Google brings local lead generation to Google Assistant and Google Home

Google is bringing new forms of local search to the Google Assistant and Google Home. The company announced it’s working with local home service providers “like HomeAdvisor and Porch.”
On any platform where Google Assistant is available, users will be able to ask for contractors (e.g., “Ok Google find me a plumber”). That initiates a structured interaction which generates a lead or contact with a local service provider.
In the case of IAC-owned HomeAdvisor, which now also owns Angie’s List, users can ask to be connected by phone at the end of the process to a contractor or receive a list of relevant, pre-screened contractors. The following graphic depicts part of the user experience and the structured Q&A that’s used to refine the lead.
This is a highly structured local search and lead-generation experience that will bypass conventional search results (i.e., business listings). Google said the new functionality would be rolling out in the next week or so.

Google itself offers local lead generation for contractors

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Report: Smart speaker owners increasingly using them instead of typing or swiping

Unlike VR headsets or wearables, smart speakers are rapidly emerging as a mass market technology platform. The latest to document relatively high satisfaction and usage of these devices is call-tracking and analytics company Invoca.
Earlier this year, Invoca surveyed 1,000 people in the US who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home device. The survey asked questions about current behavior and a range of hypothetical scenarios.
The company found that people use smart speakers more frequently over time, with 89 percent using them daily. Here’s a more detailed usage breakdown:

33 percent of owners said they used the devices more than five times daily.
28 percent used them four to five times a day.
24 percent used them two to three times a day.

In addition, 58 percent of respondents said that they used assistants to “accomplish tasks they used to do through typing or swiping.” So there’s some substitution going on, and there’s apparently an appetite for more.
By some estimates, Amazon controls

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Google Assistant now offering a wide range of games for kids and families

The battle of the smart speakers and home assistants is in full swing. And both Amazon and Google think that gaming and fun will help provide a competitive edge.
Amazon introduced Echo Buttons, which enable families to play Alexa-based games together, in September. Today Google announced a trove of games for families and kids: “[T]he Google Assistant now has more than 50 new games, activities and stories designed for families with kids.” They include trivia, musical chairs, storytelling and more.
Games for Google Assistant are available on Home devices, smartphones and other devices where the Assistant is available. This is also where Google seeks to compete, as a platform across more devices (“ambient computing”) than Amazon can offer.
Google has also made it possible to personalize the Assistant for kids under 13. Home devices can recognize up to six different voices. Accordingly, kids can use the same devices as their parents, but the Assistant will recognize the child’s voice and offer

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Report: Google to debut ‘Home Mini’ smart speaker for $49 on October 4

Google is set to reveal the Pixel 2 smartphone and potentially other hardware at an event on October 4, in time for holiday shopping. While the Pixel 2 is set to be the star of the event, a prominent supporting role will be played by the new “Google Home Mini.”
This is apparently Google’s answer to the low-cost Amazon Echo Dot. According to Droid Life, it will be priced comparably at $49 and be available in three colors.

Image credit: Droid Life
The device will support the Google Assistant and reportedly will provide the same functionality as Google Home. It’s all but certain the sound quality won’t be as good. And there may be other hardware compromises to bring costs down. It will very likely broaden the market for Google Home and the Google Assistant.
Amazon has created multiple Alexa devices for different budgets:

Dot — $49
Echo Tap — $129
Echo — $179
Echo Show — $229

Amazon often discounts the devices and offers multiple purchase

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Walmart offering voice shopping via Google Assistant and Home

Google and Walmart have announced a partnership to bring Walmart voice shopping to the Google Assistant and Google Home. Free delivery will also be available through Google Express, which is changing its pricing structure.
Though not discussed in either company’s blog post, the move is likely a response to Amazon voice shopping via Alexa devices. It’s also part of Walmart’s efforts to increase its e-commerce business and reach new audiences.
The initial use case will be product reordering, but beyond that, Walmart intends to use its data to make personalized shopping recommendations based on purchase history. The company also has ambitious plans for voice shopping and offline fulfillment:
One of the primary use cases for voice shopping will be the ability to build a basket of previously purchased everyday essentials. That’s why we decided to deeply integrate our Easy Reorder feature into Google Express. This will enable us to deliver highly personalized shopping recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases, including those

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[Podcast] The Google I/O 2017 recap: Lens, Assistant & more

