Audio has gone through some revolutionary changes over the past ten years. The days of the terrestrial FM/AM incumbency are leaning towards an end as new digital formats, new delivery and new devices appear around us. We spent some time looking into the modern audio, borrowing from the following sources; Reuters Institute, Ofcom, Acast and The IAB.
Space to grow
Podcasting takes audio one step towards the on-demand culture we live in today created by Netflix and others. Perhaps due to the nature of voice, or perhaps due to entrenched legacy technologies, spoken audio remains one of the few mediums that still relies upon a linear feed of content for the lions share of its traffic. Despite signs of a forthcoming decline, the radio format remains resilient; 9/10 adults in the UK listen to radio every week for an average of nearly 21 hours per week (75% of all audio listening is live radio). However, this may be about to change as new formats, new creators and delivery mechanisms appear.
“58% of news publishers claim they’ll be focusing on audio as a priority.”
In 2018, for the first time, more than half of radio listening was done through digital platforms (DAB/Online/Smart Speakers). Furthermore, new audio publishing players are emerging; 58% of news publishers claim they’ll be focusing on audio as a priority, to meet the swelling demand as consumer habits change (73% of Smart Speaker owners indicate they want more news content to listen to).
On-demand audio primarily serves a younger demographic of habitual listeners trained by their uptake of music streaming services and detached from traditional radio format behaviours. Less than a third (29%) of weekly radio listeners are under 35 (increasing to 41% of those who listen online).
However, podcasts listener demographics sway disproportionately toward the younger markets; 49% of weekly podcast listeners were aged 15–34 (77% of podcast listeners are between 18–54).
Highly Engaged + Affluent
Digital audio consumers are likely to be media junkies; highly engaged in this medium and willing to pay for quality service. Podcast subscribers are highly likely to pay for subscription services, 84% opt to pay for a service to avoid advertising, whilst 31% use ad-blockers. Consumers are 23% more likely to pay for audio services that pay for news.
Furthermore, podcast listeners often express the experience of getting ‘hooked’ on this format. The broad spectrum of content caters from a vast array of interests and improvements in delivery have meant this medium is accessible where reading and linear radio will not suffice. 50% of people who say they listen to podcasts spend 5 or more hours listening each week.
Whilst the traditional radio experience relied upon a fixed positioned audio receiver and speaker, perhaps around the breakfast table or at the local cafe, modern digital audio offers a very different experience. Modern technology paved by investment into music streaming has made access to mobile audio instantaneous and seamless.
“27% of 18–43s engage in at least five online activities while commuting, but only 9% of 35s so do so.”
85% of listening to podcasts takes place on a mobile device and this trend continues to grow as new behaviours develop. Young adults are more likely to multitask on their smartphones whilst they commute; 27% of 18–43s engage in at least five online activities while commuting, but only 9% of 35s so do so. Whereas radio listening spikes early in the morning and again in the early evening, digital audio listening is relatively stable throughout the day.
Smart Speakers, although still relativity in their infancy, are changing the way consumers interact with media. Within a couple of years, these devices have become the fastest-growing tech product since the mobile phone and their effect on audio will be profound. 18% of Americans 18+ own a Smart Speaker or around 43 million people. 54% of this market is younger than 44. In the UK 13% of the population now own, and a slightly higher 16% of 16–54-year-olds.
Radio advertising in the US is a $30bn industry and in UK $1.7bn, and has been resilient over the last few years. However, radio’s hold on audio is slipping; habits are changing, the demographic is ageing and new measurement standards will make this format harder to sell to advertisers. New modern formats with advanced tracking and bidding are becoming more attractive and rapidly gaining traction. Not only this but podcasts and on-demand audio are believed to be attractive to advertiser due to the opt-in nature of the medium. Because podcast listeners actively seek out their content in a way similar to video on demand, the engagement factor is significant
Global podcasting advertising revenues will grow from £347 in 2017 (of which 60% was generated in the US) to £509 in 2018 (47% year-on-year). Over the same period, UK advertising revenues from podcasts are expected to rise to £11m (representing 67% year-on-year growth in nominal terms). In the UK podcast advertising revenue was equivalent to just over 1% of total UK radio advertising in 2017.
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