Ever wonder where Alexa gets information about hours of operation, descriptions, and addresses? Starting this week, it’ll begin to source at least some of that data from Yext, a digital knowledge management platform that counts Taco Bell, Arby’s, Marriott, and Rite Aid among its clients. Yext today announced direct integration with Alexa that’ll supply the voice assistant — and by extension, people who use it — facts about nearby businesses and services.
Yext claims it’s now the largest source of first-party business data on the Alexa platform.
“Today is a quantum leap forward in Yext’s mission to give businesses control over their digital knowledge and provide consumers with perfect information everywhere,” Yext founder and CEO Howard Lerman said in a statement. “Amazon has changed the world with its innovative, market-leading voice-enabled devices; the Amazon Echo family of smart speakers; and the Alexa voice service. Now the tens of millions of consumers who ask Alexa questions can get authoritative answers from a business itself with the Yext Knowledge Engine.”
Folks are increasingly turning to voice assistants for answers to burning questions.
Statista estimates that in 2017, more than 710 million people actively used assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and the Google Assistant, and it forecasts that the number will rise to 1.8 billion by 2021. Thanks to those assistants, a whopping 30 percent of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, according to Gartner.
“Amazon’s innovations have driven consumer adoption of voice search exponentially,” Marc Ferrentino, chief strategy officer at Yext, said in a statement. “As a result, businesses must align their brand content to answer specific questions posed by consumers using natural language. With Yext, they can do just that — so that consumers who rely on Alexa can receive the most up-to-date knowledge about their business when and where it matters.”
The name Yext might not ring a bell, but chances are you’ve benefited from its services. The publicly traded New York City-based company’s Knowledge Network — a massive business listings database — feeds up-to-date photos, phone numbers, and other information to digital platforms like Yelp, Uber, WeChat, and TripAdvisor, plus navigation systems, social networks, apps, maps, and more.
Yext recently added support for ATMs, drop boxes, charging stations, and retail kiosks, allowing banks and other businesses to add location information about spots to withdraw cash or juice up a phone. And it launched Yext for Food, a service that enables restaurants, bars, and cafes to control and update menu data across Facebook, Foursquare, and Delivery.com and to add special tags (schema) like happy hour specials, attire, and price range to results pages in Google, Bing, and other search engines.
One way Yext customers manage listings is through the Knowledge Assistant, an SMS and Facebook Messenger chatbot. They can message things like “Update my hours” to revise info on the go, or check a current listing with a command like “Show me my phone number” or “Show me my reviews.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Knowledge Assistant aggregates user reviews across platforms, automatically identifies top competitors, and supports bulk updates and uploads.
Yext, which was founded in 2006, raised $117 million from firms including Sutter Hill Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners, and WGI Investments before going public. Its market capitalization is said to be more than $1.1 billion.