The Google news was fast and furious last week, with numerous announcements coming from its annual developers’ conference, Google I/O 2017. The latest episode of our Marketing Land Live podcast offers a look back at some of the bigger announcements that will impact online marketers.
Much of the focus was on Google Assistant, the company’s smart/virtual assistant that originally powered Google Home devices and has since expanded to Android phones and — as of last week — the iPhone, too. Google made a number of updates to Assistant’s capabilities, including an interesting tie-in with yet another new Google product called Google Lens. That’s an AI-powered visual search tool that turns your smartphone camera into a pretty powerful search box.
We have audio explaining these new developments directly from last Wednesday’s Google I/O keynote, featuring Google CEO Sundar Pichai, along with Scott Huffman and Rishi Chandra.
This episode runs a little more than 15 minutes. You can listen here or use

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Google Assistant comes to iPhone, adds alerts, hands-free calling & more

Google Assistant was one of the stars of Wednesday’s keynote at I/O 2017. It’s gained a number of new features and expanded beyond its Android-based roots.
As expected, Google is making Assistant available on the iPhone, where it’ll compete with Apple’s built-in Siri — the original smartphone assistant — and Microsoft’s Cortana, which has its own iOS app. Assistant will be a standalone app that’s compatible with iPhones running iOS 9.1 or better.
Assistant is also getting a number of new features that I’ll describe below.
Notifications: Home will alert users when it has important information to share, beginning with things like traffic delays, flight statuses and reminders. The device won’t talk on its own but will light up when an alert is ready — much like the Alexa notifications that Amazon just announced for its devices.
Type to Assistant: Recognizing that not every situation is appropriate for talking out loud, users will be able to communicate with Assistant by typing

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Siri is Google’s nearest mobile search competitor [Report]

A new study from Fivesight Research, “US Consumer Search Preferences Smartphone & Desktop: Q1 2017,” finds that Siri is the mobile “search engine” of choice after Google. The study was based on a survey of 800 US adults split roughly evenly between iOS and Android users.
Google was by far the dominant mobile search engine, with an 84 percent aggregate share among respondents. Among Android users, Google’s search share was 90 percent. Among iPhone owners Google had a 78 percent share. After Google, however, Siri was named by more respondents as their “primary search engine” than Bing or Yahoo. (However, this doesn’t reflect query volume, just identification as the primary engine of choice.)

Siri was the primary search engine of 13 percent of iPhone owners. This finding is significant because it suggests the long-term, potentially disruptive impact of voice and virtual assistants on traditional “query in a box” results. It’s important to point out, however, that these responses reflect

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Why the future is all about PASO — personal assistant search optimization

Personal assistants (PAs) aren’t just digital assistants that can be used to perform routine tasks. They’re also the future of SEO.
Consider two of the most popular PAs: Siri and Google Assistant. People often use those assistants to retrieve information.
And where do you think those PAs get that information from? Somewhere on the web.
Here’s what you need to know about how PAs will shape the future of SEO, and why I’m calling this a new category, personal assistant search optimization (PASO).
They’re on smartphones
Personal digital assistants are great because they’re portable. The reason they’re portable is that they’re on smartphones (though they can also be in home devices, computers and any device connected to the “Internet of Things”).
Siri, of course, has been part of the iOS smartphone platform for several years now. Likewise, Google Assistant is available on the Allo app, Google Pixel and other Android phones and Android Wear.
Portable PAs give people the ability to use their assistants, hands-free, to

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Google Assistant might take weeks to reach your Android phone

Excited to get Google Assistant on your Android phone? You might have to hang in there. While Google Assistant officially rolled out this week to phones beyond Google’s own Pixel, the company says it might take a few weeks to reach your device.
Google Assistant is Google’s new digital assistant to take on the likes of Siri. It allows you to easily speak what you want and get back answers. It’ll even have a conversation with you and complete some actions like movie ticket bookings, when all goes well. When it doesn’t go well, you might prefer to do a regular Google search.
Until this week, the only smartphones with Google Assistant were Google’s own Pixels. However, the company announced earlier this week that smartphones running Android 6 or Android 7 would get Google Assistant.
That rollout started yesterday. Meanwhile, my Galaxy S7 Edge and my Moto G4 Play stare at me Google Assistant-less, asking what’s up. That’s even despite my Galaxy S7 taking

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