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Voice search platforms hold a lot of potential for local advertising, say experts

With a continuous rise in voice search and the number of voice devices in India, how are brands preparing themselves to exploit this opportunity? BestMediaInfo analyses

Google is getting 28% of total searches through voice queries. And with more Indians joining the digital bandwagon, voice queries may even surpass type searches in a few years’ time.

The world is slowly moving away from understanding a user with their clicks towards having a conversation with them on voice mediums. The media horizon is changing and brands have a huge unexplored opportunity to get intimate with their TG by solving their queries in their language.

According to Sapna Chadha, Head of Marketing, India and SEA, Google, out of the 400 million plus internet users who are online today, majority are Indian language users. And every new person coming online now is a language user. By 2021, there will be over 500 million Indian language users online. Also, over 28% of search queries on Google app are voice queries and these are growing rapidly across languages.

Apart from devices such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, other voice search devices are also making their foray into the market like Jusbol, a device launched by Soundlogic.

Karan Kumar, Head of Brand and Marketing, FabIndia, believes that voice search will eventually be the dominant medium. It will change the entire demographic of our country as it breaks the barriers of language.

Karan Kumar

“Ten years from now, there will be nothing but voice search; that’s the way in which globally the technology is flowing. With the introduction of these small devices at home, you have no idea how it will impact us as we move forward. Can you imagine the change that it will bring in demographics? People who can’t type can ask their query in local languages. However, it is still evolving as an advertising medium because I don’t think that brands recognise the opportunity and how to deal with this new technology. It requires some more thought,” said Kumar.

According to Sumanta Ganguly, National Director, Digital, PointNine Lintas, 50% of the searches will be voice-based globally and a huge percentage of this number will be from India. Since most Indians prefer searching in their local language and about local places, the local marketers will be the early adopters of this medium.

“The classic use case for voice search will be about what can I get here and now, around me? Therefore, local establishments will benefit a lot from voice search. Google Maps and navigation are driven by voice. So, local establishments definitely need to be on voice search. For other brands to enter this domain and to be discovered, they will have to provide some sort of service to enter this users’ world. Brands will have to start having some kind of conversation with their consumers. Right now, we think in terms of clicks, tomorrow it will be in terms of conversation. The brands who have some service to offer will possibly be leading the way. It moves from ‘me’ to ‘Hey there! How can I help you?’ It will move from ‘click’ to ‘tell me more’.”

With the increasing popularity of voice search devices and people considering them as their personal advisers, are Indian brands ready to leverage voice search for advertising?

Google is already seeing brands on their voice search and Maruti is among the early adopters.

“With improved connectivity and low cost of data and smart phones, we're seeing a huge growth in first-time internet users across India. And voice is becoming an increasingly popular way for these users to find things online. On the assistant side of things, the ecosystem is evolving really fast and many brands have already started to offer interesting use cases for actions on assistant (e.g., Maruti). We think there is huge scope for innovation on the voice platform for brands, but the focus has to be on solving for an important user need,” Chadha of Google said.

While people usually look for a solution to their query, how can FMCG products be sold on a medium like this?

“Brands still believe in 30-seconders on TV, but I find that marketers are moving towards voice’s direction very strongly. HDFC Ergo has started thinking in terms of voice. So, people with service orientation will adapt to this medium faster. After that, FMCG companies like HUL, PNG will be the laggards,” said Ganguly.

Another challenging task will be to predict the long tail of keywords as with text, auto-complete does half the job by predicting user’s behaviour. So, how can brands overcome this challenge and continue to be the first answered brand?

“Brands should provide value. If you SEO your website better with more meta and specific data, then Google can get more structured data out of your website and hence it can give much better results to your users. There is a concept of micro data, so basically you tag your content and make it more structured. The more you describe your content, the more Google knows about it and doesn’t need to make guesses and gets it much more easily and hence it can create more structured output. The knowledge graph of Google ensures you almost get an answer there. With voice, all your other data goes away and what remains is the knowledge graph. The system is forced to give you one answer back,” said Gautam Mehra, Chief Data Officer, DAN.

According to Mehra, brands will now need to start thinking of ways in which they can actually address direct questions of their consumers. Brands will now have to move out of selling the product and try to figure where the consumer interest lies.

“So, if you are selling term insurance, then you start thinking about what matters the most to the parent – education. There can be a skill attached to ‘where’s the nearest tuition classes for Olympiad training’. You have to think in terms of ‘how you can add value to the brand’, then, any brand can use voice search. The intimacy you get with your consumer is far higher, because you are solving your consumer’s need rather than showing an ad that says, ‘buy me’,” explained Mehra.

Telecom giant Vodafone has already started using voice to interact with their consumers and has partnered with Amazon for it.

Siddharth Banerjee

Speaking on the importance of voice, Siddharth Banerjee, EVP Marketing, Vodafone, said, “30% searches on Google today are voice and so we are also leveraging voice as a way to interact with our consumers. We are trying to engage and appeal to users in this digital world and we recognise the power of voice and have, therefore, entered into a tie-up with Amazon.”

The brand has also integrated voice searches in its famous ‘ZooZoo’ ads.

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