Habit is a powerful thing. It’s something that we do subconsciously, without even thinking about it. We unknowingly look for that trigger and start a routine that ultimately rewards us, especially when it’s time-consuming like reading. That’s where audio content enters the fray when looking to enhance user experience with readers already firmly embracing the audio revolution and relying on their eardrums more than eyeballs.
Be where it matters
This particular habit is something publishers and content creators should be very interested in because it’s no secret that these two groups are actively seeking ways to form deeper relationships with their readers. The first step in this quest is to understand your audience and keep nurturing your relationship.
A lot has changed in the past few years when it comes to content consumption. You have to meet your readers where they are and right now, they are doing more listening than reading. That means your readers are all over the place, consuming content while doing something else. They listen while partaking in their daily jogging sessions, making lunch, doing some chores in and around the house. They listen on their way to work, while they wait in line for their order or just catch up on their favorite content during their leisure hours.
There’s a perfectly good reason why that is so. The advances in voice technology have greatly added to the overall convenience factor in user experience. Each day, modern life is becoming more about efficiency and extending the reach of multitasking. As a result, readers-turned-listeners are spending more and more time in one specific content consumption area which small and medium publishers, as well as bloggers, content creators, and even brands are not penetrating yet, even if the opportunity is there.
Podcasting leading the way, but there’s more
To highlight the extent of that opportunity, let’s take a quick look at podcasting, audio’s blockbuster star. Publishers are increasingly using this audio format as an engagement tool, whether it’s to increase engagement on website or grow a community. For instance, Aftenposten is Norway’s largest daily newspaper which produces a daily podcast 15 to 20 minutes long, explaining one particular topic. In half a year since the first episode aired, 80% of the audience has been coming back every day. The loyalty this podcast has generated has also created a new daily habit with listeners, with 80% listening from beginning to end.
In Australia, people are consuming audio online for more than 11 hours per week – an all-time high. In fact, awareness of podcasting in Australia continues to outpace the United States – arguably the prime podcasting market – as 83% of Australians are familiar with podcasting as opposed to 70% of Americans.
With such astounding numbers, it’s no wonder why many have turned to a longer audio content format like podcasts, especially with its favorable revenue model. However, it’s also easy to forget that audio is much more than just podcasts.
It’s an online world where enhanced user experience is the difference between a sinking and a floating business, numerous publishers and brands are opting for the most straightforward route by adding a new way to engage and monetize their audiences – audio articles.
The audiofying process is very easy. There’s a piece of code (a built-in audio player) that needs to be inserted anywhere on a website. It seamlessly blends with the existing website experience and is usually completely customizable from different looks and languages to playback settings. All the publisher needs to do is convert an article to audio and in a moment’s notice gets an audio version of content ready for use. That way, they effectively publish content at the convenience of their audience, and you can too.
For instance, a Danish media company Zetland surveyed its readers on how the company can improve and found out that their readers immensely wanted more audio content. Correspondingly, the response has been overwhelming, so much so that now 60% of Zetland’s audience listens to content instead of reading.
Audio is becoming omni-present
I’m mentioning all these examples to show how audio content is a global thing, not just a US thing that takes the majority of focus. For those making an entrance to the audio landscape a bit later, whether it’s through audio articles or voice skills, there’s plenty of data to learn from, especially from those that were first to plant the flag.
For example (and this one surprised me in a good way), NWZ Media launched an Alexa skill that provides at a request all articles and obituaries published within the last 30 days in all seven regional editions of the Nordwest Zeitung, German daily newspaper. In less than three months, approximately 15% of all requests were for obituaries, which goes to show how audio can be leveraged to satisfy even the most specific content demands.
While investments in audio content for smart speakers have been cautious at best due to unclear monetization, there’s no denying that voice technology will see an uptick in the publishing space through fairly cheap cost of entry and expanding contech (content technology) abilities. In turn, the continuous growth of audio content will continue, as displayed by the incremental increase in reported consumption year over year, driven by the proliferation of smart speaker ownership and mobile streaming.
Audio has helped publishers, in particular, to get the better of a lot of common challenges, such as reaching a younger audience (one that is typically really into audio) and developing more meaningful relationships with readers. The continued expansion requires an ability to adapt to this new world and a new way of living of your readers, where information is absorbed in numerous ways. That’s exactly what you do when you occupy the eardrums of your readers instead of their eyeballs – adjusting to their evolving needs.