Voice search may be in its infancy, as reflected by the low priority marketers currently give the technology, yet new research suggests it has the potential to be far more powerful than traditional search.

According to Jason Miller, head of brand marketing at Microsoft Advertising, the research from Microsoft Bing sought to examine how pervasive voice search is and the potential opportunity for advertisers and marketers.

He used a blog post on the Bing Ads portal to explain that a survey of 1,000 consumers and 150 marketers found that Britons currently use voice search 2.4 times a day, rising to 3.8 times a day among young consumers aged 18 to 24.

A quarter of consumers want to be able to use voice search more often for more types of search and they also prefer voice search at times when they are away from their computer, the survey also revealed.

Stated benefits include speed (44%), the technology’s modern feel (34%) and the sense it is less effort than text search (31%). What’s more, a quarter of consumers (24%) say they wouldn’t be surprised to receive a targeted ad via voice search.

“This isn’t a short-term trend. This is the future of search and has the potential to significantly enhance search, in its current guise,” Miller wrote.

“Voice search is changing the way consumers think about search – and as the interface changes, so too does consumer behaviour. We would encourage brands to recognise this shift and integrate it into their marketing processes,” he added.

Yet it appears that marketers are not doing this at the moment because the survey found that just 2% of marketing budgets are allocated to voice search, while a third (34%) of marketers regard the medium as a “fad”.

And when asked to rank marketing channels in order of importance, marketers placed voice search seventh out of eight, with only radio considered less important.

However, Miller continued, there are strong signs that marketers are becoming more aware of the potential of voice search because 17% of them expect to increase their voice search budgets over the next 12 months.

And almost two-thirds (60%) also agree that the emergence of voice search could help strengthen the marketing mix, while a third (34%) think voice could even replace desktop search in the future.

“The very nature of voice means that pre-existing keyword-led strategies need to be revised, broadened and entirely reconsidered,” said Miller.

“The process may seem daunting, but with voice search expected to play just as significant role in our lives as mobile now does, the early investment is set to yield significant dividends.”

Sourced from Microsoft Advertising, Bing Ads; additional content by WARC staff