The increased use of Digital Assistants, such as Siri and Cortana, on smart devices will provide new paid search opportunities over the next few years according to Juniper Research.

The company forecasts that over $12 billion of ad spend per annum will be made through this rapidly growing medium by 2021, an increase of over 3,000 per cent on the tiny estimated spend for 2016.

“Voice Assistants are a great opportunity to create more convenient ways to interact with devices,” said research author James Moar.“However, they need to balance the need for accurate data with consumers’ privacy needs, and this will drive changes in how digital assistants are programmed in future, in order to make the data secure and under the users’ control.”

New Platform, New Opportunities

In its new study called Digital Voice Assistants: Platforms, Revenues & Opportunities 2016-2021, Juniper said that besides integration into devices like smartphones and PCs, Assistants will be part of many home and automotive devices in future, creating new spaces for human-computer interaction.

These sectors will initially see the highest usage, paving the way for wider adoption of Assistants towards the end of the 2010s.

Improvements in artificial intelligence have led to a proliferation of programs, of which SiriGoogle Now and Cortana are the best known. There are several others, however, from Amazon to NuanceSoundHound and Vi, which will provide strong competition.

As much of the technology grew out of voice search, Juniper expects Digital Assistants to follow a similar monetisation strategy, with companies paying to provide specific targeted results.

But they often rely on data gathered about users, such as search and location history, shopping habits and demographic information, to be most relevant. This will be concerning for many, who are likely to eschew the technology for privacy and security reasons.

The whitepaper, ‘Hey Siri, How’s the Competition?’ is available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the full research.

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