Image: NASA
Image: NASA

Voice controlled devices already seemed to have claimed their position as this year’s big trend in technology, says Ryan Gallagher from call analytics company IOVOX.
As 2017 kicked off, voice controlled devices already seemed to have claimed their position as this year’s big trend in technology. The launch of Google Home in late 2016, to compete with the already established Amazon Echo, demonstrated the investment and development in this space. Since then, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, voice controlled devices, and “smart” devices that integrate with Amazon Echo and Google Home received top billing.

In many ways, the rise of voice technology against screen devices seems somewhat overdue. Spoken word is the most natural communication method, and no amount of technical innovation is going to change the fact that it is faster and easier to say what you want, than type it. While digital assistants like Siri slowly paved the way, home devices look to be the tipping point to the mainstream adoption of voice control, with research company Gartner predicting that 30 percent of all device interactions will be voice based by 2020.

Spoken word coming back into the spotlight will have innumerable effects on the marketing industry. SEO, for example, will be immeasurably changed as voice search services become more common place. Firstly, how people search is likely to change as people speak differently to how they type. Search engine algorithms are currently designed for search terms that are made up of long form text, and as customer searches become ever more specific through voice application, it will be interesting to see how pay per click practices adapt to meet this new model. With people literally asking questions of their search engine, is true long-tail search engine marketing finally with us?

Secondly, the concept of sponsored search results will have to adapt, or risk disappearing all together. Google’s move into voice search is unsurprising, as it undoubtedly doesn’t want to be bested by Amazon. However, how it plans to monetise voice search without a screen remains to be seen. Text adverts generate about 90 percent of Google’s revenue, and probably more of its profits, so as voice search grows, one can only imagine it is working hard on a solution. Marketers should be watching closely as voice comes to the fore throughout the year, for opportunities to make the most of new mediums.

On the other hand, I predict that the rising consumer appetite for voice will have marketers immediately taking a closer look at technology already under their nose – specifically, the telephone. The vital role of the phone call for converting marketing into sales is self-evident in most industries and sectors; from restaurant’s bookings, to car dealership’s enquiries and telecom’s call centres. Yet completely counter-intuitively, businesses have typically been far slower in updating their phone practices for the 21st century than they have in online marketing efforts.

While the online customer journey is tracked, recorded and refined, many businesses haven’t taken the same data-driven approach with the phone line, leaving a gaping hole in their data. Many companies are already looking to fill this gap, and the upward trend of voice is likely to send many more looking to establish call analytic solutions to monitor their phone activity with the same granularity as web analytics.

After all, mobile and voice control devices are the most disruptive technologies in marketing, and both convert far easier to a phone call than typed enquiries or purchases. As the spoken word moves back into the spotlight, I expect the phone call will finally catch up with other technologies.

Ryan Gallagher, Founder, CEO and Director of IOVOX