Google back in 2013. I’ve got another great quote from Google on Voice Search, which is: “Captain Kirk never pulled out the keyboard to ask a question.” Voice Search is here, and is here to stay.
Google aren’t the only major industry player to be trialling Voice Search, you’ve got the likes of Amazon, and Microsoft, and Apple all in the space, the biggest tech giants in the known universe. I’ll give you some stats on this. According to DigiTimes 10 million Echo speakers from Amazon, they’re going to be shipped in 2017, and that’s in no small part due to a 50% reduction in the price of the Amazon Echo Dot, making these much more accessible than they were before. Furthermore, at its Build 2017 conference, Microsoft announced that HP and Intel were building Cortana powered Connected Home Smart speakers. That’s in addition to the 400 million Windows 10 laptops and PC’s which have got Cortana baked in straight out of the box. And, of course, Apple will have, in time for Christmas, HomePod, their go at a smart speaker. Launching in December 2017, you’re going to have hands-free access to Siri, to Apple music, to the Apple ecosystem, and indeed your smart home accessories.
Hopefully, that’s wet your whistle. Let’s have a natter and answer some of the most common questions about voice search.
What is voice search?
Firstly, what is voice search? Quite simply, it’s searching the web by speaking aloud to a compatible device. Most modern smartphones will have some kind of voice search probably baked in or available via an App.
Android has OK Google built in straight out the box, you’ve got Windows Mobile which has Cortana, you’ve got Apple which has Siri and, of course, you can install the Google App and then you get access to the search engine with voice search.
What’s more? If you tether these up to your proprietary data, so your flight info that you might have in your emails, in your inbox, or appointment info that you have in your calendar, you get an even more enhanced experience, these are virtual assistants which will help you with your lives.
And now you have smart speakers, like Amazon Echo, like HomePod, like these new technologies coming along from HP and Intel using Cortana, if you like Google Home of course. Smart speakers are at the heart of the home.
How many people are using voice search?
How many people are using voice search? How many people are you talking to? Well, I’ve got some 2017 data from Business Insider saying that 35.6 million U.S. citizens will be using smart speakers at least once per month. I suspect that’s more than one user per device. In terms of device split, at the moment, you’re looking about 71% using Amazon Echo, about 24% using Google Home. I expect that to shift over time, obviously Amazon were first in market on this, Google are going to lift off because I think they have a better product.
They don’t give as much data Google. Our Paid Media team will know only too well that they can be quite elusive. But in 2014, they did give us some stats about voice search, so they’re a little bit old. We know that, at that point in time, 55% of teenagers were using voice search every single day, and indeed 41% of adults were using it daily. Couple of years later, they updated that to show the growth of voice search, whereby 20% of mobile searches were conducted by voice not by typing. By 2020, analysts are predicting that 30 to 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice, they’ll be spoken aloud rather than typed.
Indeed, I think the speeds that this is growing at has actually slightly caught Google on the hop. So here is a screenshot of a tweet by the marketer John Lincoln, who spotted ‘OK Google’, the trigger word for voice search on Android and in the Google App, amongst the suggested bids in the AdWords Keyword Planner, you can see it’s growing so quickly even Google are getting slightly caught out by this.
How do voice queries differ from traditional keywords?
How to voice queries differ from traditional keywords? Firstly, they are more likely to be questions and to use a more natural form of language. Once upon a time you had to think about what you wanted to ask and modify it slightly to fit within a search field. You might have asked for: ‘Australian travel guide’, ‘Australian holiday guide’. But now you can straight up ask: ‘Do I need a travel visa to visit Australia?’ It’s much more conversational.
Furthermore, because this is generally conducted on portable devices, so mobile phones, it increases the likelihood of a local intent, you’re more likely to be out and about and to ask something like: ‘restaurants near me’. And again, you can see how inferred aspects of the search are more important than before, so location, your previous searches, near me, even just aspects like information it might have picked up from an email, this is all going to influence the results you get because they’re much more personal than before.
Furthermore, users with voice search are generally seeking ‘the’ answer not ‘an’ answer. When you have a screen in front of you, you’re happy to pass through the information provided to find the most relevant stuff for you. If you’re dealing with voice search you might well be doing this while preoccupied, it might be your mobile phone that’s attached your hands-free kit in your car, it might be a voice search speaker in your kitchen, and so you just want ‘an’ answer, and you just want the right answer read aloud.
Why is voice search growing?
Why is it growing as quickly as it is? Well I’ve kind of touched upon it there, you can search in many new situations than you could before, you can search while you’re preoccupied by driving or cooking, you don’t need to be looking at the screen.
Information can be pushed to you not just pulled. I was thinking earlier today about the early days of email, where, I mean if you wanted to, you could log into AOL, and you got that: ‘You got mail message’, and it told you that while you’ve been away a message had come through. Nowadays, we expect our phones to just tell us when we have a new email, and then we go: ‘Oh, great! There’s a new email there, I will go and look at it.’ Information is pushed to you when it’s relevant, not necessarily needing to be pulled in by you.
Voice search is facilitating the same thing, if a Google Home speaker recognises that you need to know traffic information there and then or you are going to be late for an appointment, it tells you that, it doesn’t wait for you to ask. It’s, therefore, deeply personalised and because of the style of presentation it’s inherently natural, it’s much more natural than a search field.
Finally, as I guess I tend to prove once a month during our meetings, speaking aloud is much faster than typing or texting. To give you some stats on this, a typical audiobook, you’re looking at about 150 to 160 words per minute of information being conveyed. In this presentation, I’m going to try to speak a little more slowly, so maybe 120 words per minute being conveyed. Even the fastest professional typist is unlikely to go much above say 80 words a minute. Interestingly enough, Google actually trialled this, so I think Google at a recent conference, they put the world record fastest rapper up against the world record fastest texter. Let’s see how they go along.