As you are no doubt aware, the world of search has changed dramatically over the last few years—and one of the most seismic shifts has been with the medium itself. Where search engine queries were once largely confined to desktop computers, the increased prevalence of mobile devices means that more and more searches are conducted on the go. In fact, mobile searches are more common than desktop ones, something that has key implications for marketers. One such implication is that mobile users—increasingly reluctant to type out a full search query with their thumbs—are using voice search more than ever before.
The rise of voice search is a big deal for marketers, and its significance expands to media buying, attribution, publishing, and beyond. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the ways in which voice search should shape your online strategy.
Voice Search and Media Buying
First, some considerations for media buying. A screen has space for multiple ads, but when a consumer is using voice search, there’s usually not much interest in weeding through multiple answers to the search query. The consumer only wants one answer—the answer.
So, for instance, if it’s a search query for a hybrid car, the user likely doesn’t want multiple ads for different car companies. Rather, he or she wants a succinct and practical guide to the hybrid car options currently available. And should voice search uncover that one answer, the user in question may use the “read it to me” option to hear the content played like a podcast. Not incidentally, podcast ads have become more and more popular in recent years, and studies show that they have some of the best recall among listeners.
This can present a couple of challenges for advertisers. One is that people listen or watch content slower than they read it; you can easily skim through a blog entry much more quickly than you can listen to a podcast, even a fairly brief one. And since there are only 24 hours in a day, that means overall ad impressions can drop, by simple virtue of the fact that content consumption takes a bit longer. A second hitch is that most consumers are willing to tolerate interruptive ads (e.g., commercials embedded in a podcast) less than they tolerate in-content ones, such as ads placed within a blog post, which are easier to ignore.
Publishers obviously can’t afford to make less money off each unit of consumption, which means the near future is likely to bring steeper CPMs, as well as an increased focus on “audibility” as a key performance metric.
Voice Search and Attribution
Something else for marketers to be aware of is the possible shift toward a single paid search ad for voice search—something that could dramatically alter attribution. Such a shift might mean that Google would be unable to maintain its PPC model, and indeed, there are already rumblings of Google changing to a multi-touch attribution model.
Consider that, if an advertiser owns 100 percent of the impression share for a voice search, there is huge value to that impression—and it may prove impactful on eventual purchase decisions, even if those purchases aren’t made immediately. Attribution is made that much more difficult by the need to tie together different devices that process and deliver audio requests.
Voice Search and Publication
One more note: Voice search may produce an entirely new content production division. As the default voices of Alexa and Siri start losing their appeal, more publishers are going to begin producing content specifically for voice-enabled devices. Expect new ways of drawing users into the content, without the need for visuals—different voices being just one obvious example.
Publishers may also need to rethink monetization strategies. Indeed, publishers need to make money off searches—including voice searches—which means new ways of structuring subscriptions and preparing for new ad formats. It’s also important for publishers to prepare for a world in which there are simply fewer ads.
The Future of Search
These represent just a few of the ways in which radical shifts in the way people search will impact marketing decisions at every level. As we brace for big changes within the industry, it’s more important than ever for companies to partner with proven marketing experts. We’d love to chat with you about how the enCOMPASS Agency team keeps abreast of the latest trends, including voice search. Reach out to us today to start that conversation.
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