I’m fresh from a couple of days wandering the halls of the Consumer Electronics Show, affectionately known as CES — the annual conference that descends upon Las Vegas in January and proffers the latest in technological solutions to improve every aspect of our daily lives. This is my first time attending the world’s biggest technology conference, where 4,500 companies this year are vying for the attention of 180,000 attendees, according to my Uber driver.
As I made my way through the crowds at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center and other conference venues, I tried to get a sense of the common themes defining consumer innovation as we begin a new decade.
In 2020, we can only expect the competition for the attention of Internet audiences to become even more intense. More and more businesses appear each day, all raring to get to the top of the search results.
Add to that the fact that search engines, Google in particular, will continue to make changes to their algorithms in the coming year. SEOs must be on their toes to stay on top of the latest SEO trends. Here are some of the changes, which include the further ascendance of video, voice, and mobile as well as premiums on longer content and possible openings for non-Google search engines.
On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: 7-Eleven launching mobile voice ordering, Adidas testing AR Instagram in London, Amex launching a mobile restaurant booking app, Augmented Reality wine labeling with Winerytale app, Toys R Us first in Canada to use Snapchats Portal Lens, and Factual introducing predictive & loyalty audiences.
What if e-commerce retailers could use technology to replicate the role of the in-store sales associate, providing people at home with the type of personal attention that really drives sales?
Technology vendors are working feverishly to make that a reality. Using artificial intelligence and voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Siri, online retailers are beginning to imagine a world where shoppers can ask their voice companions for recommendations on product fit or gift suggestions in specific price ranges. There may even be a time, not too far in the future, when shoppers can get personal feedback during try-ons inside their own closets, thanks to “smart” mirrors and other virtual reality technology.
For Brandify’s local search consumer survey, consumers were asked to name the tools they’ve used in the last 30 days to find information about businesses nearby. Though a vast majority of 77% named Google Maps over any other tool, there was a significant “second tier” group including Facebook at 38%, Yelp at 35%, and business websites at 32%.
The study also asked consumers about the frequency of searches, the range of businesses for which they searched, preferred devices, and the likelihood of visiting a business after searching.
Recently, a number of high-profile tech firms have been uncovered permitting human employees to access private conversations consumers believed were only processed by AI.
Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa have all been placed in the limelight, and now Facebook has also come under fire for letting human employees access sensitive personal conversations for transcription purposes.
In the case of AI assistants, private conversations are primarily harvested from consumers who own and use their devices directly. However, there is an emerging body of evidence that these technologies are also harvesting secondary persons’ conversations — completely unknown to those individuals.
Mihm to Blumenthal: Our mutual friend and Local U speaker Cindy Krum has long highlighted Google’s ambition to become the “presentation layer of the internet.”
It’s been apparent for the last four years that they want to take that one step further and become the “transaction layer of the internet,” as we’ve discussed in this space before.
A little birdie told me that you’re seeing that ambition accelerate.
It’s that factor, consumer data and Amazon’s vast store of it, that stands out most in Jason Del Rey’s reporting on Recode’s new podcast series, Land of the Giants. Specifically striking is the episode on Alexa, in which Amazon employees openly speculate about a future in which smart microwaves will hook up with Amazon’s growing healthcare ambitions to tell you when it’s time to stop making popcorn and smart countertops will join the intelligent kitchen conversation. As Del Rey notes, Amazon execs talk about this future openly, dropping tidbits about customer obsession along the way and appearing truly unperturbed by the thought that such interventions into our domestic lives may go too far or generate unintended consequences. Optimism for the quality of Amazon products and a fervent belief in the company’s benefit to consumers—without due consideration for products’ risk and would-be limits—seem to pervade the corporate culture.
The increasing popularity of smart speakers, digital assistants, and podcasts means we need to begin thinking differently about voice and marketing. That includes tailoring online content to users and how they engage with it, making voice functionality a part of the sales funnel, and creating podcasts or partnering with influencers to reach audiences in a new way. With the right approach, a creative brand could get a considerable head start in this new but quickly developing marketing landscape.
This year, we saw the rise of three elements of technology-driven outcomes that, I’d suggest, represent a triad of innovation — and those elements are agility, speed, and the product-development capabilities to allow early-adopting brands to actually access emerging marketplaces (such as audio, as we saw this year). The first two terms are interconnected, and each fuels the drive for innovative products that big-name brands are beta-testing already.
Augmented reality is making the leap from hyped technology of the future to driver of cutting-edge marketing techniques today. To document the state of the field and shine a light on those use cases, the IAB released its AR marketing playbook earlier this month.
In case you’re too busy to peruse the pdf, I’ll detail the major use cases outlined in the report.
More or less following the model of Reserve with Google, which has seamlessly integrated the process of reserving a table at a nearby restaurant into SERPs, Google is now integrating food delivery into search, Maps, and Assistant, keeping consumers on Google properties for the entire journey as they make transactions via third-party couriers.
While SMB digital marketing spend has seen a steady rise, SMBs are being more conservative about the agencies and vendors with which they partner. In the transparency era, consolidating spend with a select group of trusted agency partners that offer multiple core services is now the norm.
For agencies that cater to SMB brands, these trends have created opportunities and challenges. There is money to be had, but only organizations that differentiate themselves from the competition and can deliver clear ROI will benefit. So how can SMB agencies show their value to brands and ensure revenue growth? There are three opportunity areas, in particular, that can help.
It only takes listing correct and comprehensive information on Google, Yelp, and Bing for a brand or small business to earn 90% on location management solution Uberall’s voice search readiness test. Yet only 4% of the businesses in the company’s latest study, which examined the voice preparedness of 75,000 listings, had correct info on all three of those major directories.
Partnerships between retailers and tech platforms will provide increasingly important benefits for local discovery as voice becomes a more established search channel. In the age of voice-driven local search, consumers looking for products and services will become accustomed to having only one option surfaced (as Assistant is unlikely to rattle off five choices), which means being a consumer’s first option will be paramount for brick-and-mortars.
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.
Mike Boland: A recent and relatively understated development from Google could portend the future of augmented reality. Its previously teased “VPS” was released into the wild for a small set of users. For those unfamiliar, VPS (visual positioning service) guides users with 3D overlays on upheld smartphone screens. Sort of a cousin of AR, this type of experience could represent the sector’s eventual killer apps. Though we’ve seen the most AR success so far in gaming (Pokemon Go) and social (Snapchat AR lenses), it could be more mundane utilities like navigation that engender high-frequency use cases.
Forty-eight percent of marketers surveyed by Uberall said they trust the e-commerce giant over its competition when it comes to marketing applications of voice technology in these early days of the medium. Google Assistant had the vote of 29% of the market, with Apple’s Siri scoring a surprisingly high 17% given the widespread consensus that voice is really a two-way race at the moment.