who do own a smart speaker, 46% said that they used the devices' voice assistants more often during the three-month period from April through July than they had previously.
  • Listening to music remains the most popular use (reported by 60% of survey respondents), followed by asking about the weather (55%), "asking fun questions" (46%) and searches (45%).
  • Roughly 39% of people said they used their smart speakers for each of the following: basic information queries, checking the news, and setting reminders or alarms.

Between the lines: We still don't know how quickly smart speakers will take off as an advertising platform, or how effective such ads are.

To that end, Adobe said that 51% of those surveyed said they have heard an ad on their speaker, double the number that said so in May 2019. Of those who are hearing ads, 85% said they hear them at least weekly.

  • 58% of consumers find smart speaker ads to be less intrusive than other major formats (TV, print, online, social). That's up from 43% in May 2019.
  • Similar majorities say they find speaker ads more engaging and more relevant to their needs and interests.
  • 53% reported that a smart speaker ad eventually drove them to make a purchase, up from 39% in May 2019.

Go deeper

Series / Misinformation age

Platforms give pols a free pass to lie

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over the past week, Facebook and Twitter have codified a dual-class system for free speech: one set of rules for politicians or "world leaders," another for the rest of us.

Why it matters: Social media platforms are privately owned spaces that have absorbed a huge chunk of our public sphere, and the rules they're now hashing out will shape the information climate around elections for years to come.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.