The Future of Search: Keywords or Captures?
Searching. It’s a pretty big topic and I sure don’t claim to be an expert. However, I am looking at how the concept of search is evolving and I see some trends that will be changing the game. Significantly. Not so much whether we will use Google, Bing, or some other browser, but how we search.
How we search is shifting. Keywords, search phrases, and social media is grudgingly giving way to new forms of searching. We already have spoken searches from a variety of applications. Again, I am not an expert and I might be missing some huge players here, but as a brand marketer, I see these things and wonder. How will search change in the coming years? What’s here now?
What Is “Capture” Searching?
Capture searches, or searching based on captured data, is not new. One of the best examples of this is Shazam. This fantastic little smart phone app listens to music or other sounds and searches for it. Ever hear a snippet of a song on a TV show, in a store, or on the radio? Launching the app and holding it up can not only get you the artist and title, but also allow you to download it from a variety of vendors. While this has been around for a while, and there are many competitors that even handle humming a tune, the bigger factor is the medium of the search.
The medium of the search is what’s critical. You are searching based on a piece of captured data. Sound isn’t the only data that can be captured. What about images? Visual searching, in my opinion, will be fully mainstream very soon. What I mean by visual searching is using an image captured from a mobile device to capture the search criteria. For example, you’re walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago and need to find the closest Starbucks. You see a bus shelter with a Starbucks poster and snap a picture of the logo. Your mobile device then presents you with a map with the surrounding locations.
That kind of visual search seem too far fetched? Nope. Look at Google Goggles, Get Fugu, or other mobile search options. From logos to works of art, visual searching is here and floating just below our radars. Just like QR codes were this time last year. And just as scanning QR codes will be a cultural gateway into visual searches, Shazam will be a gateway to the other kind of searching. Video.
Just like holding your Shazam app up to the speaker of your car, video searching may end up having us holding up mobile devices to our screens. How far of a stretch is it to capture video via mobile device and identify the movie, place the actors, or perhaps purchase the flick from a vendor? There are some new contenders to this field, such as VideoSurf, but how far out is a wonder-search app like this? I have no idea, but the question then gets turned from “how cool is this” to “how will this impact my business?”
Keyword search (typed or spoken) is what’s driving the mindset of the vast majority of businesses or brands. We use it for SEO, we use it to check the competition, and it is so ingrained into our collective psyches it will be a challenge to look beyond. Every industry will be different, but how will a shift to Capture Searching change your brand’s position in the marketplace? What can you do to move beyond keyword descriptions to better position your brand?
Admittedly not an expert in the field of searching, (Shannon Steffen is my recommendation for an expert), I would love to know your thoughts! What am I missing or what have I overlooked?