February 22nd, 2017

Voice Search is the next Mobilegeddon

Jeff Allen | President at Hanapin Marketing | @JeffAllenUT

Remember when we heard for 5 years straight that “Mobilegeddon” was coming? The time is coming for a new era and we’ll go ahead and nickname it “Voicegeddon” for fun. Voice Search is only just emerging, and yet without any official ad formats, but believe me when I say that Voice Search is going to be here before you know it and will grow rapidly once it arrives. If you’re the CMO of a brand, then you need to pay particular attention to this.

Pay Per Click—which is largely made up of Paid Search, Paid Social, and Display Advertising—is growing more complex, more quickly, than most brands can keep up with. Paid Search stayed relatively the same for the first decade of Google AdWords’ existence. Then Mobile became the biggest driver of volume, quickly followed by Facebook beginning to pilfer away that audience. Now we have Artificial Intelligence, Voice Search, and an endless stream of tech companies trying to get their hands in advertisers’ pockets.

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was packed with Amazon’s Alexa. From integrating Alexa into robots to using Echo to pull marketing KPI’s. You can do a lot with Voice these days. The problem from an advertising perspective, is that it is still mostly non-commercial queries. Users are either controlling their house by voice or asking trivia questions. Platforms haven’t figured out the path to placing ads yet. But they will. And when they do, brands will see the same trajectory as mobile search traffic.



This graph from eMarketer shows how, in just 5 years, a new tech can take over an entrenched occupant (mobile taking over desktop in terms of search volume). This graph starts at 2011. The first iPhone came out in 2007, so there were 5 years before Mobile even got to 20 billion annual searches. But in 2016 it ramps up all the way to 113 billion. Our world changes quickly and Voice is showing signs that it will be what’s next.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) reports that Voice Search queries have increased 7x since 2010, which is a similar trajectory to mobile devices. Now, 22% of searches, per Google, have local intent. Many people argue that it won’t matter as much to national advertisers, however the same thing was said about Mobile too.


One of Hanapin’s good friends at Bing Ads, Purna Virji, stated it well in a recent PPC hero blog post.

The future of search is pervasive. By 2020, experts predict we’ll have 25 billion internet-connected devices. Consumers will expect to interact with and search on all those devices seamlessly. And they’ll want search results whenever and wherever they are.”

Just last week, Google began offering the ability to shop with Google Assistant on Google Home. Much like Amazon, you can order everyday essentials and have a default credit card and delivery address connected to your account, so ordering is easier than “clicking a button.” Google has promised to add new features and enable purchases for other apps and services – how long until an algorithm is produced and advertisers can pay to have their brand recommended first or a deal offered before actual available products?

At this point, this is all speculation. We can’t know the true impact of Voice Search until it happens, but you can start preparing yourself and your brand for it. How? Engage with the medium. Use Alexa, use Google assistant, use Siri. Keep an eye on how it changes your behavior. Pay attention for the possibility of new ad formats. And remember, everyone said they never bought things on their phones and now mobile commerce has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. You may not buy stuff through Voice Search, but pay attention to how others might.

Along with Voice Search, there are tons of trends your CMO needs to know right now. If you’re yearning for more, look no further than this whitepaper.