OK Google, what’s next…

Well, according to Google, within the next few years you will spend more time talking with bots and AI assistants than your own spouse…

And so, with developments in their voice technology, Google has ushered in the dawn of the age of assistance.

Google is at the crossroads of the growing complexity of world’s information, the rise in mobile access to this web of endless data and the user’s needs for instant gratification.

As a result, people are becoming conditioned to be more inquisitive… but typing questions isn’t quick and easy on a small device, so Google is betting on voice assistance being the next evolution in mobile behaviour.

Organising info and making it useful has always been at the heart of Google’s mission statement, but now they have to deal with making it accessible and convenient on-the-go and on small screens.

Voice seems like an easy solution to problems with small keypads. However normal language requires complex machine learning…think of the countless ways you can ask about the weather!

This is where the latest version of Google Assistant breaks new ground. Google has reduced voice error rate from 25% to 8%. The Assistant now spans all Google platforms so you can search “world questions” like the height of the Eiffel Tower and walking distance to work or “personal questions” like asking the Assistant to show all the photos of your dog in your photo library…which requires no tagging! But best of all, Google Assistant “remembers” and contextualises your exchange, so you no longer have to ask stand-alone or specific questions. Machine learning will now reference the context of the conversation, so it feels like you are talking to a human who is following the narrative.

An interesting question for marketers to ponder is – if the Assistant is going to be the first port of call for mobile users then will Google Assistant become an additional step for marketing to overcome? Will we need to target to the assistant first and convince the machine of the product value before we even get close to the end user?

Evidently, technology is catching up with normal language and conversation. However, our social norms and behaviours are holding back this technology becoming ubiquitous. People still find talking to a robot unnatural and socially awkward.

Whether brands will move with the times of assistance technology will entirely depend on how long it takes for us to adopt and normalise talking to a machine. A few more seasons of Westworld should do the trick!


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