Google Voice Search vs. Siri in Battle for Speech-Driven Ads

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2012-02-14 Print this article Print

Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a pretty faithful follower of John Battelle's own Search Blog.

Battelle sparked an interesting conversation about the mobile ad opportunities voice search technologies, such as Google Voice Actions and Apple's Siri virtual assistant, offer. Google Voice Actions.png

Battelle wrote:

Driving into work yesterday, I realized how useful voice search is going to be to me, once I've got it installed. Stuck in traffic, I tried searching for alternate routes, and it struck me how much easier it'd be to just say "Give me alternate routes." That got me thinking about all manner of things--many of which are now possible--"Text my wife I'll be late," "Email my assistant and ask her to print the files for my 11 a.m. meeting," "Find me a good liquor store within a mile of here."

Battelle suggested click-to-call might be Google's primary business model for Google's Voice Actions, which I'm guessing will arrive as part of the "Majel" voice search upgrade.

Maybe Google will call it speak to call, and those who advertised would pay based on calls made to their place of business from Google phones. No paid inclusion please!

The idea is to remove any text input from the equation. So when it comes to speech, that negates advertising on PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets, all of which Google is lacing with advertising.

I have to agree with what Raj Singh wrote in the comments of Battelle's post that the future for voice search ads will be driven (no pun intended) by motor vehicles. Singh noted:

My anecdotal data suggests that primary voice usage is still in the car. I'm not yet sure if Siri has transcended voice usage from the car to the broader day. The primary issue is not Siri (NLP); it's the accuracy of voice to text (e.g., Nuance) in a "noisier" environment and/or the use of voice in public places where the query itself might be private, especially when the data requested (search/intent) is against personal data (e.g., email from John).

That seems on the mark. Background noise is a huge challenge for engineers building voice search apps, or so Google's Speech Recognition director Mike Cohen told me last year. Also challenging is accommodating hundreds of languages.

Less clear to me is Apple's model in all of this. Does Apple build its own speech monetization platform, or tap Google?

I can't imagine Apple acquired Siri to have Google be the primary money-maker here, though, as Battelle noted, Siri is free with the iPhone. Thoughts? |

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