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Think With Google: 5 Ways Voice Activated Assistants Are Changing Search

Almost 70 percent of queries to the Google Assistant are made in natural language as opposed to the "typical" keywords people type into a search box, writes, Google's Sara Kleinberg.

Voice activated speakers for the Connected Home are rapidly becoming mainstream consumer products — and those new devices are having an immediate impact on the way consumers search, Think With Google stats show.

For the 72 percent of smart speaker owners, using their voice activated assistants has become a daily routine, writes Sara Kleinberg, Group Marketing Manager, Ads Research and Insights at Google.

“Voice-activated speaker owners told us that talking to their virtual assistant—rather than having to type—helps them get things done quickly and efficiently,” Kleinberg notes. “And that means more multitasking.”

Here are the top reasons people turn to their voice-activated speakers, according to Google:

  • It allows them to more easily multitask.
  • It enables them to do things faster than other devices.
  • It empowers them to instantly get answers and information.
  • It makes their daily routine easier.

In terms of the specific implications for local businesses, the rise of voice-activated assistants have coincided with the increased importance of location management in SEO strategy — namely, that making sure that business location information is correct across platforms is key to ranking in Google’s “three-pack” of top mapped results, as is using optimal keywords.

Addressing the particulars of voice search is important in the same vein, especially considering that 76 percent of “near me” searches result in a business visit within a day. In fact,  we’ve previously reported that search volume for local places continues to grow — but explicitly stated “near me” requests are on the decline, since consumers now simply expect results that reflect their proximity.

But it’s the very essence of how people are searching via voice versus text that is most important for brands to recognize. And that’s a major reason that Google, which hasn’t typically had a major presence at CES, has one this year, Engadget notices, including a “skin” covering the outside of the CES monorail promoting the Google Assistant in addition to a booth in the event’s parking lot.

Just last week, Google said it had added more features—like Voice Match,  Broadcast and Hands-Free Calling— to the Google Assistant, which “now gives you the power to voice control more than 1,500 compatible smart home devices from over 225 brands,” a post by Rishi Chandra, VP, Product Management, Google Home, and Scott Huffman, VP, Engineering, Google Assistant, notes.

Source: Think With Google, CES 2018

Google Ups CES Presence

Even as Google remains the undisputed search leader, as Amazon Echo’s Alexa, followed by the forthcoming Apple HomePod smart speaker powered by Siri, the market is still up for grabs.

But not for long.

As GeoMarketing‘s Lauryn Chamberlain (who happens to be covering CES 2018 this week) reports, over two-thirds of consumers who currently own an Amazon Echo or Google Home plan to buy another device in the next six months — and 75 percent of Amazon Echo owners and 69 percent of Google Home owners will purchase the same brand again, according to new research from Strategy Analytics.

“This degree of loyalty may suggest that consumers are highly satisfied with the voice-activated devices they’ve chosen — or it could be simply a “recognition that the technical platforms are different and that switching would involve unwanted complexity,” Chamberlain writes. “But in either case, these findings indicate substantial consumer loyalty to one brand alone.”

Meanwhile as Google seeks to understand the changing shape of voice-fueled search, here are some of the stats that buttress previous studies that highlight the dramatic changes in the way consumers find places and products:

  • 62 percent of those who regularly use a voice-activated speaker say they’re likely to buy something through their device within the next month
  • 58 percent of smart speaker owners use it to manage weekly shopping lists
  • 44 percent voice assistant users order groceries or household items once a week
  • 52 percent of smart speaker owners would like to receive info about deals, sales, and brand promotions, while another 42 percent want to hear about upcoming events/activities featuring favorite brands

Time For A Conversation

As voice-activated assistant observers and execs have emphasized, the use of Natural Language Processing (NPL), is the most important aspect to fully connecting with consumers — something that has been fairly difficult to manage in typical product searches.

Almost 70 percent of queries to the Google Assistant are made in natural language as opposed to the “typical” keywords people type into a search box, says Kleinberg, adding that 53 percent of smart speaker owners say it feels “natural” speaking the device.

“Every industry can [add] value based on just having a conversation,” explained Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist for Alexa and Echo at Amazon, in a recent interview with GeoMarketing. “And while the technology that consumers are using to power nearly every aspect of their lives has indeed evolved, “it’s still almost like what’s old is new. We’re going to back to just having a conversation.”

And after decades of analyzing how word-of-mouth marketing has the greatest influence on a purchase, way beyond media and advertising channels, Google’s stat is particularly game-changing for brands: 41 percent of people who have a voice-activated speaker say “it feels just like talking to a friend or another person.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.