April 12 | 2021
Audio is finally (again) here, to stay!?
Like any other week on the internet, a couple of tweets catch fire and everyone starts pulling their hair out trying to understand the new shiny thing on the block. The iPhone invite-only social audio app Clubhouse is that shiny new thing. However, its gleam does not come from its features or personalities, it comes from underlying trends that have been brewing for a while. Our most natural way of communicating is making a big comeback (or arrival?) to our tech and pandemic-driven lives. So what are the creative opportunities?
Audio as a format is as old as the phone, quite literally. While many mainstream apps have used audio in their messaging and networking features (Whatsapp, WeChat, Messenger, IMessage, Discord, etc) since well before the pandemic, a number of companies ( Clubhouse, Twitter spaces, and Discord; the most known ones) have now found a sweet spot between user interface, consumer behavior and our current confinement driven context. That’s what the hype is all about.
After a year of being stuck at home, ominously scrolling through text, pictures, and videos it’s not surprising that the tech industry got a grip on our newly formed habits. These companies are trying to find the richest spot between content consumption involvement and content creation immediacy through a medium that is the most natural we have: spoken word.
They are like listening to a roughly edited live radio show (of an awfully specific personal interest) where you can participate if you wish to while allowing you to finish cooking dinner in the meantime. You can quickly jump in and out of rooms much like a self-curated virtual conference. All of this while enjoying the social connection that only live-listening to a human voice can provoke during these unprecedented times. You’ll find yourself listening to your favorite friends, journalists, entrepreneurs, gamers, creators, and thought leaders rambling about their work and lives until you realize you have finally finished washing that lasagna tray you had procrastinated over for a week. Time flies.
However, the aforementioned model is not the only or most exciting one. There are several types of social audio platforms that are worth mentioning. Cappuccino creates a daily morning brief of your friend’s audio snippets, Wavechat brands itself as the Snapchat of voice and Cozyroom creates spatial audio rooms to chat with your friends. Marie Dolle has a simple and interesting categorization of these. The sheer diversity of them signals a bigger trend. Audio is becoming more and more integrated into the tech we use daily and therefore our media habits.
Thanks to developments in technology, even before the pandemic podcasts, music streaming, speakers, headphones and voice assistants had been on the rise. The pandemic has accelerated these trends. While it’s unlikely this level of audio consumption will stay the same once we are back at bars and cafés, it is expected to be significantly higher than pre-covid times. Technology will keep evolving, providing consumers with more and more tools to connect with each other and business the most natural way possible; for many, audio is this way. The question is, how can brands stay relevant in this new format?
Audio offers an incredible number of opportunities for brands and organizations to be relevant to consumer’s lifestyles. The majority of people consume audio in parallel to other tasks: working out, playing video games, cooking, doing house chores, commuting, etc. Brands that tap into these moments creatively will form new and more personal ways to engage with their consumers. The challenge here is, as with any other medium, to be relevant and stay on brand.
For marketeers the first questions that should arise from this brief summary of Audio are not surprising: Does my brand belong to audio? What role does audio have in the customer journey? What kind of voice could my brand have? What personality will this voice have? Should we rely completely on audio creators and influencers? What type of content can we create that is relevant to Anne while she’s working out? These require a deep understanding of the competitive landscape, consumer consumption habits, and your brand.
Audio has just made a big comeback (or has finally arrived?) and the creative opportunities to interact with your audiences are yet to be discovered. Let’s talk!