Privacy And Security Still Concerns For Virtual Assistant Users, Bing Ads Study Says

Some 41% of users of virtual assistants still admit to having concerns around trust, privacy and passive listening. Consumers say they will not give up personally identifiable information without a substantial reward, although more than half believe digital assistants will help them make retail purchases within the next five years.

The biggest concerns in a study published by the Bing Ads team involve security for personal information at 52%, and not knowing the ways companies will use the information at 24%. About 41% also are concerned with the device actively listening or recording conversations when not in use.

The study from the Bing Ads team analyzes disruptions based on virtual assistants and conversational artificial intelligence (AI), and is based on findings from two separate online consumer focused surveys.

The study combines findings from two reports. One report aggregates more than 2,000 global responses from the Market Intelligence survey that took place between March and June 2018. The other survey aggregates responses from an online research tool called AskSuzy where 5,000 U.S. consumers responded in February 2019. The goal for both was to gain a better understanding of the use and adoption of the technology shifts that are changing shopping.

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Voice search continues to become more pervasive, with 72% of survey participants saying they use Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana. Only 35% admit to using voice search through a smart speaker.

The most popular voice assistants are Apple Siri at 36% and Google Assistant at 36%. Alexa came in third, with 25% of the respondents admitting to using it. Microsoft Cortana came in fourth, with 19% market share.

The findings suggest that 69% of respondents have used a digital assistant in the past, with 75% of households admitting they will have at least one smart speaker by 2020. 

In the 2018 study, about 23% said they owned a smart speaker, compared with 45% in the 2019 study. Some 30% in 2018 said they would purchase a smart speaker, compared with 26% in 2019. About 47% in 2018 said they had no plans to purchase a smart speaker, whereas in 2019 that number fell to 29%.

Of the 30% planning to purchase a smart speaker, 73% said they want to do so within the next six months.

Searching for a quick fact tops the list at 68% for the reasons that consumers use a digital assistant. Asking for directions is at 65%, followed by searching for a product or service at 52%, searching for a business at 47%, and researching a product or service at 52% comes in to close out the top five.   

Only 25% said they have made a purchase using a digital assistant. Some 16% have changes an order and 14% have canceled an order.

When asked to name the smart speaker they will buy, Google Home had the biggest drop from year to year. In 2018 58% said they would purchase a Google Home, falling to 17% in 2019. Google Home Mini also fell from 36% in 2018 to 31% in 2019.

The Harmon Kardon Invoke, which relies on Microsoft Cortana as its virtual assistant, also fell from 6% in 2018 to 5% in 2019.

Amazon Echo is the only smart speaker to increase in popularity, from 38% in 2018 to 43% in 2019.

Half of consumers expect their digital assistants to help make retail purchases within the next five years. But nearly one-third of respondents say they already use voice commands through IoT and connected devices such as TVs, at 36%, and connected cars, at 31%.

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