First of all, we can unanimously agree that digital is the future of marketing or maybe a combination of digital and traditional marketing with a greater spread of digital due to the “below the line” nature of it and the easy accessibility to all kinds of businesses - big or small. Lets have a look at the numbers too, see what they say -
- According to a recent report by Google, the FMCG industry alone is has a direct digital influence on business worth $45B which being a major part cannot be ignored or put secondary.
- Almost 80% of buying decisions start online
- With the advent of cheaper technology and internet services, penetration increases and so does visibility
- Better one-to-one connect helps decision making faster and retains longer
Thus, businesses around the world will have to re-align marketing strategies with digital at the core but this is a whole new discussion for another time. Now that we have established this, lets dig deeper into the oncoming digital trends and how will it shape the future, should companies get on it or which one to choose and many more. Traditionally, digital was driven primarily by ads, referrals or user search but recently with technology becoming more accessible and demographically widespread many other trends have followed, amongst which, the ones that have found the most traction are commonly referred to as the 3 Vs of digital - Voice, Video and Vernacular.
Each of us has some time (or on a daily basis) used voice to search something, choose a movie or play a song, watched a video to learn something or the “how to” videos or your favorite travel destination or looked up a word in our mother tongue or translated a page to a local language for better reference.
Recently, I had been invited as a panelist for a leadership roundtable on which is arguably the biggest V now or in the near future. I was there to present from an internet based business’s perspective. It was enlightening on what everyone had to say about this in context with their own businesses.
**Since most of our readers are based in India, numbers used here are mostly in the Indian context for better understanding
A study by Forester research states that nearly 54 percent Indian population uses at least one wearable device out of which a whopping 30 percent use a smart TV (surprising but that’s true!), 16 percent use a voice assistant speaker like Alexa powered Amazon Echo devices or Google Assistant driven Google Home, 36 percent use smart home devices like Internet connected home audio systems, lighting or thermostats. You would be surprised to know some facts
- Out of all search volume 28% is voice search across internet in india
- Hindi searches are increasing by 400% year on year and this vernacular search is led primarily by voice enabled devices
- With the advent of Jio powered internet accessibility, most searches from the rural areas come as voice searches (in hindi)
- With urban population and the little time they can spare, voice search provides the flexibility of multitasking
- Almost every device shipped today is voice search enabled in some form or the other (and majority of them are voice first) so it is only a matter of time before that picks up as the primary source of search
- With technology access demographic expands with including children, elderly and modestly educated it will only be into the voice search vertical
USP of voice search - highly targeted search as mostly driven by long tail keywords
But even with such widespread coverage, voice searches are still largely limited to playing songs or video, setting alarms, information consumption for indian users and how much transaction happens over voice and how will it be driven is still unclear and at a very nascent stage. Marketers including me believe that voice will stay limited as step 1 of the user journey until we find a way to get the whole journey onto voice. The future is also largely dependant on future content built with more refined use cases and localised experiences.
The massive scale achieved by Youtube, hotstar but particularly Tiktok directly imply the preference of video over other formats of content consumption in India. In fact we can deduce the oncoming trend from the fact that Indian video content delivery platforms are rising at over twice the rate of their global counterparts. Some industries have almost ubiquitously moved to video content consumption like entertainment, news, marketing, edutech, social networking and some more. Studies show users are likely to engage more with recommended content than search driven content (seems so true when I think it now!).
- 87 percent of companies used video as their medium of digital marketing in 2019
- 76 percent of B2C content is video
- By 2022, video will make up
- Video has a higher engagement rate and higher retention too
In fact 38% of engagement on the internet is recommendation based and not search driven and the number is ever increasing. Now since most recommendations are in the form of video, we can safely assume that video engagement is going to increase and retain more imapct too
Think of it, how many of us reading this have watched a video today or not.
Companies have already developed image syntacting tools with as much as 95 percent accuracy so it is only a matter of time (and internet speed) that video potentially replaces all search. Its not very far ahead that videos and images may identify personal identities, destinations, image textual content and many more but having said that all that would still depend on the fact that if it appeals to the people.
USP of video - higher engagement and leverages recommendation based engaagement too, can be built into transactional too
Food for thought - With the progress we make in artificial intelligence, entertainment moves from a one-way delivery to an interactive environment. Sounds interesting...right!
As Rajan Anandan stated, “Today, there is a 50 per cent probability that if you are showing an English ad, the person who is watching it does not understand it” due to the higher penetration of internet beyond the english speaking minority.
- Hindi searches are increasing by 400% year on year
- Common trend is increasing mobile platform as the preferred medium of content consumption - more personalised content requirements
- Variety of surveys reveal that people prefer recommended content over searched content implying that content moderation and personalization will be a key online content preference going forward.
- Vernacularity, irrespective comes forward as an indispensible key for all search mediums. Localisation is the key for every medium be it video, voice or text
- For India, vernacularity has to be incorporated in strategies in tandem with other Technical SEO strategies like mobile optimisation, micro search formats like video or voice and quality content of course
- With technology access demographic expands with including children, elderly and modestly educated it will only be into the voice search vertical and in vernacular platforms
- A very popular online news platform states that 90 percent users of their app in India and 60 percent Indian smartphone users are consuming content in their Mother's tongue
USP - reach to first time users and that too a loyal bunch, higher personalization appeal.
Based on the above research, one can conclude that voice, video and vernacular is only the delivery medium while content is still the key. The focus should invariably be content while delivery medium can be decided and optimised for based on the business vision, the target demography, infra available etc.
To conclude, one cannot define a fixed strategy that applies to all yet as
all of these mediums are still growing and while we know for sure that each of this will grow exponentially in the near future, we cant say which of this will have a better accpetance among the target user with respect to their buying decision. The end user’s ruling will be the one to follow :)
While each of the above are effective in different niches, it would be wrong to say that on medium working for a certain business will also work for the other hence it is an individual decision for each business based on the current and their target user demographic.
Reiterating that this is a business specific decision, presenting my perspective that should hold true for a majority of businesses -
While content being at the helm of it, voice, video and vernacular is only a delivery (read search) medium and depends on the type of business and objective
Voice could be helpful to companies looking for advertising and branding
Video is meant for engagement and hence conversions so could be applicable to almost all consumer ended businesses and some B2B businesses too.
Vernacular is a content requirement and should be exclusively undertaken if need be.
About the writer (Sajal Agarwal)
An entrepreneur at heart and a definite problem solver. Once an armed forces aspirant now helps innovative businesses realize there goals as an independent consultant. While he is not working he likes to dabble into a bit of writing about business and self help. His writing is inspired mostly by the questions he had while growing up so that people with similar questions in mind might learn from them. Believes in building a nation through startups and innovations and hence actively involves as a Consultant, Investor, speaker and mentor. Believe it or not, he is also a trained tea blender and makes a mean cup. Tweet to him at @realSajal.