Do you have a question about everything? Just Google (or Bing/Yahoo/Yandex/Baidu, whatever floats your boat) it! Take your PC/Mac, Tablet or Smartphone, type in some keywords, press “search”, and there you go, fresh, valuable information will come into sight. All that, with tremendous speed, surgical accuracy, and completely free of charge.
As a generation y/millennial hybrid (born in 1995, popped out during a generation transition), I grew up following this pattern. Curiosity was my driver, the internet my vehicle, setting off for a journey of endless information, never to return.
Yet, the way we search for stuff is rapidly changing from the sidelines. Just typing isn’t going to do justice by itself. Google, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba, and other tech companies constantly work to revolutionize search engines. Let’s have a closer look.
“By 2020, at least 50% of all internet searches are going to be either through images or speech.” Andrew Ng, Former Chief Scientist of Baidu
The Onset of Virtual Assistants & Voice Search
“OK Google” “Alexa!” “Hey, Siri!”
- 55% Percent of teens and 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day. (Google, 2014)
- By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen. (Gartner, 2016)
- 20% of all Google Queries in the US are voice searches. (Google, 2016).
Statistics from a variety of sources uncover a hard to swallow truth; Voice search already infiltrated the customer base. Considering that most of the stats mentioned above are from 2016 or older, before the craze for Smart Speakers even began, one can assume that these trends are rapidly growing.
Nowadays, it is estimated that 24% of Americans own a smart speaker in their homes (Nielsen, Q2 2018). Amazon Echo and Google Home, dominates the smart speaker/virtual assistant market, following by products created from Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Apple (Statista, 2018). According to the same sources, 81% of these users admit using their devices for real-time voice searches.
This isn’t the future, as you must have understood by now; it’s a reality for a lot of citizens in the developed world. But sounds alone isn’t the sole responsible for this huge digital transition.
“Lens” Applications, an Image-Based Search Revolution on the Making
It’s incredible to see how tech companies rarely rest on what they have. Instead, they try to innovate, even if that means they are about to cannibalize their own products. After all, a market leader’s worst enemy is its past self.
Google, the biggest player of the internet search market by a landslide, never stagnates. Revolutionizing the industry is what it does for a living. Enter, Google Lens, a revolution for the sector.
The application uses your smartphone’s camera to identify your surroundings. Have you ever passed from a storefront, only to lay your eyes upon the perfect pair of sneakers? Or maybe you saw a cat you adored, and wanted to know its breed? Just unlock your phone, open google lens, point your camera at the object of your choice and let Google do the rest.
After trying the app for myself, I understood that there’s still ground to cover. Google knows that, but allowed us to have a glimpse on what the future of search holds. As it’s powered via AI, it needs our data to improve over time. It was the right move to do; Lens is very popular among its users, helping the app get better over time.
Google isn’t the only tech startup that shows an interest in the visual search market. Pinterest, the internet’s “catalogue of ideas”, according to its CEO, Ben Silbermann, solely focuses on images, has a lens app on its own. Enter, Pinterest Lens (I can see a pattern going on here).
Yet, their usage is different; Google Lens is a image-based search for a specific object, across the whole web. Pinterest Lens focuses on finding images based on aesthetic similarities, but its results are limited to the platform’s content. You can have a look on their differences by reading GuidingTech’s article.
Both companies seem to rely a lot on visual searches, too. Pinterest reportedly services over 600 million image searches per month. And, according to Moz, 24% of all queries result in visual content (11.5% images & 13.5% videos). PRNewsWire expects image recognition is expected to estimate up to $25.65 billion, changing the search market forever.
Everything’s About to Change
Isaak Newton’s famous third law implies: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Inspired by his legacy, I am here to create the third law of Digital Marketing “for every internet update, there is an equal reaction from the Marketing World”.
And that’s true; even the smallest “improvement” can alter your digital marketing strategy. But a revolution on the search market isn’t something to get past off; it will require changes from the marketing world, some of which I’ll cover in another blog post. Stay Tuned!