Want to have a voice conversation with a mobile ad? Nuance Communications thinks you do, and this week released its new Voice Ads. 

The Burlington, Massachusetts-based company describes the most common mobile screen, on a smartphone, as “the worst screen for advertisers” because of its relatively small size. To counter that lack of real estate, Nuance has announced a new mode of mobile advertising, in which an ad appears, speaks to the user, and seeks a voice response from the user. The Voice Ads are designed to utilize several of the unique capabilities of mobile devices, including location awareness and voice input.

Dragon, Siri

Nuance is best known for its Dragon Speech Recognition software, widely used on computers, and for its work in creating the tools that have powered Apple’s intelligent voice assistant, Siri. In other words, this move could be seen as Siri Goes to Madison Avenue.

Partners include creative ad agencies Digitas, OMD and Leo Burnett, and distribution to more than 100,000 app publishers and hundreds of millions of consumers is provided through Millenial Media, Jumptap and Opera Mediaworks.

Brett Leary, a Digitas vice president, noted in a statement accompanying the announcement that Voice Ads take advantage of the mere seconds an advertiser has to capture the interest of a mobile user. He added that voice can help to create “an even stronger emotional connection through conversation with a brand.”

Nuance and its partners hope that this kind of interaction can provide “mass intimacy,” scalable across millions but compelling at a personal level -- a goal that interactive media often tries to reach but that ads, in particular, seldom do.

Autos, TVs

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Michael Thompson, Nuance Mobile executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement that Voice Ads redefine the relationship between consumers and mobile ads. “Voice has already changed the mobile interface,” he said, making discovery and access to information faster, and “mobile advertising shouldn’t be any different.”

While Nuance’s announcement focuses on mobile devices, it’s clear the company has broader goals in mind. In addition to the use of Voice Ads by telcos, handset and tablet makers, third-party developers and OS creators, the ecosystem is also targeted at automobile and TV OEMs.

A Voice Ads Software Development Kit is designed to manage the complexity of such issues as managing the state of the microphone to start or stop a recording, or determining when to stream audio to Nuance’s servers. The company said that technical skills for ad creation involve only a basic understanding of JavaScript.