Talking is the new typing. Increasingly-capable smartphones, millennial behavior and artificial intelligence (AI) have tilled the soil for a voice-search future. This has mostly played out through digital assistants such as Amazon
Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.
For local commerce specifically, voice search continues to show signs of being a formidable modality for finding things. It’s inherently conducive to local search and discovery, due to immediacy and sometimes hands-free requirements
during high-intent “micro-moments.”
According to Google, 20 percent of mobile searches are voice-initiated. Speech-to-text processing and AI are also getting better by the day. Google Assistant is now at 95 percent accuracy for registering or transcribing spoken queries.
As shown in a previous Street Fight Insights white paper, Google will put lots of muscle behind voice and visual search in order to counterbalance search volume declines seen in the smartphone era. Building alternatives to typed
queries will continue to be a major initiative.
Beyond Google, several tech giants are chasing voice search and digital assistant apps. They’re motivated by different factors, each seeing voice as a way to support, grow, and protect their unique core businesses. Altogether, the
result will be accelerated voice search advancement.
But the world of voice search and AI — also known as voice assistant apps — is widely misunderstood. Generalist tech coverage has painted the picture of an opportunity that resides mostly with stationary devices like Amazon Echo.
But the real scale will happen elsewhere.
The first place is mobile, given a massive installed base, all-day use, and a more commercially expansive set of search queries when out of home. Augmented reality (AR) and in-car media are other emerging areas of local discovery that
will increasingly deliver information audibly.
But what does it all mean for local media companies, brands, and startups? Which platforms are best positioned? Which ones are the smartest choices for building voice-based local commerce apps? And what do today’s usage
patterns tell us about product design principles that will succeed?
The following pages tackle these questions and more.