Yesterday it was announced that Apple is changing the default search engine of its Siri voice assistant web search results, as well as Spotlight on Mac, from Bing to Google. Apple statements regarding the change identify consistency as the key motivator, as it seeks to bring these results in line with those featured by default in traditional searches on Safari on iOS, where Google is already the default search provider.
Impacts to the Paid Search Landscape
While both Google and Bing have long touted impressive growth stats surrounding the rise of voice search, I’ve contended in the past that there’s little evidence that the types of voice commands and searches that are happening are currently much of a concern to most advertisers. This is because we’ve yet to see voice search meaningfully impact the types of queries driving paid and organic impressions, and because surveys such as this one show primary uses to be commands such as playing a song or calling someone rather than truly searching (though to be fair, aren’t we all truly searching?).
Perhaps the best evidence that voice search has yet to make a meaningful mark for many brands, however, is the fact that Bing has made no headway in gaining back paid search traffic from Google over the past couple of years while it has been the default search engine for Siri. In Q2, Google accounted for 97% of all US phone paid search clicks at Merkle, up from 95% last Q2.
Not only was Bing the default engine for Siri over that time, but also other voice assistants Cortana, Alexa, and Hound. And yet, Google’s mobile paid search growth continued to outpace that of Bing all the same.
There is the possibility that Google will be able to better monetize Siri queries than Bing was, but with 97% mobile paid ad traffic share, Google stands to gain very little in the way of immediate ad traffic share from its new status even if it is significantly better at monetization. Whatever the effect of this change might be, it will certainly be felt more heavily by Bing.