A Siri-ous change to the way we search for brands

January 30, 2012

Landor staff
Siri represents a dramatic experiential and behavioral shift in how we will find, engage, recommend, and ultimately buy brands

With the holiday gift giving season now fully in the rearview mirror, many people, including myself, got an up-close introduction to a new friend—Siri, Apple’s new iOS voice control app, that is beginning to transform the iPhone’s navigation and provide a glimpse into an entirely new realm of search and discovery.

As with most groundbreaking products, it is fascinating to watch people’s initial reaction to Siri:

Press the "home" button, and she appears, “what can I help you with?”

You say, “how many players are on cricket team?” And after a pause her somewhat monotone voice exclaims, “okay, I’m on it."

Then a recommendation: “Okay—how about we search the web for 'how many players on a cricket team’?"

The link appears, you click on it and PRESTO—the answer is 11! 

Revolutionary? Yes. A bit clunky, still? Sure. But more important than how Siri works in its infancy (which Apple will no doubt improve through iterative updates) is that Siri represents a dramatic experiential and behavioral shift in how we will find, engage, recommend, and ultimately buy brands we know well, possibly want to know, or still don’t know at all. 

To be sure, voice recognition apps, though new to the scene, are poised to transform the modern-day consumer journey, creating a curated brand experience that will provide new opportunities for launching, promoting, and growing brands into the future. In the process, many industries will be transformed…

What’s on the menu? Not, menus!

Think for a second about how we traditionally watch TV. For years we knew what time and network a program was on (ie: 60 Minutes, Sunday night at 7pm on CBS Channel 2) and largely scheduled our evening around that. "The networks" used to refer to this as "event programming" in the '90s. Then with the advent of TiVo and the DVR, we moved into a world that allowed viewers to record and watch their shows whenever they wanted. With this, “time shifted” viewing became the norm to the point that recently Nielsen announced that today only 30 percent of all TV viewing is done live—30 percent!!! Now layer on Siri as a curated voice-driven search app and we have a whole new ballgame.

For instance, not too far in the multi-screen future, every content provider (ie: Apple, Amazon, GoogleTV, Comcast, CBS, Direct TV, Hulu) will utilize voice apps to serve up all forms of programs and over time, build in intelligence about what individuals are likely to want to watch and when. Moreover, the need for traditional on-screen menus and guides to aggregate and display programs, as well as the remote control, will virtually disappear. That’s right, no more menus, and for that matter many electronics manufacturers are preparing for the day when remote controls will be relegated to the ash heap of TV viewing history. While all of this may seem futuristic, it is in fact happening today and will be in our living rooms in the coming years.

Finally, all of the above imagines a world where Siri exists as a one-way search and discovery tool—you ask it to complete a task ie: "where is the train station?") it returns the answer and then stops. But Siri and future voice control apps are actually destined to become smart and bi-directional– continuously querying what you might need or want based on, for example, your GPS location (are you at home, at school, at work?) and in conjunction with your past behavior and preferences. All of this portends something similar to Amazon’s recommendation engine joining forces with Rosie from the Jetsons.

And for branding types like us, the inevitable and much deeper question is—to what degree will individual brands employ voice apps (of all flavors) across their respective digital gateways, promotions, and advertising? If Google search can be sponsored, why can’t Siri?

Further, what if Siri is customized to match your programming? Imagine a world where after voting on American Idol you can go to the "My Coke Rewards" site to download a Steven Tyler or JLo voice app to help navigate your Idol media life for the season ahead. 

Dream on…dream on…dream until your dream comes true…

Category: Digital & social media
Choose one:
Share Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInEmail