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Hibu says Alexa Driving SMB Interest in Voice Search

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Hibu recently joined a growing list of marketing services providers benefitting from Yext’s listings management and direct syndication of local business data to Amazon’s Alexa. I was curious about whether this is something the company is promoting and what the small business response has been.

I spoke today with Hibu’s RC Thompson. He told me that Hibu is promoting voice search/syndication and that customers are interested. He credited the consumer adoption of smart speaker devices and Echo/Alexa devices in particular for building awareness of voice search.

Many of Hibu’s small business customers have experienced or own Alexa units themselves and so are aware of how they operate. In fact, he said that these business owners are more focused on Alexa than they are on voice search on smartphones. The conversation about voice search on smartphones has been secondary to the Alexa conversation according to Thompson.

This speaks to the power and visibility of the Amazon brand as well.

In the past, it was necessary to explain and educate local businesses about new technologies or marketing channels. That was often a cumbersome process for sales reps. But that doesn’t equally seem to be the case with voice search and smart speakers. Ironically, there’s little data to suggest that Alexa or Google Home are (right now) being used in large numbers to find local business information.

Yet the grassroots demand appears to be there.

There have been numerous surveys asking about ownership and user behavior. Most recently Kantar’s TNS ReQuest survey found that 20% of US households own a smart speaker. That suggests there are something on the order of 25 million smart speakers in US homes, not considering whether homes have more than one.

This estimate is lower than others, based on smaller samples, which argue that US smart speaker ownership is between 40 and 50 million. A recent Nielsen total audience report, which focuses on media consumption and demographics, says that 19% of US adults own/use a smart speaker in their homes.

That can be extrapolated to about 47 million smart speaker owners in the US today. Many of those 40 – 50 million people are also local business owners.

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