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BBC Good Food finds a use for voice and Alexa; it helps users ‘elbow deep in flour’

The BBC Good Food app is now available on Alexa

Voice is one of the potential playgrounds media brands are playing in to prophesize how the public will consume content in the future. For BBC Good Food, it knows its users have dirty hands and are in need of easier ways to access recipes on demand.

The publisher, part of Immediate Media’s remit and part of the commercial wing of the BBC, has opened up 11,000 recipes to Alexa users with a bespoke skill. Digital product and innovation consultancy Hi Mum! Said Dad built the skill, intent on building an intuitive product.

Hannah Williams, head of digital content at BBC Good Food, told The Drum that the tool helps make the existing content or recipe archive more “useful and relevant”.

She added: “What better use case for hands-free content than when you’re trying to follow a recipe when your elbow deep in flour. The benefits to our users are clear, so from a business point of view it’s where we need to be.”

Williams cited that commonly referenced study from ComScore claiming that 50% of all searches in 2020 will be through voice interfaces. While that study has its skeptics, it does chart a future where voice plays a bigger role. She added: “Wherever you stand on these estimates it’s clear voice will be a disruptive force in publishing and ignoring it is not an option.”

On the Skill, users can browse recipes by ingredients, dishes, diet types, meal speed, meal difficulty, meal prep time, cuisine, course and chef. They can also be combined. It can also throw up random suggestions for the on-the-fence chef. It will guide users through each step at their command.

For Good Food, this is part of a wider strategy to make itself available to users the way they want to read the site, be it a quick Google on a commute, to following the Healthy Diet Plan. “Ensuring access to quality food and recipe content however and wherever people need it drives all aspects of our brand proposition, from the content we create to the platforms we serve it on. Voice is just the latest example of that overarching commitment.”

The tool will be tested, chopped and changed in the coming months in response to how consumers use it. In particular, Williams promised an exciting update to the app just in time for Christmas. To conclude, she called the move “an unprecedented journey”.

The BBC Good Food skill is available on Alexa now.

Publishers are increasingly looking at voice tools and in particular Alexa’s skills as a means of marketing and distribution. The Drum previous spoke to The Times about how it chose the World Cup to launch its Alexa skill.

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