Our curiosity about the world is driving increasing pressure on both brands and technology. But why do we ask questions? What drives us to continually seek out answers? It’s one of those big entities that still confounds scientists.
It is widely believed that curiosity comes from an internal drive, something that originates within us. It’s a naturally occurring urge, a bit like thirst or hunger, which we satisfy in a similar way. When we’re hungry, we eat. When we’re curious, we look for nuggets of inspiration to spark our imagination or answer questions.
As humans we have a lifelong interest to learn, in all manner of ways. We learn by collecting information around us. We store this away and use it to inform decisions, conversations and viewpoints in the future. When we can’t answer a question ourselves, we seek out the answer.
Searching is a natural phenomenon. How we do it and how we get our answers has just evolved. In bygone centuries, knowledge would be built on the wisdom and experiences of those around you. Today, that knowledge pool has only widened thanks to the evolution of technology.
Nowadays we expect to have all manner of information at our fingertips. We’re constantly looking for curiosity gratification. Search is second nature. It’s built into the fabric of our habits – a quick fact check online, a short sweep of social media – but also the devices we hold so dear. Smartphones have made information accessible like never before, and search technology is now enabling those devices to deliver that information in even more intuitive ways. It’s a bit like electricity; it’s all around us, we never see it, it just lights everything up.
Ultimately, consumers’ expectations of search have grown; we want more intuitive answers that are both faster and more accurate, therefore how we search for answers is changing. Rapidly. We now talk instead of type, because it’s a more natural way for us to interact with technology. We’re voicing our curiosity in new ways. Voice search, for example digital personal assistants such as Cortana, is evolving to understand user intent and context based on previous search queries to anticipate a person’s needs, – for example, suggesting examples of restaurants near a cinema where you’re heading to watch a film that night all based on your favourite cuisine.
The search evolution means marketers now face two additional challenges; figuring out how to incorporate this level of intuitive understanding into informing their marketing campaigns, and adapting their search strategies to reflect this new format of query created through voice interactions. .
As an industry, we’re in the business of human curiosity and brands are competing to best answer a consumer need. To do that, you need to understand who it is that you should be engaging. Search unlocks a wealth of data to empower marketers to build a more informed picture of their audience. Its power in giving context to curiosity cannot be underestimated. As the figures from the most recent IAB ad spend report show, paid-for search advertising now accounts for over half of total digital ad spend (51%) having risen to a record £4.35bn.
Curiosity is shaping search’s future in today’s connected world. What does this mean for brands? It creates a need to be relevant, with smart content that appears in the right place and at the right time. What does this mean for us? We’re bigger than you think.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s fuelling the fire of brand interactions today.