Were you as enthralled as we were watching the Google IO presentation of the new Voice Assistant? Let’s face it - the technology is amazing. It’s a huge step forward for Google but it leaves a lot of lingering questions about how it will be used. Marketers, in particular, will be tracking this closely to see how it affects brands.
So what is it anyway?
Basically, it’s Google’s current voice assistant, just with another layer of technology on top of it called Duplex. It has the power to become the next common denominator in business, thanks to its ability to facilitate AI phone calls to local businesses to schedule appointments for users. Right now, incredibly, as many as 60% of small businesses don’t have an online booking system. This solution by Google is meant to connect the dots for users and businesses by using voice calls to conduct business.
How is it going to be used?
During the demo, Google skipped over details such as how Duplex will determine which vendors to contact for certain requests. For example, will there be a list in your phone it can reference that specifies a user’s preferred salon dentist or plumber? Or will a user’s previous search requests help the Duplex technology choose a local business instead, offering alternatives until the user accepts one?
No matter its method to determine vendors, Duplex represents future conversions for brands driven entirely from their digital footprint, even though the conversions will be attributed to a phone call.
Another subject Google didn’t address during the demo was whether the company will be monetizing this service by allowing brands to bid for being a suggested result. The possibility for Google monetizing this service for brands is huge, and we are already questioning how much transparency there will be in the process. There are already situations where a screenless interaction results in giving preference to a certain brand or product. Tallwave will be keeping an eye out for the developments here, and so should you.
How will it affect brand equity?
Duplex is also a technology that has the potential to further erode brand equity. We already know that branded searches have been on the decline, which will only be compounded further by the rise in voice search.
In addition, the prevalence of searches using a brand as a prefix has decreased in recent years. This trend will also continue with voice. For example, users are more likely to say, “Buy batteries” instead of “Buy Duracell batteries”. If Google is assisting the user in choosing a provider rather than using a provider that had been previously indicated, it is further validation we will see fewer appointments made with a branded voice command.
As a final observation, there’s the question of how this technology will impact society as a whole. Is this a good development for us as humans? With as much time as we are already spending with technology, this advancement represents one more step back from interacting with a human.
What does this new technology mean for you? Do you feel excitement or concern? Let’s start the conversation.
Nathan Spidle, Search Strategist
Written by Tallwave