Voice search continues to gain acceptance with consumers. However, integration with connected TV device voice search is a better bet than supporting the major smart speaker systems.
Voice services taking hold
According to the latest Video Trends Report from TiVo, voice search is becoming increasingly important to video viewers. The company says that 30% of consumers have access to voice search to help them find something to watch, up from 24% in 2017. As well, the proportion of those with access using the technology inched up from 58% to 60% over the period.
Where voice search seems to be particularly useful is with connected TV devices. All the major streaming media players, game consoles, and smart TVs support it. The most popular device to use for video voice search is Amazon Fire TV. The Alexa-powered devices were used by 41% of people saying they use voice search, an increase of 28% from 2017. Apple TV was nominated by 29%, up 60% from the previous year. Google Chromecast – which is driven by a connected mobile device – was used by 24%, an increase of 75% from the previous year. Xbox and PlayStation were used by 20% of respondents but showed a much more modest year-over-year increase of 14%.
The biggest challenge for video voice search remains convincing consumers that the technology is ready for primetime. Of those people that do not use video voice search, almost half believe it is a gimmick. 28% said they are uncomfortable talking into a device, 18% tried it but the device didn’t recognize their commands, and 15% said the results were inaccurate.
Smart speakers grow in importance
One new trend is the integration of video services with smart speaker technology like Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. An Amazon Echo can drive services such as Amazon Prime Video, Dish Network Hopper DVRs, and Hallmark Movies after adding a service skill from the Alexa skills library.
The CTA estimates that nearly 40 million smart speakers were sold in the U.S. in 2018. Amazon has the biggest share of the market, with 62% share. However, Amazon is losing share to Google Home, which is owned by 27% of smart speaker owners. One interesting feature of the market is that consumers don’t buy more than one brand of smart speaker. According to Parks Associates, 97% of smart speaker owners have only one brand.
However, though smart speakers are being embraced by consumers, it is not clear how important they are for controlling the video experience. Adobe reports that top uses of the devices are listening to music, getting the weather forecast, and asking fun questions. Emerging uses for the device include asking for directions, smart home commands, and shopping.
For video providers, ensuring integration with connected TV voice search services is a better investment than developing a skill for a smart speaker platform.