Before we start immersing ourselves in virtual worlds for hours each day through AR or VR, consumers will be doing something else. As retro as it may sound, voice communication through devices will increasingly impact our lives.
The reason is simple. Audio and voice - in other words listening and speaking - comes natural to us and allows us to multitask while consuming information since it's "eyes-free."
Video is great because it's immersive, but its drawback is also that it is just that. This is why second-screening (using a device with a screen while "watching" TV) has grown 5.1% in the last year alone - people are avoiding letting a single thing consume all their attention for extended periods of time.
There are indications pointing to the growing importance of voice. Podcasting grew 11% from 2016 to mid-2017 in the US, more than 20% of Google searches on Android is already done by voice, and Google, Amazon, and others are competing to dominate the voice market with their digital home assistants.
What does audio and voice mean for businesses?
The simple answer is that the increase in audio and voice means that there will be another main channel for consumers to get seek and obtain information.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Consumers will have fewer search results with voice
When someone searches or asks a question, a single answer - aka search result - will be given. With SEO and SEM, we try to get onto the first page of a search results list. With voice, there's a need to figure out how to be the top answer for that person.
"Ok Google, what's a good coffee shop near here?" "Hey Google, what's a good site to research hotels in Tokyo on?" "Ok Google, where should I cut my hair at?"
The chances that someone will know about the second result decreases significantly with voice.
Voice will lead to many products further being commoditized
Consumers aren't shopping for commodities like they used to, just look at the rise of subscription boxes like Dollar Shave Club. Amazon already did Dash buttons - buttons that let you re-order products with a press of a button - and voice will further that efficiency for consumers along.
"Alexa, buy me soap." "Hey Alexa, order me some green tea."
What brands will Alexa order? Businesses need to build their brand with their target customers now so that they become what gets suggested, ordered and re-ordered.
Localized, natural grammar is more important than ever
Readers can scan or re-read text content until it makes sense. Audio results, however, will need to be short, concise and sound natural in order for people to understand it. Google has officially said these points will be evaluated, amongst others.
Awareness and consumer acquisition may come from a podcast
Just like a video series can be where consumers come across a new product or brand, podcasts are the same. Whether its through an influencer's channel or through a brand's (Many do them: Shopify, Slack, GE) this new-age drive-time radio is just another point of contact where people and brands connect.
Imagine a consumer who hears about a product on a podcast on the way to work and decides then to try it out. "Hey Alexa, buy _____." Far more seamless and efficient - which is what customers want more now - than the typical of opening up a browser.
While there is no need for every company to strategize in order to dominate the audio and voice market, it is a trend to pay close attention to as it is another place that competitors have a chance to reach your target instead of you.
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