It seems that this past Christmas season the commercials on TV were one of three types, Mobile Phone commercials, car commercials, or the new internet enabled home virtual assistant devices such as:

  • Google Home
  • Facebook Portal
  • Amazon Echo (Alexa)
  • and a variety of other emerging devices

These devices, commonly situated on a table, shelf or counter top, act more like a mobile device than a non-mobile desktop computer.  They  are used because they are instantly accessible and can perform functions with a minimum of effort.  Unlike a desktop computer, which they may be positioned directly beside, they do not offer the variety of input methods such as keyboards and mouse clicks.  So input, and output, are somewhat restricted.

 

alexa voice search internet device

Alexa used to access internet via voice search

 

Google Home Internet Search

Google Home Voice Search

Mobile phones were also pushing their many capabilities adding to the ways you can access the Internet and interact with your devices, besides touching the keyboard.  This ads both Siri and Cortana to the list of personal assistants that are changing how voice search and voice commands are a rising trend (see Siri Told Me to Call You).   If you are wondering what Cortana is, it’s search box in the lower left corner of your Windows computer that can be accessed by typing in the box or speaking via your computer’s microphone.  It can be used for everything from putting your computer into sleep mode to requesting an internet search.

Now consider the primary method in which users interact with all these devices, it is your voice, and for most of these devices, interaction is 100% voice, no screen, no keyboard.  So while many of these voice activated virtual assistants offer home automation features such as turning your lights on an off, changing the settings on your thermostat, they are more commonly being used to obtain Internet search results.  A quick query like “Hey Alexa, what will be the weather this afternoon? seems simple enough but it can go well beyond simple and basic information.

As we as consumers seek more and more convenience and instant response, often we opt to rely on the more convenient source of information available as the authority source.  When using these internet enabled virtual devices, we interact as if they were a mobile device we are having a conversation with.  The conversation is like a Q&A interview and most often the answers are a single result, the result the device (the search algorithm behind the device) determines as the single best response.   The conversation is the key distinction in how these devices are changing the way in which marketers need to think to about their website content and how to capitalize on the rise of devices that act like mobile.