Editor’s Note: Prashant Nandan (Senior Director - Digital Trading & Buying at Dentsu Aegis Network) writes about the paradigm shift happening in search. The article has been cross posted from LinkedIn Pulse. Views expressed in the article are the writer’s personal views and not of his organization, its clients or Lighthouse Insights.
Gateway to online world was search but now it’s no more set of disconnected, connected or misspelled keywords, it already evolved to become conversation.
There is a paradigm shift happening on how we are searching.
Voice search: Future of internet will be hands-free & voice stimulated and it will open up a door to rise of digital assistant with players like Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Ok Google. As more consumers submit their queries with digital assistant, it becomes increasingly important to be the first result. Voice searches return only the top result - which means if you aren’t it, it doesn’t matter if you’re the second result, consumer won’t hear about you.
Voice search and voice commands on mobile are becoming increasingly common as people use digital assistants to perform search queries and carry out tasks. Except “Ok Google” voice search assistant, no other assistant is dependent on Google and not necessarily will drive search queries to Google. This will put a lot of control outside Google ecosystem and engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo will rise.
“Ads” on voice search is around the corner but if the only answer to any query is an “ad” why will someone trust on it and on top of it user will look for digital assistant to be faster and have no tolerance to listen through an “ad” just to get an answer to his or her queries.
Hashtag (#) search queries will increase: You can search a hashtag and enter into a world of information and conversations around any topic. More and more social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest have jumped on the hashtag bandwagon and this will only go higher up. A simple click or search for a hashtag on any social platform will display those using that hashtag in conversation, instantly identifying an audience with common interests. The potential for using the hashtag is limitless and can be leveraged across platforms, or uniquely on each social platform.
Facebook Search is now a powerful search engine used by billion people daily. One important thing to notice here is that all these hashtag search activities are happening in social walled garden which is again beyond Google reach. If you look closely you will notice that most of the social platforms want to retain user at their platform only and hence the rise of videos and instant articles are on rise.
Mobile Search Vs APP 2.0: Users are going to use app to discover information instead of searching on browser. As per a report, average person with a smartphone is using it to search the web, from a browser, only 1.25 times per day. This means they are highly engaged in social media, playing games and using more and more apps. Apps are now moving into a direction from messaging apps to payment gateway to receiving news-feed and so on.
In China WeChat is turning its app into a virtual workplace. More than 80 percent of people have handled office work on WeChat, from transferring files and coordinating tasks to taking video calls and making transactions. There is no doubt that users are very selective for apps and browsers are here to stay and grow. Most of the publishers get traffic from mobile browsers because their content are seeded on different platform. Search on mobile browser is going to go down but still brands and publishers need to be mobile first as majority of traffic will come from it.
Predictive search: Sergey Brin vision when he started Google years ago was that eventually you wouldn’t have to have a search query at all, and his vision has come true with predictive search way back in 2004 with a product called “Google suggest”. A monster called AI would need to be able to figure out what information you need without you needing to ask for it and how do they do it, simple peek-a-boo at our digital footprints which we leave behind while accessing internet on desktop or mobile.
Other big players like Apple with products like Spotlight & Grokr and Amazon with Amazon Search are getting into predictive search. Evolution of predictive search are products like Google card and price drop shopping cards from Google. Facebook has also jumped into bandwagon of predictive search with launch of “M” which is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf.
Commerce search & advertising: Alibaba is the single largest mobile advertising revenue generator in China, ahead of Baidu, the local search giant and even Google believes that real competition are players like Amazon Search. Similar to Google, Amazon search is now available as cloud based service for other websites. Commerce websites are places where you go to buy products and if you are searching on Alibaba and Amazon chances of conversion are higher than any other search engines. Digital agencies have already started suggesting to client, Amazon search as part of the search engine marketing.
Facebook and other social media platforms are already supporting commerce advertising and search by introducing buy buttons and payment messaging on social platforms. These advanced capabilities will bring a more integrated social experience and buying process, as consumers will be able to purchase, share with friends and post social proof of their purchases, all in one place.
Local search: The emphasis on local search will only grow & Google is much ahead of all its competition when it comes to local searches. Amazon uses Yelp for its local listings while Google heavily prioritizes its own local results. Local search leads to more focused traffic and considerably higher conversion. Users who search locally want solutions that will nearly solve their specific problems, and if you can get their attention and give them what they are searching for, they will be very happy to take advantage of what you are offering.
Just to summarize: for our generation all the above things may look like future innovation but for upcoming generation, it will be a way of living. Voice & touch screen will become leading interfaces for computers & smartphones.