Latest News

Voice and Beyond – the future of search

Joel Davis of Mighty Social, discusses the future of digital search

As digital marketers continue to shift from the push of promotion to the pull of attraction those with a finger on the pulse of tomorrow’s tech are already making room for truly contextual interactions with consumers, not an easy task when everyone is trying to grab their attention.

In this era of complex marketing structures, where tech is woven into the very fabric of every campaign it is worth remembering that there are two key reasons why people use digital devices: either to optimise their time (i.e., to complete tasks faster) or to ‘waste’ their time (i.e., for entertainment purposes). So the more we use tech to simplify consumers’ lives in either scenario the greater the engagement.

Take Voice technology, it’s intuitive and handsfree. The average human can speak 150 words per minute, but only type 40 words during that time. Voice conveys emotion, tone, and subtleties that text is unable to capture and it allows users a hands-free, eyes-free experience.
We may have got used to typing and using touchscreens but in effect using Voice offers a more natural way for people to do what they love to do. That is the real beauty of tech, ultimately it should simplify our lives as it melts into the background of our interactions.
Voice enables consumers to re-frame their searches, make them more granular and readily share more context around their query. So, instead of typing in ‘local garage’, for instance, a similar voice query normally goes into more detail, such as; ‘Where can I find a local garage open at weekends?’

As Voice search continues to gain traction on traditional text queries we are seeing the boundaries between social media, entertainment, communication and marketing increasingly blur.

Just think of voice ads, which, unlike their static text or image versions, will enable actual conversations (albeit limited). This approach to advertising is interactive, engaging, and highly effective for brands. It could become the epitome of personalisation, literally taking customer interactions to the one-on-one level. Ordering a Thai takeaway on a live TV sports night or finding a local garage to fix a sudden emergency may become a marketer’s dream of bringing sought after micro-moments to reality.

Of course as Voice spreads we are already looking around for the next innovative tech to take this experience further. Facebook’s new range of devices, Portal, mesh social media with Alexa’s personal assistant capabilities that can control smart home devices, run routines and load any of Alexa’s tens of thousands of Skills.

Imagine asking Alexa how to cook lasagna. We are not too far away from a time when a hologram of Nigella Lawson will pop up to walk us through the recipe.

The technology already exists to create seemingly identical, life-sized holograms and Microsoft has developed neural text-to-speech technology to create personalised voice signature.

The fact that we would need to wear one of Microsoft’s HoloLens devices to have this experience should not put us off, there is already talk of mixed reality contact lenses that may result in a seamless 3D visual to illustrate a voice search.

This scenario can be taken further into the future. UltraHaptics, developed by Bristol University’s Department of Computer Science, can pick up ultrasound waves present in the air and condense them to create a pressure difference that gives the illusion of a touchable 3D object floating in thin air.

Whilst touching a holographic object is reaching some way into the future, holographic storytelling is the perfect partner to Voice as it delivers a totally hands free holistic experience that brands can harness to ramp up engagement levels.

So, given that 62 percent of US Voice-enabled speaker owners are using them to make a purchase, adding a Voice interface option to the customer journey makes sense. It should enhance the way marketers can accurately target audiences and, as a consequence, reduce media wastage.

Certainly the rate at which new technologies are being developed is continuously increasing and new solutions are introduced almost every day. This is impacting on the way marketers deploy their campaigns, what worked five years ago is not likely to be as effective five years from now. As we write about Voice here there is no doubt some new clever tech being integrated into an innovative strategy to simplify and enhance our experiences even further.

Ultimately to be effective, all strategies must consider that a more efficient tool or solution is right around the corner and that the popularity of today’s tech and digital channels are bound to change. Being flexible, curious and agile is the only way to maximise on today’s tech for tomorrow’s benefit.