Author: Ben Dahl

As a rule, people will sacrifice privacy for convenience. An assumption that Eric Enge makes in predicting the future of search… and rightly so.

5-10 years from now search will dominated by voice commands. Eric’s company, Stone Temple Consulting, published this article showing that over 60% of people use voice search in their home by themselves. We see the corresponding advent of personal assistant software. Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana as the major players.

These “assistants” crawl the web, and respond out loud with the single highest quality result. This is where Eric talks about “position zero” in search. The first position in Google already dominates the majority of all click through traffic. The disparity will increase as more and more users adopt voice search, since results are automatically relayed without the option to scroll a web page. How paid advertising will adapt to the world of voice search is uncertain.

Already, personal assistant software has expanded beyond search and into the IoT (Internet of Things). These assistants connect to anything on the web which now includes refrigerators, thermostats, sprinkler systems, baby monitors and home security devices. Household items with wi-fi can now all be managed from a phone. In exchange for the data-farming and constant virtual eavesdropping, we all stand to be exponentially more efficient.

Ben Dahl and Eric Enge at the April Signature Speaker Series.

Skeptics argue that people will not sacrifice their privacy or risk their information for the added convenience. Though, at every point along the way, people have (quite willingly) sacrificed their privacy. The telephone revolutionized communication, but opened the door for telemarketing. None of us would trade our ability to call someone anywhere in the world and go back to sending letters or using radio, just to avoid cold calls. Surely, some will resist, but we cannot expect that group behavior will suddenly pivot away from its historical trend. Just look at the adoption of the internet and Facebook.

How advertisers and agencies will monetize this is yet to be seen, though we can expect personalized marketing to become even more targeted based on our specific needs. Think what we could do as marketers with data from wearables that monitor heart-rate, sleep, and nutrition. There is both the opportunity to provide immense value, and the threat of unrestricted abuse. Optimistically, the latter will diminish as ethics policies are refined and more strictly enforced. That prediction based on the history of Google and Facebook advertising.

How AR/VR will become a part of the conversation is still somewhat of a mystery, but we can guess based on progress in the auto industry. Sensors the feed information to AR overlays are already here. VR has not yet evolved from a consumer toy to a practical, mass-marketed tool, but it likely will in the next 5 years. My bet is that Apple will have a strong answer to these unknowns when they launch their iPhone 10 from their new Spaceship campus in Cupertino.

In this modern age, many predict a not-so-distant reality resembling Terminator or Minority Report. While it is easy to fear change and resist innovation, we must remember the opportunities that emerge with new technologies. As marketers, we will yield more and more power, therefore responsibility, to provide value and help others rather than manipulate consumers simply for the sake of generating revenue and making money.

About Ben Dahl

Ben Dahl is a Digital Marketing Specialist. He works at GNGF conducting case studies on company services through Google Analytics, managing SEM campaigns, and optimizing sites for SEO.