How AI will shape the future of search

Artificial intelligence is changing the way users access information online. Columnist Justin Freid discusses where the trends are heading and what this might mean for marketers.

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There is no doubt the search industry has evolved. Just one look at how search engine results pages are currently laid out shows how things have changed. We have come a long way from 10 blue links.

But have we gone far enough? At SXSW earlier this month, information access was a hot topic. People no longer head to Google’s search bar as their only way of accessing content.

How we access information is changing

Search engines used to be the primary (or sole) place a consumer would turn to when they needed an immediate answer. You entered in a phrase, clicked a link and read the page.

But now, there are other places we are spending out time. In fact, the average consumer spends over 40 minutes a day on YouTube and 35 minutes on Facebook. We get our news from peers on social networks and can even consult WebMD about our health through Amazon’s Alexa AI.

Most recently, Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, called Amazon the biggest threat to Google. When you think about it, if you are past research mode and want to buy something immediately, you will often bypass Google and head directly to Amazon.

The way results are presented to us is different

No longer are we dependent on a list of links. AI assistants across the board have changed the way content is presented back to the end user. From Siri and Cortana to Alexa, each answers your questions or searches in a unique way. Whether it is voice search or simply using the internal search function on your iPhone, results look different and include things we don’t normally consider traditional “search results,” such as apps, emails, social comments from peers and so on.

Chatbots are also becoming more and more popular. Another huge topic at SXSW, many brands are utilizing chatbots to present information to consumers as quickly as possible. Instead of sifting through content on a website, chatbots will allow the consumer to enter specific questions and get their response immediately. This process would potentially replace the need to search in a traditional manner.

How we search will be different

Depending on how we engage, the AI platform will shape how we search. Whether it is longer-tailed queries through voice commands or short queries entered on a mobile device, the questions we ask are shifting. There is also potential for the AI to live in new places. As the smart home evolves and becomes more affordable, AI has the potential to be accessed throughout your home and car. It could become second nature to utilize AI to access information throughout your day.

As marketers, we need to turn to AI as part of our strategy

Many readers of MarTech Today, like me have begun to consider how these new developments and technologies will affect the way we advertise and attract new customers for our clients. While there are not clear-cut paid media opportunities integrated with each AI platform, many companies, such as Amazon, have discussed monetizing theirs.

As marketers, we need to begin thinking outside of bulk sheets containing thousands of keywords and begin thinking about how the consumer mindset will shift and the new behaviors that will come along with the mass adoption of artificial intelligence.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Justin Freid
Justin Freid is a digital marketing veteran with over 12+ years of experience helping some of the largest brands in the world leverage the digital landscape to connect with their target audiences. Currently leading the SEM, SEO and social media teams at CMI Media, a WPP Company, Justin helps pharmaceutical companies create and execute digital strategies. With experience in industries such as finance, insurance, pharma and CPG, Justin brings a unique approach to clients. His expertise across all facets of digital marketing creates an interconnectivity between efforts, leading customers further along down the conversion funnel.

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