Could Siri Make Hyperlocal Hypervocal?

Share this:

I have a confession to make. My vision is not bad, but it’s not great. I wear glasses. And I hate smart phone displays. The reality is, they are hard to read under so many conditions. I am fairly certain I am not alone in this situation. What’s more, I’m also fairly certain that Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs — both bespectacled — shared my opinion to some degree. Both of these tech titans moved aggressively to incorporate voice recognition into smart phones. The first salvo was Google’s amazing turn-by-turn GPS capabilities in the Android platform. Now comes Siri, the amazing voice recognition application on iPhone 4Gs. I had tried it before on earlier versions and was unimpressed. That was then.

The current version, as so many reviewers have echoed, is really wonderful stuff. And so, in my mind, I am wondering — is this the Siri that makes hyperlocal hypervocal? I think so. The various components are falling into place. Take Foursquare’s Sonar. It will allow users to subscribe to lists or information streams and to notify them when they are close to a point of interest.

As people move more towards an environment of hypervocal navigation, local deals will actually become far more powerful.

For example, a pizza lover who subscribed to New York Magazine’s list of best NYC pizza joints would get a little notification every time he came in close proximity to pizza purveyors on that list. In text format, this is pretty good. In audible format, this is incredibly good. Your phone — when you want it to — becomes your tour guide, feeding you useful information as you navigate the local landscape. And you can tell your phone what you are interested in that day. Want bagels and then to find a bookstore? Easy. Want to take your kids out for ice cream after the ball game? A simple request.

So what does this do to the concept of local deals? As people move more towards an environment of hypervocal navigation and data immersion in the audible realm, local deals will actually become far more powerful.

Just look at the experience of Pandora. The free streaming radio company presents many interesting parallels to a Sirified hypervocal existence: It has a dedicated audience who has selected to listen and who also selected what music they want. More importantly, the audible realm in my mind is a better communications medium for brain processing than the symbolic realm — which is the domain of text-based or even much video advertising. Only the very best ads cross over into true pattern recognition where our minds shine. Sounds, however, are something we are far better wired for than words. Which is why Pandora has done extremely well with its advertising response rates as compared to other forms of online media.

So imagine if Pandora could not just tell you cool things to do but also tell you about related deals? Ice cream for the kids after the ball game? Great and how about that pizza pie at a discount for purchases greater than $40. Pandora already has a combined response rate that is higher than the industry average for online spots (its pretty hard to track response rates for traditional audio ads). What if those ads were perfectly targeted with information you had already subscribed to and synched with what you might be doing? I would venture that response rates would go through the roof. And so, in a Sirified local world, mobile ads on handsets could indeed become the ginormous gold mine that people have long supposed the mobile market would comprise. Already Groupon is building offer businesses based on real-time deals. Add in the hypervocal component and it could mean that Groupon and its ilk get an even better response. Which would be a powerful driver for the still nascent hyperlocal ad segment.

Alex Salkever’s Personal Fight column appears every Friday on Street Fight.