While traditional online search via desktop browser has been declining over the past 10 years, digital website trends arbiter Memeburn notes that the next generation of search will rely on “far more complex and intelligent methods.” They note that evolving technologies will change not only how consumers discover products but also, the way brands connect with their presence online.
Memeburn identified four search technologies that play a significant role in evolving search habits:
1. Virtual Assistants
Included under the Virtual Assistant (VA) banner are Google Now, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. While these devices are portals to traditional search engines that operate through voice control and deliver highly personalized results, they also have the ability to access everything from one’s email inbox and shopping habits to location and demographic information. On another level, VAs are expanding to include access not only from one’s smartphone, but from televisions, cars, desktop computers and “dedicated assistant” devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Chatbots are powered increasingly by the same kind of artificial intelligence and big data access that makes everything from Siri to IBM’s Watson so smart, according to Memeburn. Messenger platforms such as Kik and WeChat already use them (they also are just starting on Facebook Messenger), and they are poised to become a standard POS feature for every business and content producer in the near future.
While beacon technology “has yet to have a breakout moment,” Memeburn predicts that it will eventually become a commonplace source of data for refining search results. By using one’s habits, preferences and locale, micro-location will make it possible to create a context that can be leveraged to create more precise search results.
4. Visual Recognition
Anyone who uses social media knows that photos and videos comprise a large portion of the content people consume. Yet, even though what we view, like, share and snap is valuable and revealing data, a majority of images posted on social channels lack any identifying text or hashtags and as such, may be difficult to find.
According to Memeburn, there are a number of companies devising image recognition software that are now harnessing data from photos and videos and making it available for search.
On a B2B level (such as with Health IT), contextual ads are served to relevant images found through imaging recognition, essentially monetizing images just as AdWords monetized search words. Also, marketers are now able to utilize computer vision algorithms that can analyze photos and instantaneously pick out items such as faces, animals, objects and logos. The benefit: it provides brands with better insight on how consumers use their products that was once unavailable to them.
Looking ahead, online search is on the verge of major change. A flood of data synthesized from a variety of new sources will be leveraged to create search results that are fast, precise and valuable for both consumers and brands. Says Memeburn: “As with search so far, the key for forward-thinking marketers and brands will be to not only delve deeply into these technologies and platforms as research and marketing intelligence tools, but also to master newfangled forms of search engine optimization.”