Google Now on Tap Shows Advances in Contextual Proactive Features

Over the past couple of weeks both Google and Apple have had their developer conferences. During these events they both rolled out some significant enhancements. The biggest one that I think is important for digital marketers was the advances made in contextual proactive features. For Google it was the update to Google Now, to Google Now on Tap. Apple rolled out their competitor called Proactive Assistant. Both features I think have some key implications to the way users will navigate not only apps, but also the web. Today we’ll focus on Google Now on Tap and the two implications to search marketers.

What Is Google Now on Tap?

This upgrade to Google Now is pretty significant. Today you can get proactive alerts about your flights, driving times to work, or shipping updates based on various data inputs Google has from Gmail to your search behavior. This update takes Google’s features onto all content, across all screens.

Take the below example where a song is playing. The user would tap the home button and ask “Who’s the lead singer?” Google knows what song is playing and uses that context to provide an answer without leaving the music app. The same for text messages, asking about a specific restaurant by pulling up directions, reservations, and reviews. This update makes it much simpler for users to get information without interrupting the specific experience they are in at the time.



The Implications for Search Marketers

1. The Importance of App and Search Engine Optimization

These changes reinforce the need for organic optimization of both apps and websites. Google will be providing deep links into apps that may help revive apps that were once downloaded and then forgotten. A Compuware study stated that 80-90 percent of apps are downloaded only to be used once. These product enhancements should provide new life to those apps, but only assuming the information is available to be searched. Also, Google will be looking to pull answers from your content via the web.

As a search marketer you should be asking yourself if you have content that addresses the way your consumers seek information about your products. Do they always search for information about how to choose the right size, or how to return a product? Do you have content that serves these specific purposes and is optimized to deliver on that intent? Too often search engine optimization for both the web and apps are taken for granted.

2. Bringing Searches Away from Apps into Google

Google has been struggling for a way to keep searches out of specific apps like Yelp. Not only were they losing out on search volume and the potential ad revenue associated with that search, but also the additional data that came along with that search. With Google Now on Tap those searches will come back into the fold. Google can then dictate the specific user experience it wants to provide. That can be from their own knowledge graph or from partnerships they develop with Uber, Yelp, Twitter, etcetera. I expect to see search volume increase from Google, especially for searches with a specific question or context clue included (time of day, weather, location, etc…)

Search marketers should look to ensure their user experience delivers on these specific searches and isn’t a blanket approach that drives all users to the same experience. If someone searches for a specific location or asks for a phone number don’t take them to the same homepage regardless. Understand the context and create the proper experience that meets the consumer expectation. While there are currently no direct ad opportunities with this update, the ability to control the experience and have additional data will allow those decisions to monetize much easier should they make that decision in the future.


I’m excited by this update. The innovation continues to prove innovations in search will continue to be driven by mobile devices and the additional context clues they can provide. The fundamentals still exist A) to ensure you can value mobile so that you don’t miss an opportunity, B) Create search campaigns that deliver value based on the consumers expectations. If they want a local experience don’t force them through eCommerce, and vice versa.

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