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Epiphany Search

Last Wednesday, we welcomed the team at Microsoft Bing to Epiphany’s HQ to join us in a panel debate discussing Bing’s views on the future of search.

Ellie England and Aaron McGrath from the Bing Ads Strategic Sales team, joined our Director of Performance Chris Rowett, and Director of Search Meghan Burton in a lively panel debate that took place only hours after Microsoft announced news of their LinkedIn acquisition.

Undoubtedly, the key talking topic was the rise of personal device use and how this is affecting consumer behaviour and impacting on us as digital marketers.

Here, we sum up the key takeaways from what was a hugely insightful session.

1. “Voice search is the greatest opportunity in search right now”

Voice activated search was the biggest opportunity Aaron McGrath at Bing Ads identified in search right now. Talking about the growth of mobile search, Aaron emphasised the importance of preparing for it now before it’s too late.

Searching using voice is a different behaviour. Aaron also commented, “It’s amazing how many people say please and thank you when they’re talking to Cortana!! Brands needs to consider the impact of conversational search and how to adapt their strategies to ensure they have visibility for the searches performed through voice as well as conventional search.

The growing trend is apparent, with the biggest technology companies taking clear steps towards facilitating and encouraging voice activated search. We’re also seeing an increase in the volume of conversational searches, with search phrases such as “OK Google” demonstrating the rapid rise.

2. “There will become a point when we don’t even have to search anymore”

This was the forecast from Chris Rowett during a discussion surrounding the growth in predictive search.

With so much consumer data available to advertisers, the ability to personalise adverts even right down to the optimum time they are displayed; means that the necessity for users to physically search for what they want is becoming less and less.

Predictive search works best when consumer data can be brought together from a number of various sources and channels, meaning that there’s a huge opportunity for online publishers to integrate and work together to serve content.

Chris Rowett commented, “It’s about understanding the intent of the customer. How can you tell if they have essentially ‘entered the market’ for your product from their behaviour before they’ve actively searched for something?”

3. “Ad blockers are a good thing”

Aaron McGrath explained that ad blocking forces advertisers to be much more considerate about the ads they’re serving.

With the amount of data marketers have today on consumer’s online behaviour and purchasing habits, advertising can be more relevant, timely and personalised than ever, hugely maximising spend efficiency.

“Naturally, if an ad isn’t relevant to the user it’s being served to and it’s intrusive, they will be annoyed by it and more inclined to want to block it. So it’s on our heads as advertisers and media owners to ensure that we’re using the data we have access to responsibly and cleverly to ensure ads are well targeted, engaging and fit well with the context in which they’re being displayed.”

Not only is this better for the user, but it’s better for us as advertisers too, it means spend isn’t wasted on impressions that would never convert.  

4. “Companies will have security as a USP in the future”

We’re moving towards an age where users are encouraged to provide more and more of their personal data to make life easier. For example, allowing browsers and personal devices to save credit card information to make purchasing online much quicker and easier or simply by having location turned on mobile devices.

The rise of ad blocking technology in recent months indicates that some consumers are aware of the unwanted effects of sharing their data in the form of obtrusive or irrelevant advertising.

Aaron McGrath commented that it is right for people to be protective about some data, for example financial information, and that people need to have confidence about how this data is being used.

With users being encouraged to exchange more data, the concern around how this data is being used will grow and this will mean that companies will be forced to explain exactly what they do with personal data or what the value exchange is.

Chris Rowett predicted that in the near future, those companies who take steps to ensure the security of their users’ data will have the advantage over their competitors, as users will start to be much more sensitive about where their data is going.