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Alexa, how are you skewing my Search results?

Comments  /  Rachel Molloy

While voice-powered virtual assistants have been around for several years, new advancements have been made to enhance the consumer experience. Ad campaigns for Alexa, Google Home, and Siri show how easy it is to use these devices and promote the convenience of using a voice-activated device to access information and purchase product. This week, Media Works investigates how these products affect our advertisers – specifically those who run Paid Search – and leads us to this question: “Alexa, how are you skewing my Search results?”

First, we looked at the top three products in this category:

We also wanted to look at this market and exactly how many people use these devices, to estimate audience size. eMarketer estimates that 35.6M Americans will use a voice-activated assistant in 2017 – an increase of nearly 130% over last year. Amazon Echo accounts for 70.6% of users, with Google Home at a 23.8% share. Of these users, eMarketer identified the heaviest users as A25-34, making up 26.3% of users. From a generational standpoint, Millennials are the heaviest users: more than 33.5% of Millennials will use a virtual assistant in 2017.

So what does all of this mean for advertisers? Voice-search technology affects how users approach Search and how devices handle inquiries. And, due to the fact that human conversational speech is used, most questions asked require concise, simple answers. This may affect keyword lists and the way advertisers push their content on the web.

And, you don’t get to pick which search engine you use. If you are asking Alexa or Siri a question, they consult Yahoo!/Bing. However, if you are using Google Home, your search will be conducted on Google. For advertisers that exclusively use Google, they may have to consider using additional search engines to reach these voice-activated devices. Ad copy and strategy 7may also need to be adjusted to specifically target these users.

With voice-activated technology advancing so quickly, it’s impossible to predict where this trend will take us in the next few years. Yet, one thing is certain: advertisers will need to account for these new devices and adopt media strategies to reach their users.