The shift from look to listen
By Daniel Cho
It has become second nature to type our questions into Google regardless of device. “Googling” something has become part of our everyday vernacular replacing “look up” or “Search”. However, with Google Assistant having broadened its offering into IOS from 18th May this year (expanding Google's existing "OK Google" voice controls) and the new variety of voice controlled devices and players (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Echo, Furi-O, Branto etc.), it is now easier for consumers to use their voice for commands than ever before.
There are great implications for the rise in voice command and search. How long until Google loses its king of search title? New players in the market establishing their own algorithms and search programs that require no navigation by the user, could be one underlying reason behind Google and Apple’s new found alliance, before both were behind?
From Apple’s perspective, the move to jump on board with Google Assistant indicates they recognize the growth potential, and also understand consumer behaviours have already started to shift. For Google, they understand they need to build foundations to be in as many devices related to voice assistance and voice search as possible to ensure ongoing relevance for their search business that returns approximately $27B per year in advertising in the US alone.
The rise in voice search also brings more opportunity to access more information than ever before. Now a car is safely opened up for search information whilst driving via voice. No more trying to Google at traffic lights for the fastest route to that restaurant you’re on your way to. Want a new playlist whilst doing 100kmh? No problem. Use voice search to listen to the top 20 most popular songs in the past month from results provided. Fancy a coffee to keep you awake? Just preorder from an upcoming outlet using voice in your car and have it ready when you get there.
Sounds great for consumers but what does this all mean for marketers?
With new search providers in market, we also need to anticipate changes to the way that results are optimized and delivered. We may see a blend of ranking based on both SEM and SEO models, or one of the optimization models being left behind to deliver personalized search results.
Is this the death of displayed results? These devices will be speaking out what they judge to be the best match or what you want. By that time it will be a matter of whether you are in the result or you are not at all. Making your customer specific content discoverable to voice search engines will be of the highest priority, or you will be left on the shelf.
And it could be worse still – Amazon Choice, the go to products that Amazon suggests when you ask for advice will become prioritized with voice activated search through Alexa. If you’re not on that list, or the preferred list of whatever device manufacturer the consumer is using then…
Brands must start putting their customer experience at the forefront and explore the different ways voice can be at the center of the user experience.
When considering the impact of voice we are already past talking about mobile compatible sites with our clients. The way in which results will be read, mean our clients need to start considering how their website will sound when read out loud. Our clients need to start thinking of ways to quickly take advantage of making their websites ‘read’ better or creating a voice specific webpage, where images and an aesthetically pleasing website are no longer relevant.
The path to success in this ever evolving future is for clients to start investigating how their brand, products and services can be integrated into the devices and platforms of those devices innately as well as through auction style bidding.
How will this change creative requirements or approach? Will there be a switch back to more audio style advertising? The dominance of TVC, display, rich media and video on demand has meant the core focus has been on visual executions. Video/display content will continue to play a large role in marketing, especially as more standard large screen devices incorporate voice command and search, but we need to ensure, now more than ever we are ready to be audible storytellers who can capture consumer’s imagination.
Search is going to continue to be a core piece of technology used by our consumers. Just wait for very noisy surroundings in the not too distant future, with everyone speaking to their respective device.