What The ‘Voice-First Revolution’ Means For Marketers

With over 24 million units set to ship in 2017 alone, voice-first devices are no longer a novelty — they're a way of life.

In 2017, there will be an estimated 33 million voice-first devices in circulation, according to VoiceLabs 2017 Voice Report — and the continued proliferation of these devices means big changes for marketers as consumer increasingly rely on voice search to find places and products.

Google Home and Amazon Echo have driven significant growth in the market, and marketers stressed the impact of the technology at this year’s CES; in-home assistants are set to help power just about every aspect of consumers’ lives. And as the two companies (and their competitors) specialize, consumers’ options will improve — as will the number of connected devices they own and that marketers will want to use to reach them.

“AI Assistants have started to specialize, and this will become more pronounced in 2017,” the report states. “[We expect that] Google is going to excel at mining the web and providing intelligent responses to general knowledge questions. Amazon is going to excel at commerce, [and] Google and Microsoft should excel at email, contacts and calendar.”

Other projections from the report include:

  • Google and Amazon are going to battle for hands-free TV and home automation.
  • Apple is betting on AirPods for on-the-go use cases, and should have an Apple TV voice strategy.
  • All players will battle to become the go to controller of the kitchen, living room and bedroom.

The Rise Of Intelligent Search

For every online purchase resulting from a search, Google sees multi-channel retailers receive an additional 400 in-store visits — a statistic that reinforces how crucial search is to brick-and-mortar businesses.

But search has changed since the (relatively recent) days in which a query would result in a list of webpages. Today, “search is intelligent — and when you search for things, you get direct, structured answers,” explained Howard Lerman, CEO at Yext (full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More details on that relationship here), at last month’s Retail Week Live.

Voice search is one significant driver of this change. And as voice-first devices proliferate, brands and marketers of all stripes will have to ensure that they are discoverable in the voice search answers that these “smart” assistants are providing.

Put simply, the age of intelligent search is here, and the era of the smart home is coming, meaning marketers must ask themselves: What devices do my consumers prefer — and for what purposes? Will they buy things from Alexa? Search for answers on Echo? Elsewhere?

“Businesses today need to push their information to all of these digital services,” Lerman concluded. “It’s not enough to just put it on the web.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.