Voice assistants, search and the future of advertising

Over the past few years, voice activated search has come a long way.

When Apple first integrated its voice assistant, Siri, into the iPhone 4S in 2011, it was considered more of a gimmick than anything else. Six years on, and a report by ClickZ and Marin Software reveals that 7% of marketers now mark voice search and digital assistants as top priorities in their marketing plans.

Interestingly, 4% of marketers reviewed in the same report also stated that they would be prioritising ‘smart hubs’ in 2017.

Since the launch of Amazon’s Alexa, so called ‘smart hubs’ have grown in popularity with consumers. Even more so, there is now a demand from consumers to have these as part of their ‘connected’ homes.

As AI technology gets smarter and smarter, it’s evident that we are shifting into a voice led revolution. ComScore said that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches and Google’s recent statistics show that 83% of people surveyed agreed that voice search will make it easier to search for things anytime they want.

Speaking to a machine may have felt unnatural and futuristic only a few years ago, but consumers are now embracing the revolution. Smart hubs have championed the growing possibilities of search, and they have now become genuine channels for daily activities, as consumers are excited and impressed by the speed and efficiency with which these devices can help them complete day-to-day tasks.

With this in mind, it’s clear that there is potential for advertisers and brand marketers to make use of voice assistants.

The opportunity for marketers and advertisers

In terms of search functionality, marketers need to be aware of the varying capabilities of each smart hub on the market, as each one works slightly differently and is powered by a different search engine. With each brand’s product portfolio continuously growing, this becomes even more of a challenge.

Amazon’s Echo, which has been on the market the longest, operates with Bing, whereas Google Home relies on Google to answer questions. Apple’s highly anticipated HomePod, due out in December, will have Siri integrated into the device.

The efficiencies of each search engine vary, and for marketers, these characteristics are crucial in deciding how their brands can attract the right attention.

Understandably, we need to remember that marketers are still testing the waters on how smart hubs can be implemented in marketing plans in the most seamless way. After all, as these voice assistants become part of a consumer’s connected home – and at the centre of the family – it’s natural that consumers may be slightly reticent when it comes to inviting advertisers and brands into this personal space.

This was certainly the case for Google, who was immediately hit with criticism after playing what sounded like an advert for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast film, during Google Home’s ‘What’s My Day Like?’ feature.

Similarly, there was disdain after Amazon introduced sponsored audio messages before and after conversations with Alexa. It’s inevitable that there will eventually be paid opportunities on voice assistants, but they need to be able to integrate these messages in a way that doesn’t interfere with the user experience.

How brands and marketers are tapping in

Voice assistants are now part of the omnichannel consumer experience. If used correctly, they are an effective – and natural – conduit between consumer and brand.

Although Burger King’s ‘Whopper’ TV advert caused a stir by hijacking Google Home devices by prompting the speaker to search for the definition of the Whopper burger, it won a Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions, and also helped the brand win overall Creative Marketer of the Year.

This nifty hack was hailed ‘the best abuse of technology’ for generating a direct response between consumer and company, and sparked conversation and awareness around the brand and campaign.

This was clearly a stunt ad, and not a long-term use of the voice activated technology. However, its success highlights the opportunities available to advertisers – and interest from consumers – in engaging with this technology.

Could this be a sign that the future of advertising and marketing is heading in the direction of voice search?

So, what could the future look like? At mporium, we know that many marketers have mastered search-based advertising, and are reaping the rewards. Soon, we could see brands bidding for the top spots on voice-activated results.

We may even see brands collaborating with the technology companies to integrate special offers that would be delivered via voice assistants, or suggest alternative solutions to specific queries.

What the future holds remains to be seen. However, it’s clear that as the technology behind voice activated search undeniably progresses, marketers will find a way to adapt to this new search reality that presents itself in the form of voice assistants.

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 4 Sep 2017

AI-Powered Search Engine Aggregates Audio Clips

Audioburst, an AI-powered audio content platform, has launched a search engine for desktop and mobile allowing searchers to find and share audio files aggregated from sites like BBC World News, The Brian Joyce Show, and CT on the Hill.

The audio clips are categorized by U.S. News, World News, Business, Tech, Sports, Health, and Entertainment. On the platform, users can search for live and pre-recorded audio segments from radio shows and podcasts.

Sites like National Public Radio offer a way to search for audio clips, but Audioburst claims that the larger search engines like Google and Bing don’t do an adequate job of indexing this type of aggregated content from multiple sites and serving it up on search engines. For instance, typing “Charlottesville” into the search box on Google or Bing basically returns written news articles and videos.

Each one- to three-minute audio clip stored in Audioburst’s Content Library is retrievable through the company’s search engine and major engines such as Google, Bing and Safari.

Source: mediapost.com; 15 August 2017

Micro-Moments Now: Three New Consumer Behaviors Playing Out in Google Search Data

Two years ago, Google introduced the concept of micro-moments. We put a name to a behaviour that, thanks to mobile, was becoming pervasive. People had started to expect an immediate answer in the moments they wanted to know, go, do, and buy. The concept of micro-moments was perhaps as truthful, observable, and relatable a consumer behaviour trend as any marketer could wish for.

Illuminating this behaviour and the associated consumer expectations proved to be really useful for marketers. In many ways, the micro-moments conversation has provided a reset and a roadmap for companies who sought a simple mental model for how to approach the otherwise daunting force that is mobile. It helped marketers think about which moments mattered most, and it created urgency. It also inspired an evaluation of a range of legacy habits and approaches—from how to think about share of voice and how to measure business results, to how to deliver useful experiences.

Now, midway through 2017, it’s clear that the centrality of micro-moments—for consumers and marketers alike—is as important as ever. It’s an entrenched behaviour—micro-moments are only multiplying. People can’t remember what it was like to not be able to learn, do, or buy things when the need struck by reaching for the device in their pocket.

