Virtual Reality & Voice Activated Search: What’s to Come

virtual reality vs voice activated search

Digital marketers are facing a paradigm shift in the way consumers are getting access to content. The rise of virtual reality (VR) offers a more immersive user experience than what was once only conceivably possible in science fiction. The smartphone revolution has spurred innovation for VR to become a huge opportunity for digital marketers looking for cutting-edge ways to reach consumers. It is expected that VR will become a $38 billion industry by 2626. However, for VR to take off, consumers need to adjust to buying another device–VR headsets. While it was a popular gift item in the 2016 holiday season, VR headsets have yet to reach a critical mass.

In contrast to the idea of immersion into the virtual world that VR encompasses is the rise of voice activated assistants. Instead of adding a device to one’s face to connect to the digital world, voice activated assistants can be easily integrated into everyday routine. Both technological advances signify a new era in how we interact with the internet of things, but are vastly different in use.

While VR seems like the trendy new, cutting edge innovation that everyone wants their hands on, voice activated assistants have captured the public as well. In fact, voice activated search is being used by 55% of teens and 41% of adults daily.

Siri and Google Assistant have been in consumer’s pockets for a few years, but most recently, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Home have taken a more permanent residence in our homes. These digital assistants answer user’s search queries without much effort, which is something marketers need to take into consideration when creating content that these virtual assistants will draw answers from.

In the future, use of both platforms will undoubtedly rise, but which will consumers respond more positively to? Which will become more ubiquitous, and how can digital marketers use them to their advantage? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each:

Voice Activated Assistants

The way people search has changed little since the internet came on the scene. Though many search engines have come and gone, the method has stayed the same: type a query into a search bar. With voice activated assistants, the way people search has changed slightly: Search in the traditional sense is on average 2-3 words long; however, when a user is speaking to a voice activated search assistant, they are more likely speak more fluidly and use the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and How). This creates a huge opportunity for marketers to adjust their content to respond more efficiently to these queries.

Voice activated search on mobile platforms are 3 times more likely to be used for local searches. The verbiage used within these searches is slightly different as well. For example, “Where is the closest dentist” is more likely to be said aloud than, “dentist new Windsor ny”. To ensure your brand is shown with these searches, it is important to take into consideration the local jargon for how customers would refer to your business or industry. Including terms like “near the stadium” could appear under a “Directions” page so that it could be detected by one of these voice activated search engines.

As voice recognition technology advances, there will be more opportunities for marketers to leverage these products for SEO. Once consumers develop more trust for Siri, Alexa, and Cortana as their algorithms become more accurate, it is foreseeable that these products’ recommendations will become a more necessary part of American life.

Tips on how to leverage Voice Activated Assistants for your digital marketing needs:

  1. Be sure to use local keywords on your website if people are likely to be looking for a business near them.
  2. Schema markups can help your business in ranking on the search engine results page (SERP), and it is recommended that you apply it to your website.
  3. Voice searches are likely to be spoken naturally. Be sure to include the 5 W’s (+How) on your website. A FAQ page could help cover this base.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power that Voice Activated Search will have on SEO in the near future. Take steps now to make sure your business can compete with others to take advantage of this mode of search.

Virtual Reality

As VR headsets become a more commonly owned device in the American household, it is becoming apparent very quickly that VR is no longer just for gamers. With this new platform comes opportunities to be creative with how digital marketers are reaching target markets. So far, it has been well-received: 62% of consumers would feel more engaged with a brand that uses VR experiences. Additionally, 71% of consumers think a brand is forward thinking if a brand uses VR.

Clearly, digital marketers cannot ignore the potential in reaching consumers in a completely reinvented way. Volvo used VR to create an advertisement that was both interesting and effective.

Drawback to creating VR content: it is very expensive. Actually, companies pay more for VR videos than regular video ads. The advantage is that the consumer is fully engaged in the advertisement and it can be interactive.

Virtual reality has the potential to completely transform the way social media is used, which is evident in Facebook’s investment to 360-degree video in newsfeed.

Despite the high cost, the risk involved in investing precious company cash into VR advertising can pay off in being the first mover in your industry to do so. It is important to note that companies creating VR advertisements are still creating headlines–just by generating the content! The public relations coverage gained from this has the potential to pay for the advertisement itself.

Tips on how to leverage Virtual Reality for your digital marketing needs:

  1. Conduct a cost benefit analysis on how applicable your business lends itself to creating VR content. Keep in mind that there is a belief that VR will become as well accepted as smartphones.
  2. Consider how SEO will be influenced by VR–Just as PlayStation started out as a gaming system and is now used as a search engine, VR can also be used in this way as the technology transforms.
  3. Start by making a 360-degree video. These can be done at a relatively low cost compared to virtual reality and can serve as a test to the market.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be the first mover to do this within your industry. Headlines are worth their weight in free coverage!

Now that we’ve discussed how both platforms will influence digital marketing dramatically, the question must be asked: Which platform should I focus on leveraging in in the coming year that will bring me the best returns?

Looking at the numbers, it is clear that voice activated assistants will be used more often than VR in the near future. Voice activated search assistants are already in the pockets of nearly anyone besides stubborn luddites, and their use is growing as they become more accurate and trusted by consumers. VR can be more effective when targeting segments of the market which are already heavily engaged in buying the latest products and using them often. As of now, the technology may be too expensive for most companies to adopt as a significant part of their advertising budget.

Improving SEO will have huge benefits, no matter if the user is utilizing Google, Bing, Cortana, or a VR headset. Interact Marketing is a local SEO agency that can help your business reach its SEO potential so you can stay ahead of the game.

author avatar
Joe Beccalori CEO
Joe Beccalori is a twenty-five-year digital marketing veteran and industry thought leader. After working for fifteen years in enterprise web programming, design, and marketing services he founded Interact Marketing in November 2007 and is currently the company CEO, visionary, and public speaker. He is also a contributing author on Forbes, Huffington Post, and In December of 2017, Interact's parent company also acquired Slingshot SEO.
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