Google Assistant vs. Amazon Alexa: Which Voice Assistant Offers More Opportunity for Brands?
Amazon recently reported that this year’s Amazon Prime Day became the biggest event ever for Amazon Alexa devices such as the Echo Dot and the Fire TV. Surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined, Prime Day was a massive retail event.
But, Amazon was not the only winner on this year’s Prime Day.
Large retailers saw a 64% increase in sales during Prime Day and retailers with BOPIS saw the average order go up 12% during this time. In fact, large retailers saw a 64% increase in sales on July 15th compared to an average Monday. Of the sales, smart home devices had some of the best discounts. Not only did Amazon Alexa win big but so did the Google Assistant devices during Prime Day.
The debate over which voice assistant is better has been going on for years now. From a consumer standpoint, the preferred device depends on your needs. Amazon Alexa has more skills but Google Assistant has a larger knowledge base.
However, in the 5 years since Amazon introduced the first smart speaker, we’ve learned a lot about how voice assistants work and the benefits they offer to the brands looking to reach consumers through voice. Here’s a look at the differences between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for brands.
Voice Assistant Usage
When asking which voice device offers more opportunity for brands, we first have to look at which device is being used the most. As of January 2019, 58.6% of consumers reported having used voice search and 47.2% of people believe voice search usage will rise this year. Most of those surveyed responded that the voice assistant on their smartphone is the dominant device.
When it comes to smart speakers, the Google Home makes up 24% of the global market share (except China) with Amazon Echo taking the lead at 61.5%. Yet, Loup Ventures predicts that by 2025 Google will surpass Amazon in smart speaker market share. Since 2016, Google’s smart speaker market share has increased by 17% while Amazon has decreased by over 30%.
If we look at smartphone voice assistants, Apple’s Siri holds strong at the majority share. But, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa have continued to grow over the years. Siri may have been the first smartphone voice assistant but Google and Alexa users have started to show more interest in creating a seamless voice experience across all their devices.
Comparing the Differences Between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
The Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa offer different features for consumers and successful brands will familiarize themselves with these differences.
As far as price, the devices are both affordable ranging from the free phone app to smart speakers ranging in price from $49 – $399. In addition to Amazon Prime Day, there are often sales on smart home devices with pricing as low as $25 throughout the year.
Users do not need an Amazon Prime account to use Amazon Alexa, but it does mean you can’t use voice-activated shopping or prime music. Instead, Amazon offers Pandora or the paid version of Spotify as a solution.
Both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa offer various device types. Google offers a phone assistant compatible with both Android and iPhone as well as a wide variety of smart devices in the Google Home Nest family. Offering devices with and without screens in various sizes, the Google Home lineup is very similar to that of Amazon Alexa.
Amazon also has a phone assistant app compatible with both iPhone and Android but with an average rating of only 2.5 stars (The Google Assistant is rating 4 stars) in the Apple App Store, its reliability independently of a paired smart home device is not as strong.
Comparing Skills and Actions
Skills and actions are a little different but they show the abilities of each device. An Amazon Skill is similar to an app. An example of a skill would be the Starbucks Skill where you can check your balance and order items. A Google Action is more of a command than a skill. An example of an action would be “Hey Google, turn on the lights.”
Smart Home Connections
Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa have made strategic partnerships to increase device connectivity. Google connects with over 10,000 smart devices from more than 1,000 brands. Amazon, on the other hand, has partnerships with over 7,400 unique brands and connects with more than 60,000 smart devices.
How The Google Assistant Wins
Google has access to more data than Amazon. Its search engine is the most powerful in the world which is why its accuracy is about 24% better than Amazon Alexa on average.
How Amazon Alexa Wins
Alexa connects with far more devices and skills than Google. This allows consumers to seamlessly connect and voice-command all their smart devices.
Voice Assistant Opportunities for Brands
Now that we understand how Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa differ from a consumer standpoint, let’s take a look at how they differ for brand opportunities.
Today, 67% of brands do not have any voice apps. 21.5% of brands have created Google Assistant apps while 26.5% of brands have created Alexa Apps. Of those apps, 15% of them are supported by both Google and Alexa. But when it comes to apps, voice consumers aren’t really using them.
In a recent webinar, we reported that 50% of all voice users have not enabled voice apps and only 22% of Alexa skills had more than 2 ratings.
When we look at voice apps beyond skills, Google Assistant is offering the most opportunity for brands to reach customers through voice search.
Let’s explore the data. In a recent report by Voicebot.ai, they found that Google has the most correct responses for branded and unbranded keyword searches.
When it comes to branded searches, every assistant had over 75% accuracy but Amazon failed to answer 22% of queries.
For product category searches such as “What are the best running shoes?” Google led the pack with accurate answers. Alexa often referred to Amazon.com in which it would answer questions based on consumer ratings in its own database.
When asked where a user can buy a specific product Amazon Alexa really missed the mark. In fact, only about 10% of the results given were correct. In the study, not all queries were for products that Amazon sells which led to inaccuracies. There were often responses that gave locations in a geographic area not close to the consumer. When it came to product-specific local search, Google relies on the biggest variety of sources which is one reason why it only had an error rate of 6% for mobile.
In Chatmeter’s own research we have found that on average 82% of searches are unbranded. This being said, the Google Assistant is the clear front-runner when it comes to connecting consumers with brands through voice search.
How To Optimize For Voice Search
1. Start with Google
Amazon Alexa may currently be a consumer favorite but it doesn’t mean it’s the easiest solution for brands. Google offers more ways for consumers to interact with brands at both the local and national level. Google relies on information from the brand’s website, third-party sites, the knowledge graph, voice apps, and web links. This means there are six different sources Google searches for answers. If brands want to rank in voice search they should start by optimizing for Google searches.
Brands can optimize for voice search by implementing a Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) strategy. This strategy is designed for brands who want to appear in voice searches without having to create a voice app.
Another way to improve your voice search appearances is by creating local pages. Local pages can be used to create a product inventory feed. This feed can then be read by Google and point consumers in the right direction for in-store and online purchases.
2. Optimize Third-Party Data
One thing Voicebot.ai consistently found in their research is that Wikipedia and Yelp powered many of the answers across all assistants. Brands that aren’t actively managing their Yelp presence could be losing out on potential customers. Yelp is the main source for local content on both Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri – be sure your Yelp listings are accurate.
As for Wikipedia, it’s best to optimize the first sentence of your Wikipedia page so that voice answers give a quick and accurate description of your brand. Wikipedia is one of the top sources for branded searches on Amazon Alexa, keep this page up-to-date if you want to offer consumers with accurate information.
3. Don’t Dismiss Amazon Alexa
Although Amazon Alexa did not perform well on the accuracy tests in this report, Alexa development is always improving. Alexa is still the most widely used smart speaker among consumers, as shown in the record-breaking Amazon Alexa sales this past Prime Day. Brands need to be looking into ways to optimize for Alexa. That might be as simple as updating your Yelp page or something bigger like creating an Alexa Skill. Alexa was the first smart speaker and we don’t see its presence going away any time soon.
As voice search becomes more prevalent, consumers are going to expect more out of their devices. Unfortunately, when voice assistants can’t produce the right answers consumers often blame the brand, not the device. When consumers can’t access accurate information about a brand they often lose trust in that brand.
We can’t control how voice devices access their information but brands can make sure they have a presence everywhere those devices are searching. By focusing on Local SEO and VEO, brick-n-mortar stores can optimize their brand for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice searches.