New consumer behaviours up the ante

Micro-moments have been accelerating consumer expectations for “right here, right now” experiences. People take for granted that information is at their fingertips and tailored to their specific needs. But the thing about human beings is they never stop wanting that little bit extra. It’s becoming evident that they’ll keep raising the bar, wanting more useful information, more personalization, more immediacy. My team wanted to dig into these evolving expectations and understand how consumer behaviour has changed since we first introduced micro-moments. Here’s a glimpse of the consumer taking shape behind the data.

The “well-advised” consumer

Think about the last time you used your phone to find an answer or guide a decision. For some of you, this might have been about something big—like that safe family car you’re hoping to buy, or the Yosemite adventure you’re planning. But for others, it might have been, well, more mundane—like knobs for kitchen cabinets, best home remedies for wasp stings, or the least stinky sock for hiking.

People today want to be empowered to make the right decision, big or small—and they’re turning to their phones for advice to guide them. We can see this in the data. Mobile searches for “best” have grown 80% in the past two years. And again, it’s not just for high-consideration items or weighty topics. Because they can, people are turning to their phones for information on just about everything. For example, toothbrush searches have grown more than 80% on mobile and searches for “best toothbrush” have grown more than 100% on mobile in the past two years.  Before mobile, doing the research might have been more effort than people cared to expend. Now it’s easy and fast, so we can be confident in any decision we’re making, big or small.

The “right here” consumer

People also expect digital experiences to be made just for them—including experiences that are tailored to the location they’re in right now. Several years ago, marketers were able to deliver this type of relevance by taking explicit cues people gave them. For example, if someone wanted to find a sushi restaurant nearby, their search query would likely include the zip code, area name, or even “near me.” Today, people expect brands to gather enough contextual information to deliver location-specific responses without someone having to search for anything more than just “sushi.”

These expectations transfer to site and app experiences, too. Compared to just a year ago, smartphone users are significantly more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location.  Today, people just assume their smartphone will know where they are and will deliver information accordingly.

The “right now” consumer

Ever needed a restaurant reservation at the last minute? What about a hotel room? Or a pharmacy? People turn to mobile more than any other source to help them get things done, make decisions, or purchase. And every day, people are becoming more reliant on their smartphones to help make last-minute purchases or spur-of-the-moment decisions. In fact, smartphone users are 50% more likely to expect to purchase something immediately while using their smartphone compared to a year ago.

Mobile empowers people to be nimble. They can organize themselves as much (or as little) as they like because they know their smartphone is there for them. And, they expect brands to respond by understanding their needs and addressing them right now.

Looking ahead

These consumer shifts are an inevitability we can plan for. Expectations will only continue to rise. People will want to be more informed, have more personal experiences, and get things done even faster. And as these expectations ratchet up, so do the requirements (and opportunities) for marketers.

Source: thinkwithgoogle.com; July 2017

Marketing to Gen Xers? Here’s What They’re Watching on YouTube

Generation X, born between the mid-1960s and late ’70s, bore witness to the technology revolution. Its members are old enough to remember a time before the internet, but young enough to have adapted quickly to the changing technological landscape.

The incentive for brands to engage this generation on YouTube is, in a word, massive. According to Pixability, Gen Xers account for over 1.5B views every day on YouTube.1

To better understand Gen Xers’ priorities relative to their YouTube engagement, Google conducted qualitative and survey-based research in partnership with Ipsos Connect and Flamingo.2

The findings? Gen Xers’ behaviour on YouTube reflects broadly held assumptions about the generation: their ability to self-start, their love for nostalgia, and their desire to be in the know, just to name a few traits.

Below, check out the stats behind the YouTube behaviour of Gen Xers.

Click here for more on the research article

Source: thinkwithgoogle.com; Jan 2017

Ramadan: Be a Brand that Wins Hearts and Minds

The holy month of Ramadan is almost upon us. It will be a period of extended fasting, prayers, personal reflection, and celebration for Muslims. So how can brands potentially be a valued partner during this period? We’ll be presenting some online Malaysian consumer habits during Ramadan to help.

Spiritual Education, Great Cooking, Trendy Fashion, and Celebratory Music
Muslims depend heavily on the internet for a variety of Ramadan needs. In July, we see searches increase on both google.com.my and YouTube for prayers (35% month-on-month), recipes (32% month-on-month), and Malay apparel (28% month-on-month). On YouTube, searches for celebratory Raya music increases 1,133% in July.

Create Content Around These Interests and Promote Them
Brands looking to be loved and valued this Ramadan should create online content around these categories of interests and promote them on mass awareness channels such as:-
1. Display Networks and Video Platforms
2. Search platforms where Muslims are actively looking for content.

To give a sense of what’s important to Malaysians in the year 2015, we’d like to share the top searches around recipes, Raya music, and Malay apparel in 2015 thus far. For example, you might want to consider promoting how-to recipe videos for chicken and cake dishes, because they’re so popular. How-to-wear tutorials for popular apparel such as tudung bawal will surely earn you love as well.

Definitely Promote Yourself on Mobile
Searches for recipes, Raya music, Malay apparel, and prayers have quickly shifted from desktop to mobile. The share of these searches on mobile more than doubled in the past 2 years, from 27% to 67%. Here’s how you can make sure you’re ready for a mobile strategy:-

  1. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly here with the mobile-friendly test: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
  2. Spruce up your video creatives with mobile-optimized visuals, such as with YouTube Cards, which provides carousel images enticing viewers to explore multiple offerings: http://youtubecreator.blogspot.com/2015/03/make-your-videos-even-more-interactive.html

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Source:Google Malaysia; 16 June 2015