Talk to the app; the face is not listening

The Spark

9th January 2018

“Ok, Google”.

“Alexa”.

“Hey, Siri”.

Commands that we’re already using daily are about to become even more prominent in our use of dialect. Thanks to Google, Amazon, Apple et al, the landscape in which consumers and businesses search has changed forever. And it’s all down to voice.

More and more voice-first devices are hitting the market. Approximately 24.5 million devices were shipped last year, whilst research firm Canalys predicts that a massive 56.3 million devices will be shipped in 2018.

At the beginning of 2017, 40 per cent of adults used voice search at least once per day.

A massive 64% of Chinese consumers are using voice assistants to search, leading the way globally.

46 per cent of Americans now use a voice assistant.

And Google says that 20 per cent of all mobile queries are voice searches.

As we discussed a couple of months ago, 50 per cent of all searches are expected to be voice searches by 2020. 50 per cent. So, we had better get used to looking, and probably sounding, like a pillock as we talk to our phones, smart home assistants and watches.

If 2017 was the year that voice-first technology reached the masses, 2018 could be its zenith.

So, like the savvy business-folk that we are; how do we take advantage of this?

Brands that don’t acclimatise to voice search will be left behind so, for marketers, it means a whole new stream of SEO optimisation. Currently, voice-search is a one-result throwback; you won’t receive page after page, or voice result after voice result, like we currently do with the traditional Google search. Brands must become THE top result to gain traction. The coveted ‘Position zero’, or featured snippet, as Google calls it. This may not remain par for the course for long, but like any SERP, those pages that appear first tend to gain the most traffic; an increase of 114 per cent in click-throughs in some cases.

Brands will need to think about the types of questions consumers will be asking, paying attention to those and optimising its SEO to answer those questions. Learning how to respond to those ‘How do I’ consumer questions will be a major priority for marketers; results will need to specifically answer those questions rather than respond to keywords. Think of long-tail FAQ style content and you’ll begin to envisage what brands need to consider; everything from their specific product and/or service through to the top-line questions that influence their marketplace.

Some are already adapting. BuzzFeed News has responded with a ‘Reporting To You’ functionality: speak the command, “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?”, and you’ll receive a daily news update. ESPN, The Wall Street Journal and CNBC have all followed suit. The movie, Dunkirk, created a choose your own adventure style game for the Amazon Echo to align with its release last year, a trend we will surely see catch on going forward, certainly in the movie and gaming industries. A search with Hellman’s Alexa voice command can help you create a recipe from whatever ingredients you have to hand – you’ll even get the recipe emailed to you. You can begin to see where we’re heading. But that’s just a drop in the ocean.

Voice search is fast becoming the norm, and brands and businesses that don’t act now could get left behind.

We’re going to start by asking Alexa what to do…