Google has been testing a feature on mobile that allows consumers to verbally query the item at a nearby store and have multiple results returned in audio along with prices and availability. A more detailed list serves up on the mobile screen.
The audio response emphasizes the impact of voice search and provides another way for Google to sell ads. Bring up Google Chrome on an iPhone, for example, and query through voice search "little black dresses near me" and Google's assistant will respond with "dresses are available for $295 at Saks Fifth Avenue in Costa Mesa. They are also available starting at $9.99 at seven other stores in that area."
Do the same search but mix it up by asking for a "little blue dress by me" and the query returns an audio response of "dresses are available for $49.99 at JC Penney's Westminster. They also are available starting for $24 at four other stores in that area."
Rumors have been flying around other agency teams for about a year that this was in the works, says Jonathan Kagan, senior director of search and biddable media at Marc USA. These were rumors, he said, but not concrete evidence.
A new audio ad unit that provides a list of retailers and prices of items is exactly what Google Assistant in Home would use to serve up a detailed list of goods nearby, but Kagan says this feature on mobile should become a more effective way of capturing consumers on the move, especially when traveling by car when following legal safety rules.
When asked where the data comes from to provide such a detailed description of available inventory, Kagan said the ad likely pulls from Google Shopping and local inventory ads, and possibly even from Maps, because it provides a store, price and geographic location.
It turns out that Google has been testing the feature for quite some time, but it officially rolled out last week in the U.S., according to a Google spokesperson. Now, when people use voice search to search for products nearby or in a certain area, they'll get verbal responses based on local inventory around them. This is essential the same experience on search, when a similar query would pull up relevant products in the form of local inventory ads.