Voice is Rising as Medium for Local Discovery

Voice is not only booming as a search tool but also seems to be cannibalizing search volume from the medium that last revolutionized the practice of digital discovery: mobile. That’s the headline from Stone Temple Consulting’s third annual survey of consumers regarding their use of voice-enabled devices.

In 2018, over 40% of respondents surveyed by Stone Temple indicated that a mobile browser was their first choice for search, with voice search garnering less than 20% of the vote and falling behind “phone’s search window” as well. In 2019, mobile browser sunk to just above 30% as respondents’ first choice, while voice rose to nearly 30%. There’s no reason to believe that rapid change won’t continue in the same direction, even if the pace lags, as 2019 continues and heads into 2020.

The other big story out of the survey is that people seem to be becoming much more comfortable using voice in public. It may still seem unusual or inconvenient to have a neighbor in the coffee shop dictating texts to his iPhone, but Stone Temple’s numbers indicate that process is increasingly less taboo. The report showed substantial increases in the percentage of people comfortable using voice commands at restaurants with friends, in the office with coworkers, and even in public restrooms.

Online search placed six among potential use cases for voice. Respondents more often use the medium to text and call, get directions, play music, and set reminders. But that’s not necessarily bad news for advertisers, who are accumulating more options to reach consumers through those media, slapping ads into channels like Facebook Messenger, Spotify, and mapping platforms.

Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s managing editor.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015 and has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016.

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