Our Journey into Voice Search
Introducing Gendall Voice and our journey into voice searchThe decision to focus on voice search and voice technology was an easy one. The voice revolution has already started and we want in. Since we started Gendall, over thirty years ago, we have built our business on our core belief that communication is the key to everything we do. Be it building relationships with clients or through the work we do, it was only natural that we extend into the world of voice search. Fueling this is the new innovation arm of our business, Gendall Voice.
Voice assistants here, there and everywhereVoice assistants are already all around us. The devices we use on an everyday basis often feature their own voice assistants. Microsoft has Cortana. Amazon has Alexa. And of course, Google has Google Assistant. Which powers Google Home, the tech giants smart home device.
Most people may have expected people to embrace this technology. On their computers and smartphones, sure. But some remain surprised just how far it has come. We have also welcomed this technology into our homes, vehicles and for some even our businesses. Greg, our managing director can attest. Greg's five-year-old daughter confidently orders the car radio to skip songs, turn up the volume and to play Moana. It doesn’t, yet, but it won't be long before the technology catches up with this command.
Voice technology is rapidly catching up with our expectations of what it should be able to do. Beyond that, developers and forward-thinking brands are pushing it’s potential. This potential is what makes voice technology too powerful an opportunity to ignore. We know that brands who invest now into this potential will be those that benefit most from it in the future. Carving out a space for their brand to provide a valuable personalized experience to people. While also leaving their competitors to wonder how to catch up.
Embracing new voice technologyThere are always the usual bold statistics floating around that describe any blossoming technology. Things like…
- It is estimated that 60 million households worldwide now own at least one smart speaker or smart display device. (Strategy Analytics, 2019)
- The worldwide smart speaker market increased by 137% from Q3 2017 to Q3 2018 (Canalys, 2018)
- 8 billion voice assistants will be in use in 2023 (Juniper Research, 2019)
As is often the way, statistics can be manipulated to say pretty much whatever you want. Statistics aside, the underlying trend that can’t be ignored is voice adoption is increasing. People have embraced voice interaction. People enjoy the freedom of pulling up their favourite playlist while cooking in the kitchen. Or whipping up a to-do list without lifting a finger. Or even asking for the weather report as they throw on their shoes and head out the door. Easy and instant access to information.
Improving voice recognition accuracyPart of this adoption also has to do with the rapidly improving accuracy of voice technology from two fronts. The first, the accuracy and quality of the information. Successful voice assistants must be able to identify the user's intention and quickly provide the most relevant contextual information. Remember the phrase, content is king? It still is, but it won’t stand a chance without context by its side. As an agency that is passionate about communication, what we love is that this reaffirms that content creators must provide useful, high quality information focused on user intent. Which, (no surprising news here), is what Google has been telling brands to do in order to be successful in traditional web and mobile search results (for years!). Unlike traditional search, people expect to attain the information they need with one command and have the first result be useful. This means that the coveted ‘position zero’ will be of the utmost importance for brands and voice search.
Second, is the accuracy of voice assistants to understand what people are saying. One of the most iconic examples of when this doesn’t go well was done by BBC Scotland and the Scottish comedians Iain Connell and Robert Florence. If you haven’t seen it, you can find Burnistoun - Voice Recognition Elevator in Scotland on YouTube.
All jokes aside, tech giants like Google, Amazon and abroad Baidu of China are investing in continuing to improve the accuracy of their voice assistants and this improvement is happening very swiftly.
Competition in voice searchAs we previously mentioned, unlike traditional web or mobile search, voice assistants need to respond to commands quickly and get it right the first time. This presents a challenge to brands. In order to break through the competition in voice search, you must be able to provide the most relevant information available to people. Brands and marketers must get to know their people well, their challenges, their journeys and create content that will deliver results. The voice SEO arms race has begun. Yet, the impact that voice assistants will have on the future of search is not fully clear. This is partly why we find voice search so exciting and why we will be along for the ride.
Amazon Skills and Google ActionsIn addition to voice SEO, brands also have the opportunity to harness Alexa ‘skills’ or Google ‘actions’ as a means of connecting with people.
‘Skills’ or ‘Actions’ are similar to apps, but are instead voice activated commands that activate certain abilities that can perform varying tasks. News, weather, local hotels, even booking an Uber can be completed by a voice assistant.
Brands looking to harness the power of voice search will do so by:
- Understanding who their users are
- Determining how to provide value
- Integrating voice into their marketing strategy. (Now, or soon-ish)
- Trial and error - figuring it out before their competitors do
May it be educating, entertaining or assisting people in some way that is relevant to their business.
What next from Gendall DesignIn this series of articles, we will be sharing some of our thinking, insights and learnings that are helping us define our business direction for the next three years. As a design agency that specialises in the travel and tourism sector, we are able to draw on the knowledge of what it takes to create great visitor experience online or offline.
Our mission is to create a competitive advantage for our clients with Gendall Voice. Want to join us on our voice journey? Find out more about Gendall Voice.
We hope you enjoy our insights, musings, and ideas.
Buckle in, this is going to escalate fast.