25 Feb The world of Google property – Dan Siegler
Dan Siegler is from Google, a household name when it comes to the internet. More people search for property on Google than any other source and Dan explains what they are doing to keep it that way.
Kevin: I recently had the pleasure of attending the Inman Connect conference, one of the biggest real estate conferences in the world was held in New York just a matter of a couple of weeks ago. During the time we were there we had a studio set up, we recorded about 60 odd interviews with brokers, with movers and shakers in the property industry. I caught up with Dan Siegler, Dan is from Google, a household name when it comes to the internet, but in particular what they’re doing with property and search. I thought you might enjoy my talk with Dan Siegler.
Kevin: Dan Siegler is the Head of Real Estate at Google, and joins me to talk about mobile. Dan, thanks and welcome to the show.
Dan: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Kevin: More and more users are using mobile. Do you expect that to increase, ’cause it’s going at a phenomenal rate now?
Dan: It is. We do, we think it will increase. Even specific to the real estate space, we did a study last year analysing query behaviour, and also surveying in market home buyers, and we found 72% of home buyers now use a mobile device as part of their journey. Just in the last two years we’ve seen home buying, home shopping related queries on mobile devices more than double, and when I say that, we’re talking about from a pretty big base to begin with. But we do think it will continue, and really fueled by, now the emergency of voice search. Voice search is really the most quickly adopted technology by consumers since the Smartphone, and it makes it so much easier to use mobile devices because it’s so hard to type on them.
Dan: And so, as voice becomes more and more ubiquitous, right now we’ve got about 91 million people using voice actively, we think that will continue to fuel more and more mobile query behaviour.
Kevin: Of course, with Google Home now too, is that considered mobile?
Dan: It’s not really considered mobile, very limited sort of advertising opportunities for now, but you’re absolutely right to make that connection between voice now starting on mobile devices and then coming to the home.
Kevin: Because we talk about searching for real estate agents, Google Home, you ask it to tell me about the local real estate agent, the best real estate agent, that potential is there isn’t it?
Dan: It is, yeah, absolutely. Not hard to imagine a world where voice is the main way you’re interacting with the internet.
Kevin: I guess acting with everything, because you know, voice activation in cars, it’s just becoming more and more, that we’re just looking for devices. So, the mobiles fear is more than just mobile phones and iPads isn’t it? I mean, mobile is just getting away from the desk.
Dan: It is, sure. Yeah, I think different folks define mobile different ways. I mean, at Google on the advertising side we think of mobile as Smartphones specifically, we even break out tablets separately for now.
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Dan: We actually started grouping desktop and tablet together, and then grouping the mobile separately.
Kevin: So, when you talk about mobile you’re only talking there about phones?
Dan: About Smartphones, that’s right.
Kevin: About Smartphones. That’s phenomenal. Is that the biggest growth sector in mobile? I mean, you’re looking at, is the phone taking over from the pad?
Dan: It has long since taken over from desktop and the iPad. We are years beyond the point where, we used to call the mobile moment.
Dan: Which, is when query volume on mobile exceeded that of the other two types of devices combined. You know, your mobile device which you have on you all the time really, and desktop and tablets tend to be more stationary devices, using them in home.
Kevin: We’re talking here about real estate, of course, and real estate agents, but I’m just curious to know if there is one industry that’s taking up mobile more than any other?
Dan: It’s becoming ubiquitous, and even some of the industries that you might have thought a few years ago would never be disrupted my mobile absolutely has them. I mean, who would have thought a few years ago, outside of real estate, that 50% of people would be banking through their mobile devices now. Right now we’re seeing 60% of job searches being conducted through mobile devices, things that you just wouldn’t have thought of, now it is really becoming a mobile first world.
Kevin: Yeah. Do you think the real estate industry, real estate agents and brokers understand the importance of mobile, or being seen on mobile, not just the internet?
