When Search Becomes Invisible

Ghost-B2_1How will the online advertising industry support search engine optimization and paid-search ads when the act of typing keywords into a search box to create a query becomes invisible? The act of searching for information will blend into voice-assisted programs, with geolocation targeting supported by data.

If you view the concept as a next-generation technology, think again. Then think about Google's Glass Project, Google Now, and Bing and Yahoo's quest to eliminate blue links.

Some search experts, such as aimClear Founder Marty Weintraub, agree with the hypothesis that search will "gradually" become invisible, but never fully disappear as a stand-alone service. He believes the transition already began as a result of Siri and Droid. "It may be some time before the quality standard is in place," he said. "Right now it is hit or miss, and staggeringly cool when it works. I only talk to my Droid GPS, and very rarely need to input anything by typing."

Marketers need to ensure that Kenshoo, IgnitionOne, Marin, Covario and others support this change -- and not wait until voice search becomes more prominent in engines and embedded in apps for desktop and mobile where geolocation services like Google Now become the norm. The technology combines geolocation with voice search, and will become available on mobile devices running Android 4.1. Google made the source code available Monday night.

Search engines like Google will not stop and wait for technology companies to catch up. Technology companies will need to determine the triggers that translate voice into text or signals, so demand-side platforms (DSPs), data management platforms (DMPs), ad networks and others can serve up ads.

Geoffrey Shenk, chief evangelist at Kenshoo, a search platform technology company, thinks about the topic often. A quick, short answer leads him to the word "yes," but the longer, more detailed answer explains how search transitions from reactive to proactive. He gives the example of Jeeves, and how Ask.com harnesses the data collected from questions and answers.

Data remains one reason why InterActiveCorp's once sleepy little question-and-answer (Q&A) site, Ask.com, will turn into a data-mining powerhouse to support the company's network of sites. Questions reveal intent and offer up insights into what's on the minds of individuals and answers reveal how people think and predictive behavior. Combine human behavior with mathematics and companies produce a winning combination for advertisers that do not require a physical search on a traditional engine, such as google.com, bing.com or yahoo.com.

Voice search will change from reciting keywords like "Mexican restaurants in Huntington Beach" to "What is the closest Mexican restaurant in Huntington Beach" or "Which nearby Mexican restaurant has the best ratings?" I nod as Shenk explains how voice, image, real time video, location, and event-based searches will become seamless across all devices. "Think Axis on steroids, but across all apps and channels," he said. "Think Kayak and YouTube in a way that personalizes and amplifies their value to each user."

What happens when the inflection in someone's voice combines with a geolocation tag and becomes the trigger for a search query? This topic, explored at the last MediaPost Search Insider Summit, warrants a closer look at the next summit in December.

Shenk believes personalized search results will rise to a whole new realm based on data, voice, intent, geolocation, and more. Think of search results based on a person's accent, tone of voice, the angle or interpretation of the image or video recently shot and stored in a cloud-based platform.

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