Giving Voice to the Future of Search

May 14, 2019

The world of search and product discovery is changing rapidly, particularly among younger users. Last year, PWC published an in-depth study that found that 71% of consumers would prefer to use their voice assistant to search than actually type a query. It’s clear that marketers need to adapt their search strategies to reflect emerging user behaviors and preferences.

At the 2019 Youth Marketing Strategy conference in London, Marin Software hosted a two-hour digital marketing stream (to a packed house!) that included a panel of digital marketing experts discussing the future of search. Moderated by Marin’s marketing director, Brian Finnerty, our panel lineup included:

How will people search in the future?

Before the discussion, Marin screened a short video that shows how the younger generation (kids from ages 8 - 12) interact with devices and find products online, highlighting a definitive shift from traditional typed search terms to long tail voice and rich visual search. Not only were the kids very funny and enthusiastic about emerging technology, but also they proved to be incredibly savvy at finding what they needed online. Take a look...

Picking up on the kids’ reluctance to type anything (even on their phones), our panelists discussed how brands should plan for voice and visual outreach to build and maintain customer relationships in the future. Although voice search is still in its infancy, Richard May from Marin suggested that those advertisers who are willing to experiment now, while the technology is still new and fresh, would be ahead of the curve.

Visual search is taking over retail

The panelists then addressed the huge potential that visual search brings to retail advertisers, with new ad formats like Checkout on Instagram and shoppable ads on Google Images coming to market earlier this year.

Lara Suleiman from Google explained that visual search provides consumers with the most seamless purchase journey possible. As witnessed in the video on how kids search, it’s much easier for shoppers to one-click purchase items from a rich image than clicking a text ad to arrive on a vendor’s website, for example.

James Murray from Bing picked up this thread about facilitating a quick and painless customer journey. For example, he pointed out how people feel aggrieved if they have to enter a PIN number for smaller purchases today—with the proliferation of smart payment terminals now, the expectation is that it’s one-touch approval for those less substantial recurring purchases.

What does this all mean for your PPC strategy?

As shown in Marin’s future of search video, the next generation wants to see both high-quality images and price comparisons in their search results, often skipping directly to the shopping tab in Google or Bing. This is a telling development for PPC advertisers, who’ve traditionally optimized their campaigns around purchasing text ads in prominent positions on search engine results pages.

Consumers now expect search engines to do all the background work for them, filtering down to relevant and desired options with glossy product images and clear price comparisons. The panel agreed that brands who can re-engineer their PPC strategy around the user’s need for visual product information and dynamic pricing options will be most successful in terms of ROI and lower-funnel conversions in the future.

What did we learn?

Our Future of Search panel offered some great insight into where they think voice and visual search are heading. If one thing’s certain, it’s only a matter of time before voice and visual search are essential parts of the modern purchase journey in retail and beyond.

Brian Finnerty

Marin Software
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