Dan: I think the real estate industry is waking up to that, I think collectively could probably stand, act with a little bit more urgency. I think there is a risk of only looking at competition within your space, and looking at what other real estate companies and brands are doing. But, I think you have to understand through the lens and perspective of the consumer, every time they have a fantastic, super assistive and helpful experience through mobile device, regardless of the industry, they see what’s possible with that technology, and they come to expect that every time. And so, real estate companies, you know, with regard to consumer expectations, you’re competing with Ubers of the world, Airbnbs of the world, Amazons of the world. Those that are at the vanguard are providing these amazing and helpful mobile experiences.
Kevin: What does Google see as the future real estate agent? I mean, how will they be working with mobile, and with voice technology?
Dan: I still think there’s more technology coming that will make mobile even more helpful and more ubiquitous. What we’re thinking about now at Google, two areas that we’ve called [Visual In 00:05:12] and [Visual Out 00:05:12]. And Vision, in general, we think is the next phase of search to begin with. If you think about search starting with text inputs and outputs, and typing, now we’re talking about voice, and how much easier that gets. We think Visual is the next, and so Visual In for us is about Google Lens, which essentially is a camera function, it helps you scan and recognise objects in your home, and to get more information about them.
Dan: So we’ll consider home décor items for example, right? Scanning that, and then getting information about that item, getting recommendations for similar items that you might like, et cetera. Google Lens right now can identify over a billion items, and that’s only going to grow exponentially. The other piece of that, what we call Visual Out, also really exciting. That’s essentially augmented reality, or AR. And AR, we really think is just about to enter the mainstream, it’s available on millions of devices now, but will really hit the mainstream. And so, we still, today, probably associate AR with entertainment, and those types of experiences, but ultimately, the killer apps in AR will probably be ones that make life just a little bit easier.
Dan: Some early examples we’re seeing outside of the real estate space, the cosmetics company, L’Oreal, you’re familiar with them? So they acquired a company now that lets people virtually try on makeup to see how it would look before, not only before purchasing it, but they don’t even have to really try it on, put it on their face and wash it off, they can just see.
Dan: Mercedes-Benz, the car manufacturer, they’re testing now using AR, the user manual overlay. So, now you’re in your car scanning the different features of the car, and the user manual and information just comes up through your phone, you don’t have to open up the manual. So, little things like that, that make a big difference in the real life of consumers.
Kevin: Let’s talk about augmented reality in real estate for a moment. Where do you see that going? What are some of the developments happening there?
Dan: I think we’re still waiting for the industry to get in front of that technology, and innovate, and show us how it could be used. I think it’s not hard to extrapolate off of some of the home décor and fashion uses we’re seeing now, and see how that can be impactful at home, and looking at different features, and understanding what you might want and not want at home. But I think, right now, a lot of what we talk about in the real estate space, mobiles specifically, video also, a lot of folks are playing catch up. They’re trying to catch up to existing consumer expectations.
Dan: AR is a really great chance now to get in front of that, right, because it hasn’t gone mainstream yet. So, testing those tools and features, and figuring out, as you’re saying, what will be those killer apps that we can provide, so that we can get in front of consumer expectations and set the bar for others to catch up.
Kevin: Do you find that consumers are really pushing this technology, they’re looking for it before it’s even there? I mean, are we adopting these sorts of new technologies much faster?
Dan: I think the younger the demographic is, the quicker they are to adopt new technologies, and as millennials now are getting pretty close to the average first-time home buyer age of 32 you’ll see that technology becoming that much more important and influential, and then moving upstream into the older demographics as well. Consumers don’t necessarily know what they don’t know, and so it’s up to brands to experiment, and get in front of that, and show them what’s possible.
Kevin: That was just one of the 60 interviews we did when we were at Inman Connect in New York. Now, you can see those, we recorded them in video, and you can see them all right now at propertytv.io. Check it out for yourself, we compiled them into shows, and we’ll also be featuring them individually. That website again is propertytv.io.