Alexa, Google Home, and other voice activated devices are expected to make up over 50% of all search queries by the end of 2020, and will an expected trend line like that it well worth thinking about what that means for advertisers and users. First of all, this change has been a long time coming. Ever since it became possible to use your voice to search via mobile phone more and more users have been choosing the convenience of it versus using a small keyboard to type something in. Google anticipated this trend, and have been actively working to develop something usable around this akin to the computer you might see in the popular TV show Star Trek.
How This Works
That's all good and well for users, but from an advertiser's perspective this creates a problem. If people are no longer using a keyboard interface to search for something and see a result on the screen then we can't expect our SEM or SEO campaigns to operate in the same way, or see the same results. This could lead to a decreasing impressions, lower traffic to a website, and as a result less business for a given company.
That said, we can take some solace in the fact Google already have many new advertising solutions in the pipeline to help with this problem, but what would these look like? While we can say for certain what's in the at Google, we can take an educated guess that it will look something like the conversation sample below from MyPetDoc; a popular app available for Amazon's Alexa devices.
User: "Alexa, my dog is itching, what should I do?"
Alexa: "Ok, there are many reasons why this may be the case, lets check the symptoms. Have you seen any fleas on here?"
User: "Yes I have"
Alexa: "Ok, there are various topical flea remedies available to treat your dog, most last 30 days, but one last for longer. Would you like to hear about it?"
User: "Yeah that sounds great!"
Alexa: " Product A from Advertisers A last for 90 days and is available..."
As you can see, the ad is inserted seemlessly into the response the device gave, offering a new way to drive a response, but also serving up a measurable impressions as the mention of Product A upon request can be viewed in those terms.
What It Means
So what does this mean for us? In a nutshell, we will continue to need to adapt quickly to changing trends in how users interact with the digital space, and be aware that while some platforms like Facebook or Instagram require a visual interface to interact with and remain engaging, search engines do not. Vocal search is the natural evolution of a search engine, and as result, the challenge of adapting to falls on the shoulders of marketers to lead the way forward and drive our teams to develop sites and creative that match with the needs of this changing world.