How we search is undergoing a sea change. The Next Revolution of Search report, produced in association with Microsoft, explores the shifts taking place at the intersection of marketing and cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, taking readers through insights from our survey of more than 2500 consumers of search technology.

The survey of 2,687 American adults supports insight gleaned from more than 25 interviews with futurists, scientists, and marketing practitioners. The Next Revolution of Search covers privacy issues in an unprecedented future, how new technologies will affect consumer attitudes, the skills marketers will need to learn, and other areas of concern for marketers over the next decade. Key findings include:

1.       Search will become ubiquitous. From improved mobile assistants, to electronic aids that predict which products we will want and order them without human input, “search,” in one form or another, will pervade modern life. While many technologies remain in their nascent stages of development, nearly 80 percent of consumers report that having a personal digital assistant to find products for them would be “incredibly useful.”

2.       Automatic buying will entrench the incumbents. As machines take on more of the mundane, former marketing opportunities in things like restocking a pantry will close themselves to new brands. Branding will grow in importance as a marketers scramble to intrude on the buying habits of consumers who spend less time thinking about what brand of toothpaste to buy.

3.       Good news: marketing’s investment in data was a wise move. Marketers may not have the know-how or manpower to make use of their mountains of data, but machines soon will.

4.       Bad news: marketing will become a job for machines. The flip-side of big data’s future usefulness is the technology making it useful; marketing is projected to become less of an art, and more of a science, as machine learning positions computers to be the only things capable of organizing the overwhelming number of data inputs already facing marketers today.

5.       Assistant competition is heating up; pay attention to who’s winning it. As the technological capabilities of things like Siri, Cortana, and Amazon’s echo (hello, Alexa) improve, consumption of these products will grow, and services may expand or narrow their focus to accommodate different markets. E-commerce assistants may become general assistants, and the dominant organizations spearheading the revolution in digital assistance may face upstart competition. Shares in the market will shift, grow, and shrink. Marketers need to keep a finger in the air to be sensitive to which way the wind blows.

Download a copy of the report to learn more.