Hearst is forming a 10-person team it hopes will bring it closer to the bleeding edge of technology, beginning with voice-controlled applications.
Dubbed, the Native and Emerging Technologies (NET) group, the innovation hub is already exploring how the publisher’s brands might exist on voice-activated devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Earlier this week the team created an Amazon Echo Skill for Good Housekeeping, allowing people to listen to a step-by-step guide about how to remove stains. As listeners work through removing the stain, music plays in the background.
"It's a really good branding opportunity - as we're providing that advice, we can also give the consumer guidance on which brands they should look for," Wiser said in an AdWeek report. "That's a theme that we're going to build on as we take our expert editorial content and weave it in with branded content."
Despite the absence of advertisers at the moment, Wiser hopes to sell brands on these types of voice experiences in the future. For example, the Good Housekeeping skill could recommend a stain-removal brand that’s been reviewed by the magazine’s editorial team or a food-themed skill could suggest a particular brand for an ingredient when a recipe is being read out.
It’s similar to the Telegraph’s plan Amazon Echo, having rushed to be one of the first publishers on the service in order to have enough time to work out what the editorial and commercial opportunities are. Given that data from the US shows how most people use the device in their living rooms and kitchens, the newspaper brand believes there could be an opportunity for its lifestyle content, including food, drink and recipes.
Beyond voice-activated applications, NET is also interested in artificial intelligene, augmented reality, smart TV devices such as Roku and mobile messaging apps like Snapchat.