Alexa, how will marketers use voice search in the future?  

Voice-assisted devices, powered by artificial intelligence, are gaining a strong foothold in households across the U.S.

According to eMarketer, there are 45 million devices in use now, and that number will rise to 67 million by 2019. Google Home and Amazon Echo (famous for it’s AI personality, Alexa) are the two main players among smart speakers; Amazon Echo owns approximately 70% of the market.

“Our vision is that customers will be able to access Alexa whenever and wherever they want,” Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa, told Adweek. “That means customers may be able to talk to their cars, refrigerators, thermostats, lamps and all kinds of devices in and outside their homes.”

Voice search is changing how consumers seek information and make purchases. They’re designing a personalized user experience that answers their questions, adapts to their location, manages their tasks and curates their music playlists. This shift opens up a new landscape for search marketing. Paid voice search is on the horizon, and while it’s still not clear how it will work, brands need to be ready for it.

ComScore estimates that 50% of all searches will be through voice technology by 2020. Some marketers speculate that organic voice search will soon give way to ad auctions, with brands bidding to snag the top search result slots.

According to the digital marketing agency 360i, smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo Dot (the smaller version of the standard Echo), still leave many customer queries unanswered.

In an initial round of testing, asking the devices thousands of travel-related questions, the 360i team found that Google answered 72% of questions, while Amazon answered 13%. The agency argues that this gap provides brands with an opportunity to create targeted digital content geared toward answering underserved voice search queries.

BrightEdge, an SEO and content marketing platform, also outlined the need for marketers to be early adopters in this space. BrightEdge surveyed 252 digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands about how they’re preparing for the growth in adoption of AI, voice search and local search over the next year. The survey found that while many marketers recognize that these are important priorities, most don’t have immediate plans to incorporate them into their marketing strategies:

  • 66% of respondents don’t have plans to prepare for voice search
  • 31% believe voice search is the next big thing
  • 32% believe AI is the next big thing, but 57% aren’t likely to implement any AI elements this year

“Marketers looking to prepare to merge into an AI–first world are going to need to begin by making sure they have the same consistent message across devices, at the very least,” said Michel Kant, SEO Manager of Staples Europe.  “If you don’t have that in the near future, it will be like not having a mobile optimized website or good content marketing strategy now.”






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