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Episode Info: This blog will also be the first full episode of the new on.click podcast and, while it covers some ground we’ve been over before, it’s with the benefit of more water under the bridge and lessons learned Digital assistants have been permeating western culture now for some time, with episodes of various sitcoms featuring storylines driven by Siri or the Google Assistant or Alexa, there are sites devoted to their mishaps and endless articles on the pros and cons of interaction with them (including one from the Guardian today which covers all the bases from their limited usefulness to the part they will play in the coming artificial intelligence (AI) led annihilation of humankind). Within the search marketing industry, there are a number of ‘future of search’ articles which are driven by voice search (I know, I’ve written a few), but they tend to be fairly woolly, predictive and lacking in real detail. The reason is that, despite the fact that voice search has been on the horizon and a predicted game changer for some time; it has nevertheless caught a lot of people by surprise – with almost 42% of respondents to a survey (sent to a 300,000 strong segment of Click Consult’s email database) reporting that digital assistants represented the biggest potential game changer for search in 2018.   Screen shot showing the results from Click Consult’s 2018 survey   The reason for this is that the technology, usefulness and uptake has progressed far faster than the majority of marketers and techies alike would have expected. It took mobile (depending on where you draw the line of true mobile search) around twenty years to achieve parity with desktop for searches made, while voice has achieved 20% of all searches since early versions of Siri (the earliest you can reasonably place the inception of voice search) in 7 years. With rates of voice search among Millennials (roughly those born between 1982 and 2004) and Generation-Z (born 2004 onward) already being estimated in the high 40%s, it is easy to understand why ComScore is predicting that 50% of all searches will be by voice – therefore performing a similar feat to mobile in half the time. While I still cringe, say please and thank you during voice searches (occasionally unthinkingly apologising if the software can’t understand me), my children have been asking Google questions since they could talk. This potential halving of the time it will take to reach parity also halves the time that brands, from small businesses right up to Google itself, will have to respond to the change. As voice is predominately built upon the advances of mobile technology, it is also capable of accelerating far quicker. WAP, for example, debuted in 1999 – and it took me what felt like a full 90 minutes to check the football scores – and it took until 2007 and the introduction of some larger, touch screen devices to begin making real progress. Even so, it took another 8 years for Google to introduce its fir...
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