Audio isn't video: What you need to learn about podcasts

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A new INMA report focusses on audio opportunities for news media companies.

Founder of Sydney-based Whooshkaa technology platform Robert Loewenthal says the fusion of podcasts and smart speakers is fuelling a rise in voice-based audience engagement and revenue opportunities at news media companies eager to solidify their value propositions.

Audio Opportunities for News Media examines current and short-term future opportunities of audio content, expected to be a pillar of both content economics and digital subscriptions.

Report author Robert Loewenthal is joined by INMA senior editor Dawn McMullan who adds case studies from five news media companies - the Financial Times, New York Times, NWZ Media, De Standaard, and El País.

Loewenthal says the news industry's interest in audio content - following the lead of audience content preferences and smart speaker sales - can be seen in a variety of ways in news media companies all over the world. "The opportunities in audience and advertising are starting at the top-tier global companies, but smaller publishers are dabbling in them as well," he says.

Key findings include:

  • Audience opportunities: Companies will continue to embrace voice technology because it creates a direct connection with audiences in their homes.
  • Advertising opportunities: The time to make money from audio advertising is limited -- and this is it. Like digital news, audio eventually will become an audience-based business model.
  • Content is key: As is often the case, news media companies are in a prime position to benefit from the audio trend because they have so much content.
  • Road to younger audiences: Research shows younger consumers listen to podcasts more than the radio.
  • Smart speaker owner habits: Audiences with smart speakers use their smartphones less, read newspapers and magazines less frequently, listen to less radio, and watch less TV.
  • Audio isn't video: Audio is everything video hasn't been for the media industry: cheap, easy for journalists to grasp, and easily fits into the consumer's life at so many points.

The INMA report focusses on audience data showing the quick adaptation of news audiences to audio, as well as the advertisers following their lead. It also delves into the dangers for news media companies from Google, which is working on its own audio news service. In addition, Loewenthal offers his predictions on what the next year or two bring in the audio space.

"One thing is for sure," Loewenthal writes. "News media companies need to take live news and sport seriously. They have the delivery platforms... and production capability to cover it better than anyone else.

"People don't switch on a podcast to find out about who's winning the game or breaking news stories. Live content means traditional media still has an edge."

Audio Opportunities for News Media is free to INMA members and available to non-members with a year's association membership.

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