Google Home Serves Corona Beer Promotion Based on Location Data and Local Inventory Feed – EXCLUSIVE

Yesterday while working on research for our upcoming Voice SEO report, something interesting happened. I asked my device “OK Google, where can I buy beer near me?” It then responded that I could buy beer at my local Target and then provided a specific product recommendation:

Okay a few nearby stores have that. First there’s Target Washington 0.2 miles away. They have Corona Extra Imported Beer, 12 bottles for $14.99. You can also add it to your shopping list or get directions to the store.

So, not only did it provide a location like I expected, it also let me know that there was a specific promotion for Corona happening. It then also could have helped me further by adding it to my shopping list or giving me directions so I could easily go pick up a cold 12-pack. My colleague, Bret Kinsella, tried the experiment with his Google Home, and it also informed him of the same special on Corona at his local Target. He then asked where he could find a store that sold chips and where he could buy a smartphone nearby. Again, Google provided specific store and product information as you can see in the video below.

Using Google’s Local Product Feed Tool to Drive Awareness – Not an Advertisement

It is worth noting that none of these options were actually on sale or part of a special promotion. Google Assistant was simply accessing the information from its knowledge graph, specifically the local product feed tool. During the holiday season of 2017, Google announced a slew of new tools to help shoppers find specific items near them. One of these was launching local inventory on the Google Assistant. That 12-pack of Corona might not be the cheapest in my area, but Target, Walmart and others have taken advantage of the new features to drive sales and awareness of their products.

Voicebot was also able to confirm through industry sources that this is not viewed by Google as an ad since it was not paid exposure. This is simply a feature of Google search that retailers can take advantage of by exposing some of their on-hand inventory to search queries. With that said, retailers were mentioned along with specific brands of beer, chips, and cell phones complete with price information. That is at least a promotion and many users may consider it an ad whether it is technically paid for or not. Nonetheless, it is important to distinguish this from paid ads that show up in Google Home and Google Assistant searches for travel as discovered by Voicebot and from voice-enabled ads running on Spotify and Pandora.

Listen Up Retailers, Voice Search is Better for Product Promotion

It is also important to note that when I tried the experiment on my smartphone, Google Assistant provided the same recommendation. However, when I did the same search on my browser, it simply listed three stores near me that sell beer. It seems that voice search could be more lucrative for local retailers than search via text on a web browser.

Google Assistant on smartphone vs. web browser asking the same product question

The Future of Voice Advertising?

This form of promotion could be one way brands and retail stores can take advantage of the convenience and ease of voice to promote their products. The promotion was not intrusive because it was information I had actually asked for. It actually felt like my Google Home was helping me out, not spamming me. It also had my full attention when I asked the question. This one-on-one conversation is extremely valuable to not only brands but to the retailers as well. A majority of smart speaker owners (52%) are also open to receiving information about deals, sales, and promotions from brands through their device.

This form of promotion could be the future of not only voice advertising but local advertising as well. It could be extremely lucrative as mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text-related searches.

In addition, this promotion format is similar to the advertisements consumers used to get with their local newspaper or circulars. These have lost some of their potency as digital media has reduced physical newspaper subscriptions. It has always been a challenge for local retailers to get the attention of consumers to promote specific discounted items without them setting foot in the physical store. Voice assistants could change that.

Advertising Promotions Based on Location Data

The only information my Google Home needed to give me this information was my location data and the retailer to connect their product availability information to Google’s local product feed. In addition, the ad represents a format that consumers are already comfortable with.

A recent study from Microsoft found that respondents said they were willing to share personal data for a discount and their home address for concierge based services. I would put getting information about an item you’re specifically looking for and directions to the location align well with both of these categories. This experiment proves that voice search is a significant opportunity for both retailers and brands. The next time someone asks me, “So What’s the big deal with voice?” I will reference this experiment. If you want a standard location answer, type it. If you want specific, helpful product information, ask for it. If you are a retailer and want some free product promotion in response to Google Assistant queries, connect to the product availability information tool.

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