With search volumes up 15% on last year, the IAB 2017 Search Conference '24/7 Search', which took place at the IAB UK's HQ in London, was as relevant and timely as ever. The event featured a host of inspiring speakers from agencies and brands (as well as Google and Bing) gracing the room with their take on the Search landscape in 2017 and beyond.
As you might expect, stats on how many searches happened last year, this year to date, last month, even in a given moment, were flying around the room - emphasising how important search is to everyday life. However there was a mention of erosion on several occasions. The number of people using browsers is eroding and keyboards are a dying breed (smartphones have scrapped permanent keyboards); the recent erosion of Google’s profit was even touched upon, posing the question: are keywords being eroded and what does this mean for the future of search? Beyond erosion chat, the fast, vast changes taking place in search was a running theme with all speakers.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="389"]
Death of the keyboard?[/caption]One change to the search landscape that's developed slowly but surely over time is where people search, as now we have so many options. Humans don’t just search via traditional search engines, with social media platforms (Pinterest receives 2 billion monthly searches) and sites such as Amazon (38% of purchase research happens on Amazon) offering convenient places to search online. Lest we forget YouTube, which can be regarded as a video search engine itself (Google like to call it the second largest UK search engine). We now live in a world where 'search is life' and we search instinctively across times, locations, devices & places.Another key change to note when gazing into the future of search is the rise and rise of Voice Search. Not only will Voice Search begin to replace keywords, but it also means we'll likely see a shift from lazy short-tail queries to long-tail searches, as people speak intuitively to their devices, asking in more natural spoken language. Voice Search is expected to grow rapidly over the next five years, with forecasts that voice and image search combined will account for half of all searches in four years.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="654"]
Voice search will alter the way we search to become more naturally fluent and conversational[/caption]Image search is also on the rise, with the likes of Bing’s Snapshot and Pinterest Lens, adapting to the idea that showing is easier than telling. From Google, a shopping comparison feature when browsing images on mobile, plus their recent testing of image sitelinks are new visual developments. Eva Tuckman, PPC Director of ROAST, explained how humans are wired to process the world visually and that we're able to ‘read’ images 60,000 times faster than text, which sheds light on why messaging is now almost impossible without emoji’s.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1000"]
Can Pinterest Lens crack curated visual search?[/caption]Another phenomenon that’s rapidly changing search is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. In particular the growth of programmatic and the concept that people don’t search for products any more, products search for people. AI has already massively impacted Search and expect this to further engrain itself into search functionality.There were concerns raised over customer loyalty and how the cluttered search space impacts loyalty, now that consumers have ease of choice, expect transparency and ultimately have all the power. At the other end of the spectrum, new ‘internet of things’ devices, such as the Amazon Dash, which automatically replenishes your favourite products at the click of a button, make it seriously tough for competition.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="572"]
Amazon have been marked as one Google's main competitors[/caption]So what do all of these changes mean for fellow marketers? The important thing is to have a clear, single view and strategy of the entire search landscape. Map it out and view it as one integrated space before seeking out where value lies for you. Focus on what is most relevant to your business objectives and understand the different types of customers and audiences that are searching and then most importantly how they search.Navigate Digital were invited to contribute a chapter to the IAB’s Search 2017: Emerging Trends whitepaper, released in line with the event. Our Head of Biddable David Walby took on Chapter 5: Location Location Location.Louis Austin, Biddable Account Manager (& Firewarden)