May 18, 2017

Google Home Gets Proactive and Visual

Google Assistant

One of the more interesting developments coming out of Google I/O 2017 is the way Google is improving its Google Home voice-activated speaker, which is powered by Google Assistant.  Like every other player in the market for voice assistants, Google is chasing after Amazon, which dominates the market with Echo. Google’s strategy is to make Google Home as smarter and more versatile, especially with these features announced May 17:

  • Proactive Assistance: with Proactive Assistance, Google Home updates you without your prompting. Here’s how it works: let’s say you have an appointment to get a car stereo installed at your local Best Buy, or you have tickets to see Father John Misty at the Chicago Theater. Google Home can alert you with reminders that your appointment or concert are coming up soon. Because Google Home is a smart device, it can also tell you about traffic conditions or changes in the weather that might affect the timing of your trip to Best Buy or the Chicago Theater.
  • Visual Responses: through Visual Responses, Google Home allows you to integrate visual content along with voice. So perhaps you might want Google Home to display the route you’re going to take to Best Buy or the set list from Father John Misty’s most recent concert before you leave home or while you’re on the go. Visual Responses allows Google Home to perform those tasks by displaying the content on your phone or TV. The idea behind Visual Responses is to give you an alternative to managing information that is either too complicated for voice or is just better expressed visually.

Google is enhancing Google Home and Google Assistant in many other ways, as reported on Google’s blog. Essentially Google wants to broaden its reach across the omnichannel discovery ecosystem by building off its legacy understanding of search to create more ambient discovery experiences. Whether Google (or other tech giants like Apple) can catch up to Amazon remains to be seen, but the voice assistant arms race will make omnichannel discovery more useful to both consumers and businesses.

Businesses can thrive in this increasingly omnichannel world in a number of ways. As I have written in Search Engine Land, smart brands like Domino’s Pizza have been responding by making themselves more visible and useful regardless of what device or method that people use to find what they need.  You can order a Domino’s pizza with voice commands, tweets, and a number of other ways.

Businesses also have an opportunity to get out in front of proactive discovery by figuring out how to be part of the conversation occurring on devices such as Google Home. Conceivably Best Buy could provide updates to its customers in the example I cited and provide other useful information, such as the availability of products in the store tailored to your purchase history.

As I wrote in Search Engine Land, “The next frontier of omnichannel discovery for businesses will involve using advanced analytics and consumer measurement tools to anticipate consumer discovery and either positioning themselves with the right solution before a search begins or pre-empting the search completely.”

The major data publishers such as Google are pushing us into a more proactive, multichannel experience. It’s up to you to keep up. If you would like to learn more, please contact us.

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