Voice search, take-off in 2018?

Does 2018 sound the beginning of the voice search? This is what the great digital powers, the GAFAs, seem to think, are waging a “merciless struggle” to conquer this market.

It is now several years since voice research has penetrated the daily lives of Internet users without disrupting them. But does 2018 mark the beginning of this revolution? Are we at the dawn of the next great transition of internet research as was the shift from computers (desktop) to smartphones? This is what the great digital powers, the GAFAs, seem to think, are waging a “merciless struggle” to conquer this market.

It all starts with the voice  

This still vibrant market is first and foremost a history of technological mastery that has not always been there. One need only recall the performance of speech recognition tools ten years ago, to be captured by the effectiveness of current voice transcription technologies available to the general public. This major technological breakthrough has paved the way (or voice) for voice searching, which has gradually established itself as the most convenient alternative entry tool within predictive search tools such as Google Now, Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. In this market, the advantage comes from Google voice search. The search history, emails within Gmail and the GPS position collected by the phone at regular intervals are all elements that allow it to bring a large amount of information to the user’s knowledge, without the user even having to make a request.   Today, the paths of the GAFAs have crossed: Google first started with predictive searching to go to the wizard while Apple took the opposite path with Siri. They now find themselves on a playing field that they will have to share with an a priori unexpected player in this market: Amazon.


Smart Speakers: Assistants Connected to Attacking the Living Room

Amazon was the first to draw with its smart speaker “Amazon Echo”. The principle is simple: it is a loudspeaker that will listen to what is going on. As soon as the user uses a trigger keyword,”Alexa” for Amazon products, the speaker goes into active listening mode to deliver answers to the user. Basic functionalities include Amazon product orders, what we might call encyclopaedic features (information about personalities, geography, etc.), productivity features (task list, timer, etc.) and third-party service piloting (home automation, music streaming services, etc.).   If Amazon came first on this market, Google quickly followed with a very similar concept, materialized by its Google Home speaker. The main differences relate to the way of questioning his assistant,”OK Google”, as well as to the nature and spectrum of the responses formulated, which are quite broad because of his status as a historical player in research.  Finally, Apple has chosen a parallel path for its HomePod by taking a marketing axis focused on music and sound at a price 3 times higher than its competitors. Although the loudspeaker is functionally similar in all respects to other models, this positioning is perceived by some analysts as an assumed desire to move away from the concept of intelligent loudspeaker for which Siri would not be sufficiently muscular in the face of competition. In fact, where Google and Amazon are making a fairly assumed and massive exploitation of their users’ data, Apple has chosen to privilege the privacy of its users. Siri therefore does not play on equal terms with his competitors.

What about SEO opportunities linked to these new uses?

The increase in the supply of voice assistants combined with the future trivialization of uses must lead digital professionals to ask themselves the right questions. While some features should be considered “native” and have no special opportunities, others may be worthwhile or even strategic.

First of all, the native features (reminders, timer, alarm clock, etc.) are all elements totally under the control of the assistants and without any particular interest, at first sight, for the marketing professional. These features, however, allow GAFAs to observe the habits and customs of their users.

Second, interaction with a product or service. The voice assistants offer development tools (API, SDK, etc.) that enable digital professionals to implement voice command functions. Apple, Google and Amazon each have their own labelling programs, and the “Works with Google Assistant” or “Works with Homekit” pictograms are becoming increasingly common on high-tech product packaging. Perhaps the most telling examples are those related to home automation. Systems such as Philips Hue light bulbs or the Thermosat Netatmo, both Google Home & Siri compatible, provide oral control of room temperature and brightness. These uses, which seem very innovative today, are intended to become commonplace: it is therefore necessary to think about the use of one’s product (or service) by voice right now. Services such as Uber, Deezer have already begun to invest in this niche.

Finally, the research. That’s right! Voice assistants can also be used to perform searches. It’s gone