The way we consume content is shifting, and audio experiences are claiming their stake in our lives. Audio routines are becoming a staple in daily life, from the Alexa routine you have set to share the morning news, to the podcast playing in the car on your commute. The explosive growth of audio content over the last few years still hasn’t reached its peak, and marketers will want to consider novel ways to engage their audiences through this medium.
Shifting content from eyes to ears
Preferences on the kinds of social media we enjoy are shifting. Long form video content is losing popularity as Tiktok’s rise pushed short form video to the forefront, and other platforms have followed suit (Facebook and Instagram’s Reels, YouTube Shorts).
The decline in longfrom video has coincided with a rise in popularity of audio-focused content. Over the last few years, podcasts have exploded into the mainstream. As of November 2022, there are 384 million podcast listeners globally, and in 2023, it’s predicted that that number will be closer to 424 million listeners. Audiobooks have also seen an uptick in popularity–in the United States, audiobook revenue grew 25% in 2021, marking the tenth consecutive year of double digit growth.
What’s pushing this shift towards audio content? One factor to consider is the screen fatigue users are feeling from the past few years. Following periods of lockdowns and the persistence of remote work, school, and online entertainment as the primary channel for recreation, consumers are itching to find engagement and entertainment away from the screen. On the other hand, users still want to consume content. Audio-focused content has found itself at these crossroads, allowing listeners to experience long form pieces of media without needing to be tied to a screen for the experience.
Audio content settles into daily routines
The portability offered by audio content provides a significant draw. Spotify’s 2022 study on Audio Key Performance Indicators found an increase in listening through household devices like gaming consoles, desktop computers, smart speakers, and vehicle speakers. Among the most popular devices for listening are smart speakers (up 30%), TVs (up 82%) and in-car speakers (up 124%), indicating that listeners are taking their audio with them throughout the day.
It’s useful to keep in mind that content created specifically for audio consumption naturally trumps the alternative of having video content play in the background. A well produced audio experience will not make the listener feel like they’re missing out on an element of content, and it eliminates the urge to go back and forth checking in on what you missed that’s on screen.
High quality audio and emotional engagement will be key for audio marketing
Advertisers follow content trends closely, and are taking their money where the crowds go. The nature of the audio makes it so that there is a wide timeframe for content consumption–considering that close to one fifth (22%) of podcast listeners listen to over 22 hours of podcasts a week, the opportunities to reach audiences are endless.
Voices’ 2023 Annual Trends Report predicted that 2023 will be a milestone year for audio advertising. Nearly 50% of content creators plan to focus on audio advertising in 2023 (up ten percent from the previous year), and audio advertising does have an impact on their audiences–81% of listeners say they have taken action after hearing audio ads during a podcast, which include researching a product online, connecting with the brand on social media, and discussing the brand with others.
When thinking about how to incorporate audio into marketing strategy, marketers should ensure that the audio quality is top tier. Sound quality affects the source’s authority and credibility. One study from the University of Southern California and Australian National University found those who listened to a podcast with poor sound quality perceived the speaker as less likable and less intelligent, compared to listeners of the exact same recording with a normal edit. Listeners expect their audio experiences to be of professional quality. When it comes to marketing and brand building, a lack of high quality audio has the potential to jeopardize an audience’s willingness to engage, and jeopardize the brand’s credibility.
Finally, to stand out in the massive amounts of audio experiences competing for people’s attention, marketers should put effort into creating unique, emotionally engaging content. In 2023, content creators are looking to grow their customer base (20%) and create brand awareness (18%). A combination of unique voices and sounds with high quality audio production will be key to building a lasting relationship with your audience.