This article is part of CMO.com’s March/April series about emerging technology. Click here for more.
The rise of voice services via Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and other voice assistant devices are a strong indication that consumers have become comfortable with speaking to their devices. But consumers don’t just talk to their voice assistants. They’re using them to listen to audio content as well.
For example, brands including Tide, Campbell’s, Nestle, and NASCAR now stream content to consumers via their voice devices. But audio content, of course, isn’t a new idea. Its roots go back to 1920, when radio station KDKA made the nation’s first commercial broadcast on the Harding-Cox presidential election day. People were able to hear the results of the race before they read about it in the newspaper.
Nearly 100 years later, digital channels have completely redefined the audio space. Indeed, today’s consumers are listening to podcasts, streaming music, audio books, satellite radio, and more.
But which source do listeners most prefer? Last month, Adobe, CMO.com’s parent company, posed that question (along with their age and gender) in a poll to 1,000 U.S. consumers. Respondents were given a variety of options and asked to pick only their preferred source of audio listening.
“We put this poll out into the market just because we were curious, and I didn’t think that what we were going to find was going to be quite this big,” said Tamara Gaffney, director and principal analyst at Adobe. “Here’s what’s fascinating: When we broke results down by age range, the No. 1 preferred source of audio listening was streaming music services, which accounted for an overall 49% of respondents across all age groups, even 65-plus.”
The percentage jumped to 65% for the 18-to-25 demographic. According to Gaffney, the ability to measure streaming-audio usage is going to be key in understanding user preferences and usage patterns. (Adobe today announced the first offline and online audio analytics solution.)
“The reality is there is a role for the traditional radio station and its type of programming, but the old-school radio dial is aging out,” Gaffney said. “Today people are opting for digital radio-like services, and as usage continues to grow, we’ll see that marketers will start to look for ways to monetize these engaged audiences.”
The poll also found that 18- to 24-year-olds preferred podcasts over AM/FM radio by more than double, 12% versus 5%, respectively.
“The future is looking very bright for podcasts, especially as we enter a new age of multitasking consumers,” Gaffney said. “I’m already hearing anecdotally that people are listening to audio books and podcasts when they exercise.”
The takeaway for marketers? Podcasts can be an effective form of thought leadership, she said.
“Marketers have a plethora of audio marketing options,” Gaffney pointed out. “It’s important to look at how your audience is engaging with that content, whether it’s streaming music or podcast, as that could provide insight and best practices for your own audio content creation.”