Voice assistants are increasingly changing the way Indians search for information via their mobiles, new research shows.

And the biggest driver of growth in the mobile sector is the ability of users to search and consume content in their own language, according to the Mobile Marketing Ecosystem Report 2020 from the Mobile Marketing Association and GroupM.

Some 90% of new internet users during the next five years are likely to prefer using regional languages to access online information and entertainment, the report said.

Voice commands already account for 25% of internet searches, and 38% of users who have responded in some way to voice ads say they find them less intrusive than other forms of ads.

The launch of a multilingual function for Amazon’s Alexa, late last year, now allows users to issue commands in Hindi. And Google Assistant says Hindi is already the second-most-used language for voice commands globally.

“Soon, these are bound to create a level playing field for the customer to initiate voice commands in vernacular languages,” the report predicts. “As of 2017, 68% of internet users preferred digital content to be in the local language, believing that it adds to its overall credibility,” it adds.

It’s estimated that there will be between 650 million and 700 million smartphone users in India by 2023, and it’s forecast voice and audio will continue to drive a profound change in the way consumers interact with their devices.

The authors note that, in response to this evolution, brands have begun to leverage audio technology to target their audience. And as voice assistants become available in multiple languages, the customer base has inevitably widened and opened new markets.

“Since voice assistants purely work based on user intent, they have now evolved into more than mere information touchpoints,” the report observes.

“Earlier, brands were hesitant in joining the voice revolution but now, there’s a growing awareness and understanding that voice is not just a viral trend, it is a necessity.”

Commenting on the findings, Niraj Ruparel, National Head, Mobile and Voice, Mindshare India, told the Economic Times, “Voice technology combined with Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Augmented Reality is all set to bring about a make-over to the marketing landscape as we know it.”

Sourced from GroupM, Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff