Once a futuristic Hollywood trope created to astound Comic Con enthusiasts, artificially intelligent assistants have transitioned from being sci-fi smoke and mirrors to real devices that are as everyday as fancy smoothie blenders.
Voice-enabled search has been making waves since Apple first introduced us to Siri — a clever virtual assistant that would snarkily answer your silly “Siri, talk dirty to me” request with “the carpet needs vacuuming.”
And with the introduction of of in-home, voice-enabled assistant devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s aptly named Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, marketers have been speculating about how this new era of tech will impact advertising and search optimization.
TOOLS TO CONQUER THE SHIFTING BATTLEGROUND
Voice-enabled assistants take the battle for search rankings from computer screens and handheld devices to living rooms and kitchen tables. Unfortunately, this convenience for consumers comes at a cost for marketers in the form of truncated search results — limiting the once prime real estate of Google’s results page to a mere three results. Because, realistically, who has the patience to hear Alexa babble on for longer than three results?
One of the key differences that advertisers will need to adjust to is the switch from a focus on short-tail keywords to long-tail, conversational sounding keywords. When people speak to their assistants they speak in full sentences, so they’re more likely to say something like “What’s the closest sushi place near me” as opposed to typing “sushi near me” into their search bar.
Consumers will also be talking to their virtual assistant like they would talk to someone real in the room with them. For example, customers might phrase their requests like “Ok Google, order me a tuna roll from — umm — what’s that one place on Washington and Orange?”
Businesses will have to anticipate the abrupt pauses and questions that are inevitable in every day human dialogue. If your business’ content and online listings are well adapted to voice search, your sushi restaurant will hopefully be one of the top local searches to be spoken back to the consumer.
THE REALITIES OF A VOICE-ACTIVATED FUTURE
Currently, voice-enabled assistants are primarily used for performing simple tasks like playing music or setting reminders versus actually searching the web. This is mostly due to the fact that as of now you have to preemptively download certain skills for the smart devices to perform tasks like ordering food or telling you the recipe for a soup. But as these machine-learning devices become smarter, they will inevitably become capable of performing more complicated tasks on their own.
So whether you think the future of voice search will resemble the movie Her, or something more sinister like iRobot, you can bet that voice technology is going to change your business’s advertising strategy faster than you can say “Siri, play Toxic by Britney Spears.”