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LEARNING TO TALK AGAIN - VOICE SEARCH AND THE IMPACT ON MARKETING: PART 1

Profile image for David Berendt

Part 1

This was my first PechaKucha at the Adido Attention Conference earlier this month and as always I over prepared facts and figures and overall, really overestimated how much I could fit in!

I’ve had a particular interest in mobile (all form of gadgetry really) and in particular how I can combine my interest in this and my day to day PPC and marketing.

 

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There were so many elements to consider but what got me onto voice search was the way that my wife has spent an increasing amount of time talking to her phone and developing a certain politeness in her relationship to her phone, always saying “thank you Google” upon a query or request being resolved.

During the Silicon Beach conference in Bournemouth, one particular thing mentioned was the statistic that our attention span is now at an estimated 8 seconds long on average and has been reducing over time. This appears to have some links to our consumption of technology; the way in which we are constantly bombarded by information from all sources, each vying for our undivided 8 seconds of “quality time” from ads to app notifications telling me that I haven’t posted anything in x number of days... and whilst I can see the invasiveness of this and it’s easy to cast criticism, it does leave me in a particular hypocritical quandary insomuch as that as a marketer I am the one looking to grab attention!

This leads me onto mobile and voice search, our adoption of technology, the value of trying to cut in line and get those 8 seconds of your attention, asking where voice is going, and how can we as marketers imprint on that gap before others.

 

Mobile Growth

Any digital marketer will be able to attest to the growth in mobile; the way in which site traffic used to be predominantly through desktop sources has over time become heavily focused on mobile.

It was recently discovered (at the time of writing at least!) in October 2016 that mobile traffic sources (51.3%) overtook desktop (48.7%) as the primary devices for traffic [StatCounter 2016].

 

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(http://gs.statcounter.com/download/internet_usage_2009_2016_ww.png)

 

This is not to say that desktop is falling out of use though; desktop traffic is remaining relatively stable but comparatively mobile is climbing and this is the context to bear in mind. It again reinforces the notion that our consumption of information is increasing; that our demand and in a sense ‘entitlement’ to having access to information no matter where we are is what is driving the change. It is also valuable to remember that wearable tech currently is still being tracked as mobile due to the way that it either links to the mobile device or through its own sim.

Since that point we have seen a continuation of that climb. [Business2Community 2017]. By the end of 2018 we would expect a rise in the amount of mobile data used by 60% year on year, and a 2019% increase by the end of 2020 compared to now - an estimated 30.6 exabytes a month!

So we can see an increase in mobile use and a projected increase in mobile use, but further to this, looking at expectations it is estimated that by 2018, 80% of total traffic will come from mobile devices [Hitwise 2017].



 

So mobile is growing, projected to grow further, and behaviours indicate an increased hunger for consuming videos of cats on a whim… and this is where voice comes into it. The main draw for voice has been ease of use, and the hands free utility [Moz 2017].

It’s easy to jump onto the bandwagon for voice search optimisation but is now the time? Many question the worth of voice search, and I agree with SeerInteractive, but question it... don’t disregard it. Voice search is still a work in progress and there are limitations, both technological and with regards to our rate of adoption of this technology.

Latest stats show that only 44% of voice searches are being used in more conversational language with the majority barking orders systematically as they would type.

 

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(http://www.wordstream.com/images/google-voice-search-meeker-report.jpg)

 

In fact most of these searches have been focused on simple command based queries though this is expected to change.

 

 

While the above does show a very sharp increase, a 2016 study [MindMeld] correlates with this, showing a large spike at the start of the reporting year (Michael Knight you were well ahead of your time). This is why the expectation for the way which we ‘converse’ with technology I would expect to develop, we are still in the infancy of voice.

December 2016. Amazon. The single greatest selling item was the Echo [Forbes 2016]. Voice technology is rapidly becoming more pervasive, and brands are competing to lend you an ear wherever you are with expanding competition. Combining this with the rate of information consumption and our level of adoption we can estimate that our speech patterns will ‘normalise’ when talking to devices. By the end of 2020, an estimated 30% of all searches will be done without the use of a screen [Gartner 2017].

 

Our relationship with technology

So we can see a growth in the use of mobile and voice search as well as a projected continuation and probably dominance. The issue right now if this were to be a target focus is the rate of adoption, how we view technology.

Data from Moz shows that the majority of voice search takes place at home, with friends, or in an office by yourself. We are embarrassed. It’s odd to talk to a machine in conversational terms... and that’s the main limit right now. A study also showed that 64% of those asked found individuals making use of voice search were irritating. Let’s not forget that much of the technology we use now was at one time perceived to be unnecessary and a status symbol.

Tech companies are playing this smart though; voice assistants are increasing in their accuracy and relating answers back in a much more ‘human’ way. Recently after thanking Google, it responded to my wife “you’re very welcome”. There are steps being implemented to engage us.

Try it. Ask it a joke. You may also find the answer typed with emojis the way people may respond. If you are on Android, try a range of Harry Potter spells. The Imperius curse doesn’t work. I tried.

The point is it is trying to become more ‘relatable’, encouraging normal conversation.

This can be seen to an extent by an increasing (albeit slow) volume of long tail search terms. We need to be more conversational to ‘talk back’ to our audience.

Read Part 2 of David's talk here to discover how you could be targeting voice search in your business.

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