Whether on a smartphone or as a loudspeaker in the living room: digital voice assistants are now an indispensable part of everyday life. Reason enough that advertising companies also want to secure their places with Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. What does this mean for marketing?

Amazon makes itself comfortable at home

Voice search is practical, fast and mobile. We can type only 38 to 40 words per minute on a mobile device, but speak at least 150 words per minute. No wonder the search using voice assistants is booming. For example, 20 percent of US citizens already regularly use digital voice assistants. According to Comscore, more than half of all search queries worldwide will be voice searches by 2020. According to Voicebot.ai, Amazons Echo with its built-in AI Alexa is ahead of the competition for smart speakers with a market share of around 70 percent. When it comes to using mobile and stationary devices in general, Google devices are market leaders. After all, its voice AI Google Assistant is included in smartphones as well as the smart speaker Google Home. But what does this development mean for marketers? If users search by voice, you can no longer reach them with the usual digital advertising forms. After all, the display is not necessarily next to the loudspeaker. The same applies to searchability on the web. While it was previously necessary to secure one of the top five places in Google’s search results, here too the voice assistants are mixing up the market structure.

SEO in the age of voice search

The fact that market leader Google has transformed its results into  information-heavy response pages in recent years also has to do with voice search. An example of this is the knowledge graph. The Google page element briefly summarises the most important company information such as directions and opening hours. So if you’re looking for basic information, you can already get it from Google and don’t even have to click on the company’s website. This is problematic for companies that primarily use their website for branding purposes.

Those who maintain website content should therefore always remember to keep these bits of information, the so-called structured data, up to date for Google. Google also gives selected publishers the opportunity to mark parts of their text as relevant, i.e. “speakable”, for search engines. Advertisers should keep in mind that voice searches are structured differently. After all, those who search using their voice have a classic digital search pattern and primarily ask for information, multimedia control and navigation. As a rule, voice searches are formulated as explicit questions (who, how, what, when, where). After all, the user does not expect five possible answers, but only one. It is still unclear how companies will succeed in becoming number 1 here. It is also not clear whether they can hoist themselves to the top of the results list by placing an ad.

 Possible applications for companies

 How advertising content can be integrated into this new world is therefore an unsolved problem. The most promising thing today seems to be to add features to the voice assistants – similar to an app. So-called “skills” can be developed for Alexa, “actions” for Google Assistant. Apple’s Siri offers individual “shortcuts” starting with iOS 12. In these cases it is a matter of adding features or making them more easily accessible by voice to retrieve and output information. This includes call and support centers as well as services such as ordering meals or handling business transactions. What do companies gain from these new opportunities in concrete terms?

Here are some examples
  • Reputation management: Those currently developing an offer for Alexa and other voice assistants is certainly among the first movers. This can have a positive effect on the positioning of the company.
  • Voice commerce: Simple services such as ordering a pizza, calling a taxi or other delivery services can be implemented relatively easily using digital voice assistants.
  • Content marketing or distribution: Voice assistants can be easily integrated into content marketing. For example, they can read RSS feeds aloud or play complete podcasts.
  • Point of Sale (POS): In stores, voice assistants can answer questions about the current collection and suppliers, or help with product searches.
  • Advertising: Amazons Alexa, for example, still only makes advertising possible to a limited extent. The company has strict standards in this regard. Here it is important to see where the development is heading.
Be heard

We are still at the beginning of a whole new way of navigating through the Internet. At some point, the typed question and answer game could become an actual dialogue that even includes nuances, subtexts and above all context. The further the development of AI (on which voice assistants are ultimately based) progresses, the faster and better voice search will become. Marketing managers should therefore respond in time and keep an eye on the requirements of the platforms and equipment manufacturers and create their own concepts.