Local Search

Video Deep Drive: Is Voice The Future of Local Search?

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This is the 19th installment this year of our Deep Dive Into Local series. For the week ending Monday, May 13th, David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal shared their thoughts about the previous week in local. The complete video, including links and commentary on critical happenings of the previous week is posted in the Local U forums (paywall). In the second half of that video, they take a deeper strategic and tactical dive into one interesting area that caught their attention during the week.

In this discussion, extracted from the longer video and published in addition to the regular Deep Dive from that week, David and Mike talk about the voice search, Viv and local.

David: Those of you who have either seen me present in the last nine months, or have been reading any of my tweets, or especially if you followed my -- some might describe it as a tweetstorm with Rand a couple of weeks ago -- I am very bullish on the future of voice search, and in particular the future of voice search as a primary interface for local businesses in the future.

This week there was a huge announcement from a new company called Viv that was started by the founders of Siri, so not exactly two guys in a garage, and they have built a very impressive full-featured voice search competitor to both Google Now, Siri, Amazon Echo, and presumably where Facebook is going with Messenger. Normally, you wouldn't get too excited about another kind of me too type of app, but given the history of the creators and a very impressive demo this week and, again, what I think is going to be a quickly growing market, Viv and the broader search market is certainly worth paying attention to.

Actually, the same day Google announced that they're now going to be breaking out voice search queries within this search console dashboard, so clearly Google thinks we are headed this direction as well. And I would just -- I said in my weekly newsletter this week, if you thought the growth curve on mobile was rapid, I think the adoption and growth curve on voice is going to be even faster. Just something to start paying attention to and certainly to start experimenting with to see where your clients are ranking it if you haven't done that already.

Mike: A couple of thoughts on that, David. One is that when I looked at the Viv rollout, I was really impressed. And my assessment of it was, if it isn't the product that wins, this is what the product that wins will look like. Right? Obviously, there's a lot between them and winning, not just the issue of those competitors you mentioned, but their access to the platform, their access to the apps. And it's not that it's an impossible task, but just a difficult task, and if they do sell out, they are likely to sell out to Google or Facebook which will again perhaps even limit their reach, and so that's one issue.

The other is, it dovetails very well into the development of texting, in particular into Messenger. And in the role, texting and voice could very similar interfaces and very similar roles and the inputs and outputs could be exactly the same.

David: I see them as a two sides of the same coin. Essentially a conversational interface that does not allow for lists of results to be shown. Whatever that paradigm is, that's the one that I think is already winning, and will be dominant within a couple of years.

Mike: And what I liked about Viv's designed structure was severalfold. One is that it was predicated on conversational commerce. Much like the original Siri, Apple has de-emphasized those features, those hooks. But Viv is really emphasizing them, and they are making those hooks readily available, and easily available in a structured language environment that not only makes it easy to develop but also deals with very complicated multi-stepped queries.

I'm not sure which link you're going to send me, but I also have the link for the video. So if you ... I think people should watch that video, I think because I agree with you. The question for me, though, is the ramp and the time it takes to ramp. And some things -- because of the platform issues, it may take longer than you're projecting. We'll see. I mean it's --

David: This is my bet with Rand. If you want to get on the Rand side of this one, by all --

Mike: No, no. I agree with you. What I don't know is the time frame, right? And these things are difficult to predict. I generally agree with you. I just ... don't know how long. So, you have anything else then now that I sort of stole your thunder?

David: That's my one -- again, I'm banging the voice search drum, and I've got a one-track mind at this point.

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