Developing Audio Strategy Is Critical For Brands Today

The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.

The pandemic has accelerated global media adoption rates of streaming across devices and platforms. Digital video consumption has soared, followed by digital audio, with Spotify being the most listened-to platform in the U.S. followed by Pandora, according to eMarketer. Over three-quarters of American internet users aged 13+ years listen to music via streaming (as tracked in a 2019 MusicWatch survey), signaling new opportunities for brands to innovate with audio.

Record growth in e-listening.E-listening includes streaming (listening) online or listening to downloaded music, radio or TV. With the rise in digital streaming, people have replaced their televisions and radios with the internet on computers or mobile devices. According to Nielsen, in the U.S. 63% of respondents reported paying for at least one audio-streaming subscription, while 53% paid for two.



Along with audio streaming, the rise in mobile streaming is worth tracking for brands to understand streamers’ relationships with their devices.

Audio streaming answers the need for on-demand convenience and access, driven by its growing popularity among educated, affluent, employed and younger consumers. Further, the rise of audiobooks (eclipsing e-books in major markets like U.S. and China), podcasting and voice-operated smart speakers points to the growing prevalence of audio tech in consumers’ lives.

E-listening is for the tech-savvy. Globally, brands saw a surge in e-listening during the pandemic. Spotify has a growing number of paid subscribers, rising to 130 million listeners (plus another 257 million free subscribers) of health and wellness tunes, meditative and instrumental music,as reported by the Financial Times.

In the U.K. and U.S., the top two activities performed online during the pandemic were searching for COVID-19 updates followed by listening to music,according to a Global Web Index study — indicating a consumer appetite for content conveying safety, comfort and motivation in uncertain times.

E-listeners skew towards the young, affluent, employed and educated, “MilleXZials” being the highest consumers of digital audio globally, according to Deloitte and other sources. Smart speaker owners and podcast listeners are also the early adopters of this technology and report fluency with technology products, suggesting that all those who listen to digital audio are also digital natives.

Smart device owners are e-listeners. Smart devices are electronic devices wirelessly connected to other devices. Smart speaker ownership also skews young, educated, employed and affluent, according to varied market sources. With (as reported by Nielsen) 81% of Americans owning a smartphone and one in five U.S. consumers being smartphone-only internet users, and 91% of U.S. consumers reporting subscription to a video-streaming service and 30% subscribing to three or more such services, there is little doubt that consumers’ e-listening habits are growing.

E-listening is largely device-driven. In the U.S., the Amazon Echo boasts a roughly 70% market share compared to just 25% for Google Home and 5% for Apple HomePod, even as smart device ownership peaks.

Drawing from the motivations and habits of e-listeners will help brands program and orient for the next normal as it arrives.

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