Consumers Still Prefer Google, But Siri Has Her Fans

If you want to reach consumers, you have to be where they are. And though they’re still primarily on Google, things may be changing.

According to a survey of 800 consumers from Fivesight Research, when consumers are thinking about search, they’re thinking about Google. About 84% of smartphone users are using Google, regardless of whether they’re on an iPhone or Android system. On desktops, Google accounts for 79% of the searches.

“It’s what we’ve suspected: [Google] dominates, no matter what angle you look at it,” Joe Buzzanga, founder and chief analyst at Fivesight, tells Search Insider. “What surprised us was how strong Siri performed.”

Indeed, Google’s biggest competition isn’t other search engines like Yahoo (1% on mobile, 7% desktop) or Bing (1% mobile, 5% desktop). It’s Siri, which accounted for 6% of mobile search market share. Indeed, the virtual personal assistants as a whole are upending the search market, with 72% of consumers using the technology (which include Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana) to supplement their traditional search.



“What’s happening is there’s a shift into new technologies,” Buzzanga says. “That’s going to unfold in interesting ways.”

Those ways tend to reinforce what we’ve already predicted, specifically:

Voice search is real, and right now. Siri being Google’s closest competitor reinforces what we’ve been saying for months: Voice search is the new search. The ease of voice search on mobile devices, coupled with the increase in personal home assistants (including Amazon’s Alexa), demonstrates an urgent need to update approaches to account for conversational speech. Siri and Cortana have already been adapted into the Apple’s and Microsoft’s desktop operating systems (and it could come to Google at any time).

“[Search marketing] is still about keywords and queries, but we’re seeing the beginnings of some shifts,” Buzzanga says. “Marketers are going to have to figure out how to play in that space.”

Apple should get into the virtual assistant game soon. Apple pioneered voice search, and it’s frankly a bit astounding that there’s not a Siri-based home device already. The fact that Siri is the second-most preferred platform for mobile search demonstrates consumers’ comfort with the platform, making the leap into a home device pretty simple. At the company’s next unveiling, a Siri-enabled, Beats-powered speaker could be the “one more thing” we’ve come to expect from those presentations. “Even though Apple doesn’t have a device in the home, Siri has strong brand recognition,” Buzzanga says.

Despite this, no one will surpass Google anytime soon. Siri may be Google closest competitor, but looking at the preferences above, “close” is a bit of a misnomer. According to the survey, 82% of iOS users have downloaded Google as a search app for their phones (and Google is already the default for the mobile Safari browser). Google listings and results are clearly more important than ever.

Search is not dead. About half of the survey respondents said they were using search engines more frequently than a year ago, and 43% said they’re using them with about the same frequency. Only 6% said their usage is less than a year ago. However, the way they approach search is changing. While the survey didn’t examine elements such as vertical search through Amazon or on other marketplaces, they are a growing segment of search. Consumers are also starting to put more information in their searches (i.e., “near me” and greater descriptors) to find what they want more quickly.

Anticipate how and where consumers might search and be ready with all possibilities. “The market still has a big upside, and there’s no sign that it is going away,” Buzzanga says. “It’s going to be a great space to watch.”

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