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OPLIN 4cast #546: Voice searching

Posted in 4cast

Two weeks ago, Mary Meeker presented her annual, highly anticipated internet trends report, complete with a deck of 355 slides. We have posted about the Meeker report before and will focus this time on only one of the items we found interesting: Twenty percent of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016. (A summary of the entire Meeker report can be found at Recode.) As you might expect, with a shift from typing to voice search, 70% of these queries are formatted in natural language rather than simple keywords (slide 46). And of course, increasingly popular digital assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home (“smart speakers”) can only do voice searches and expect natural language. So here’s our question: Will the day come when we will be using a smartphone or a smart speaker to do a voice search of a library catalog? We don’t have a good answer to that question.

  • Internet trends 2017 — Code Conference (Mary Meeker)  [The slide deck from Mary Meeker’s Code Conference presentation at the Terranea Resort in California on May 31.]
  • Voice search is here. Are you ready? (Practical Ecommerce | Jill Kocher)  “Part of the growing voice search use comes from the increase of in-home digital assistants like Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Google’s Home device, which have no manual interface and rely entirely on verbal requests and commands. The Echo, in particular, has been very successful as a mainstream voice-interface device. Eleven million Amazon Echo devices have been sold in the U.S., enough for 3.5 percent of homes.”
  • Alexa and Siri are changing search: 5 steps to stay on top (Marketing Tech | Andrew Lovasz)  “Given that Amazon sold out of the Echo well before Christmas, we can conclude consumers have embraced the voice-activated personal assistant. It’s likely that these products will start to permeate our workspaces, homes, vehicles, and even holiday destinations in the coming years. The significant change that voice search brings is to the results page. Asking a smartphone, ‘find tire store near me’ displays just three listings. A search engine result page on a computer lists at least ten options. For Google Home and Amazon Echo, Google and Alexa respond with just one result.”
  • “Ubiquitous and seamless”: The future of voice search (Search Engine Watch | Clark Boyd)  “Certain types of queries and searches are likely to require more than just one instant answer, as they require a visual element; for example, planning a trip, or deciding which winter coat to buy. It is imperative that businesses do not over-optimize for voice search without thinking this through, as voice search does not yet lend itself so readily to these more complex answers.”

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