How are you listening to this podcast right now? Maybe you're sitting at your computer or hearing it on a smart speaker, which probably means that you're listening with one app while keeping busy with a few other things. You might also be using a tablet or an MP3 player, which lets you stay on the move while you're hearing the show. But what's really become popular over the past few years is listening on your phone. Just this past month, almost 24 million podcast listeners used their smartphones, compared to 17 million for everything else put together. One thing all these choices have in common is that they let you keep busy while you're listening. And in today's fast-paced world, digital audio, particularly podcasts and audiobooks, is becoming a cornerstone of our daily lives.
Multitasking isn't always a good thing. We might feel like we're being more productive when we multitask, but over the years studies have shown that we really do better when we're focusing on just one task at a time. If you're curious to find out just how well you multitask, here's a link to a short test:
At the same time, audio does have some advantages of its own. Our brains are finely tuned to listening to each other, to hearing a speaker's tone and pace, their inflections and the mood they're expressing beneath their words. Reading is still a pretty new trick when it comes to our brains, which means written words might not connect as quickly or deeply as hearing them spoken aloud. And while reading lets us consider the words more carefully and go back over them more easily, digital audio leaves us free to keep working, to go running or driving, to live our lives while we’re listening.
Just recently I had Summurai founder Tal Florentin on the show, and his company is at the forefront of this digital audio revolution. Summurai is a content management service that takes written articles and condenses them into short audio snippets for people on the go. Here's a link to a video with more information:
Even so, digital audio doesn’t leave much room for distraction. If you’re listening to a podcast on your way to work, that means you’re probably not listening to anything else right at that moment. This can make audio branding and advertising much more effective than other forms of online marketing; nearly 70% of podcast listeners report that podcast ads made them aware of new products and services. And that audience is quickly growing in the US: more than a hundred million Americans now listen to at least one podcast a month.
Audiobooks are also becoming more popular, with one in five Americans having listened to one within the past year. While the first vinyl book recordings were made in 1932, and the first books on tape released in 1975, the industry’s grown in ways that could hardly have been imagined back then. George Saunders’ 2017 novel Lincoln in the Bardo, for instance, has been adapted into an audiobook with a cast of 166 Hollywood actors, and last year an Audible adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman featured its own all-star cast. Audio dramas have also experienced a revival over the past few years, with authors penning exclusive works meant to be heard instead of read.
While the freedom to listen and multitask all at once might be a selling point for audio content, sound can create a more powerful connection than just one of convenience. The act of learning something new triggers the reward center in our brains, much the same way as eating our favorite food or winning a game. And storytelling isn’t just part of our history, it’s how most of us learned to read: we grew up listening to our parents and teachers read to us. Audio content can combine both these things together, teaching us new things in a way that connects with our deepest experiences.
Printed books and traditional radio certainly aren’t going away anytime soon, but digital audio has become the fastest growing sector in the publishing industry. Twenty million people started to listen to podcasts for the first time last year, and that number’s only going to keep growing. And as more and more people find themselves listening on the go, the opportunities to reach out to and engage with that emerging audience will keep growing with it.
Would you consider reviewing the Audio Branding Podcast? If so, here’s the Apple Podcast link: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/audio-branding/id1489042453 And if you like what you hear (and read!) – please do share it with anyone you think might be interested. Thanks so much!
And if you’re interested in crafting an audio brand for your business, why not check out my FREE download – 5 Tips For Implementing An Intentional Audio Strategy at https://voiceoversandvocals.com/audio-branding-strategy/