The Rise Of Social Audio

Audio as a whole has become increasingly important. Advertisers follow the eyeballs -- or in this case, ears.

As consumer adoption skyrockets, the medium itself has garnered attention beyond impressions. 

Over the past several years, podcasts have gained a cult following -- and most recently, it has become a scramble in meetings to see who can mention Clubhouse first.

Just last week, Spotify bought Locker Room to complete with the emerging platform, while Spaces launched from Twitter.

It’s hard to believe that Facebook, Instagram, and others are far behind.

So surely social audio is the next big thing, right? The answer is a resounding...maybe.  

We are certainly in “the craze” at the moment. The aura of exclusivity derived in part from the must-get-an-invite groundswell has created a lot of hype. While the fervor surely will die down over time, the interest in audio and desire to make it interactive will remain.



The interactive audio space offers a new breed of potential influencers a voice, coupled with a certain degree of intimacy. And right now, platforms like Clubhouse invite candor and require less polish. Engaging hosts and moderators who have something to say, regardless of how prepared it is, can attract new audiences. 

While Clubhouse remains ad-free, how can brands take advantage of the platform? There are a few options:

Social audio offers an easy, intimate way to engage. While other channels might have a more polished presence, this format gives creators the freedom for intimacy and the ability to build one-on-one connections.

These factors serve as crucial levers for advertisers who want to establish more meaningful, enduring relationships with their audiences. 

As many established influencers move to Clubhouse, a new crop of interesting room hosts, perhaps less polished than the crowd on Instagram, has joined in on the fun as well. With the playing field more leveled, brands have a chance to curate their own voices and connect with new ambassadors in this innovative space. 

Brands need to get creative. A ton of opportunities lie within Clubhouse -- and most of it doesn’t exist yet. From events and networking to commerce to sponsorship, the space is wide open. It also provide a place for networking as we transition out of COVID-19.

While events remain remote or hybridized, brands can turn to Clubhouse for further fireside chats and more intimate networking opportunities, while also curating news and launches in novel ways. The real-time aspect plays a huge role, as anyone can “drop in” and request the mic. Watch, or rather listen, to this space.

So why the resounding “maybe,” you ask?

While everyone seems to be getting in on the social audio game, the fever pitch surely will settle down. In fact, according to the latest data from Sensor Tower and eMarketer, March downloads of Clubhouse pale in comparison to the peak in February. 

The time that people carved out for listening during the pandemic may fade, and social audio will need to reconfigure its role in our lives. 

Right now, it feels like a buffet that we can all gorge on, but at some point, we will return to our regular diets. 

At least for now, the cost of entry is low -- and creators are not exclusive, resulting in a “more is more” environment. 

Scale will matter here. We will see the wheat separate from the chaff as platforms find the interest lanes where audiences will stick around. Some formats and content areas like live sports (hello, Locker Room), the modern press conference, networking events, panels, and even corporate events like earnings reports could see reinvention here. 

Social media continues to face a certain degree of blowback from both users and advertisers who have finally grown tired of the never-ending echo chamber.

While it remains a crucial channel for any modern advertiser, it has become increasingly challenging to navigate between algorithms, measurement challenges and moderation issues. Right now, social and the interactive audio space represents a way to truly curate your own playlist.

Free from algorithms, this new space provides easy access a range of voices, content, and communities -- and has the attention of users, advertisers, and major platforms. Perhaps with that momentum, it can break free from some of the missteps that have tarnished “traditional social” and develop a new set of ad solutions.  

1 comment about "The Rise Of Social Audio".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, May 6, 2021 at 9:40 p.m.

    "Audio as a whole has become increasingly important".

    C'mon now, audio has ALWAYS been important.   Think films, radio, television, the music industry etc.   How myopic.

    Yes, podcasting is becoming increasingly important but in the 'audio industry' it is actually still a fingerling.

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