How Far Has Voice Search Progressed to Date?

Image Credit: it.wikipedia

Looking back a few years to when the paid search landscape was maxed out, voice search seemed a good avenue to find demand and additional traffic for clients. The problem concerned the difficulty of supporting our ideas with statistics in order to drive sales off the back of running the campaign. We were digging into data that were available on the advertising platforms of the various search engines, but nothing promising was being revealed.

Recently, after spending 10+ hours a day on my computer/phone resulting in chronic neck and shoulder pains, the only way to survive was to reduce the time spent on these devices. This motivated me to seek out other ways to reduce my screen-time and keyboard use…

In the past, I had been in conferences run by Google where they demonstrated the advantages of voice-search over typed-search inquiries. Drawing upon this experience, I’ve been reflecting on the scope to integrate the power of voice search and voice typing as part of broader changes in my working habits.

So, I thought it was time to dig once more into some industry articles to find out about recent advances in voice search technologies. I was positive that there would be many people like me that found voice search an appealing possibility; after all I’m a consumer and a shift in my behaviour can be representative of a shift in consumer behaviour at a larger scale…

What is voice search?

According to Wikipedia ‘’voice search is also called voice-enabled, allow[ing] the user to use a voice command to search the Internet, a website, or an app. In a broader definition, voice search includes open-domain keyword query on any information on the Internet, for example in Google Voice Search, Cortana, Siri and Amazon Echo. Voice search is often interactive, involving several rounds of interaction that allows a system to ask for clarification. Voice search is a type of dialog system.’’

Voice search demand in the market

Source: Statista 2019

The stats above show the extent to which internet users globally used voice search in the previous 12 months on various devices, broken down by age groups – the survey was conducted from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019. As expected, Mobile devices have a higher share compared to Laptops and PCs, due to the nature of voice search and its convenience while on the move.  Although the highest use goes to Any device, which I am assuming refers to things such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices.

Where do you start to incorporate voice search in your search advertising strategy?

As Jared Belsky in his Think with Google article suggests, ‘‘If you can understand how, where, and why your customers use voice, you can find natural connections between your brand and their needs.’’ Think about what Phrases consumers may use in order to find your products or brand. For example, what would be the result for voice searching something specific or non-specific about your products or services? See examples below from a voice search on a mobile device for both types of queries (i.e. specific & non-specific).

Image Credit: Google Voice Search Result

Following on from this, you need to think about how you might then utilise the voice search to enhance the user journey (See Jared Belsky’s article).

In Sara Kleinberg’s article, also published on Think with Google, she draws from a US-based survey in order to highlight those things that owners of voice-activated speakers would like to receive from brands:

  • information from brands about sales, deals and promotions – 52%
  • personalised tips and information that make their life easier – 48%
  • information about upcoming events and activities – 42%
  • options to find business information (e.g. store locations) – 39%
  • access to customer services and support – 38%

While some of us might still think there isn’t enough demand to invest resources in voice search strategy & implementation, the market trend clearly shows a growth in the area. Like anything else, the sooner brands adapt to the landscape the more likelihood of success. This early adaptation will give advertisers sufficient time to test, learn and polish their strategy and tactics.

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