The artificial future

Dan Siegler is the Head of Industry, Automotive, and Real Estate at Google. In his segment, you will learn ways to adapt your business for mobile and meet consumer expectations when it comes to using mobile. He also discusses how artificial intelligence can help you improve your consumer experience.

Topic – Inman Connect highlights

Mentor – Dan Siegler


Kevin:   While we were at Inman Connect in New York, I caught up with Dan Siegler from Google. Here’s that chat I had with him.

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? Because 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 serving end-market home buyers. 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. When I say that, we’re talking about a pretty big base to begin with.

But we do think it will continue, and really fueled by now the emergence of voice search. Voice search is really the most quickly adopted technology by consumers since the smartphone. It makes it so much easier to use mobile devices because it’s so hard to type on them. 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, that’s sort of … is that considered mobile?

Dan:   It’s not currently 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 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, yeah. 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 voice activation in cars, it’s just becoming more and more … We’re just looking for devices. So the mobile sphere is more than just mobile phones and iPads. Mobile is just getting away from the desk.

Dan:   It is, sure. I think different folks define mobile different ways. At Google, on the advertising side, we think of mobile as smartphones specifically. We even break out tablets separately for now. We actually have starting grouping desktop and tablet together, and then looking at mobile separately.

Kevin:   So when you talk about mobile, you’re only talking there about phones.

Dan:   About smartphones.

Kevin:   About smartphones.

Dan:   Yeah.

Kevin:   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, which is when query volume on mobile exceeded that of the other two types of devices combined. Your mobile device is what you have on you all the time really. Desktop and tablets tend to be more stationary devices, using them in homes.

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 by mobile, absolutely have been. 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, and 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 to act with a little bit more urgency. I think there’s a risk of only looking at competition within your space, 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 on a mobile device, regardless of the industry, they see what’s possible with that technology, and they come to expect that every time. So real estate companies, with regard to consumer expectations, they’re competing with the Ubers of the world, Airbnbs of the world, the Amazons of the world. Those that are at the vanguard are providing these amazing and helpful mobile experiences.

Kevin:   What do you see, what does Google see as the future real estate agent? How will they be working with mobile and with voice technology?

Dan:   I 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’ll call visual-in and visual-out. Vision in general we think as sort of 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. So visual-in for us is about Google Lens, which essentially is a camera function that helps you scan and recognise objects in your environment, and get more information about them. Consider home décor items, for example, 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 gonna grow exponentially.

The other piece of that, what we call visual-out, also really exciting. That’s essentially augmented reality, or AR. AR we really think is just about to sort of enter the mainstream. It’s available on millions of devices now, but will really hit the mainstream. 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.

Some early examples we’re seeing outside of the real estate space, the cosmetics company L’Oreal, 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, and put it on their face and wash it off. They can just see. 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 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 everyday 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 kind of get in front of that technology and innovate, and show us how it could be used. I think it’s not hard to sort of extrapolate off of some of the home décor and fashion uses we’re seeing now, and see how that could be impactful in a home, and looking at different features and understanding what you might want and not want in a home. But I think right now a lot of what we talk about in the real estate space, mobile specifically, video also, a lot of folks are playing catch up, trying to catch up to existing consumer expectations.

AR is really a 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 were 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, they’re 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 kind of 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 Check it out for yourself. We compiled them into shows, and we’ll also be featuring them individually. That website again is

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