The Sound of Search

By David Brownless (Search Account Executive)

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Since the advent of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant, voice search technology has developed at a rapid pace. In May 2017, Mary Meeker claimed that Google’s speech recognition technology was able to understand humans with 95% accuracy—a rate almost akin to human comprehension. Ongoing improvements to speech recognition technology have been matched by its increasingly widespread adoption: 65% of global smartphone users now use voice search, with 1 in 5 adults having used voice search in the past month. At this stage, it is predicted that half of all searches will be voice-based by 2020.

Voice search allows customers to have more personalized, human-like interactions with technology, whether they need directions or a more detailed explanation of what is showing on TV that night. Research shows that voice search tend to be “longer tail” and more emotive than its analogue counterpart. For example, while users may type “chicken pasta recipe” into a traditional text search, the same search via voice could involve the user asking, “What’s a cheap dinner recipe for eight people?” We also know that voice searches are three times more likely to be location-based than text searches – for example, “Where can I test drive a car in Newmarket?”

At present, we estimate that less than 5% of searches across our SEM accounts are voice-based. However, we expect this to rise as New Zealand usage catches up to technology-forward countries such as the US. Key personal assistant tools like Amazon Echo, Apple’s Home Pod and Google Home are yet to be released in New Zealand, but the introduction of these technologies—and the rise of voice search they will undoubtedly engender—will require SEM strategy to adapt accordingly. Personalising copy and analysing search data will allow us to easily adapt to these changes across both SEM and SEO.

One of the core methods FCB has begun anticipating the rise of voice search is through the inclusion of more dynamic keyword insertions (DKI) in our SEM strategy. DKI enables ad copy to dynamically update to reflect a customer’s specific search terms. This feature is particularly useful for voice search as it enables us to anticipate countless variations of a customer’s voice search query, and provide accurate answers without having to manually create hundreds of personalised ads. What’s more, DKI ads typically also achieve increased CTR because each ad matches exactly what the customer is searching, resulting in improved search accuracy, increased effectiveness and better outcomes for brands.

Date: February 28, 2018