Jack Myers Says ‘Get Ready’ for Bright New Age of Audio.

With new audio content flooding the marketplace and technologies such as smart speakers changing how audio is consumed, author and media expert Jack Myers sees audio taking a more prominent position among marketers and ad agencies. “Audio is the new black,” he declared Wednesday at the RAIN Podcast Business Summit in New York.

A combination of technology and content will fuel a “new revolution” in advertising, he said. Fast adoption of smart speakers—voice-controlled devices that include such brand names as Amazon Echo and Google Home—in tandem with an explosion in audio content is about to change media consumption and marketing. “In media and advertising we are in our winter of discontent,” Myers said, pointing to a thicket of issues such as brand safety, ad fraud and adapting to programmatic media buying. “But audio is the perfect storm, it’s the warm summer rain of growth and opportunity powered by technology advances and a new form of storytelling we all know as podcasts.”

All the indicators point to continued growth of audio consumption. On-demand audio surpassed 250 billion streams in 2016, according to Nielsen. And radio listeners spent slightly more time with the medium in fourth quarter 2016 year-over-year, per Nielsen’s latest Comparable Metrics Report. It showed radio’s reach among adults 18+ crept up slightly to 92.7% during an average 2016 week compared to the same period one year ago (92.5%).

Meanwhile Google forecasts that in the next five years, 50% of all searches will be conducted via audio. Calling audio “undiscovered beachfront property,” Myers said every marketer and media company will need to understand how to communicate verbally with their audience, to develop an “audio design” for their messaging and define their brand in an audio context.

With broadcast radio still by far the largest piece of audio consumption, a renewed focus on audio could have a positive impact on the industry. “Audio is about to become the hot part of the creative agency,” Myers predicted. “For those old-fashioned radio media buyers and planners and sales people, they’re about to be re-integrated into the mainstream of media. So get ready.”

Via InsideRadio


Apple Is About to Dramatically Change the Podcast Industry

Last week’s Apple developers’ conference, WWDC, is one of those major tech events where big announcements are made, products are unveiled, and bold futures are staked. But it’s also a place where many small changes are announced — relatively unglamorous developments that get overshadowed by the sexier news, but that nevertheless have far-reaching implications. And for the quiet little village that is the podcast industry, the introduction of an upcoming feature from Apple is likely going to change things forever.

In a session about the company’s podcast tools on Friday, Apple announced that it was finally going to provide comprehensive analytics about listener behavior to podcast publishers with the iOS 11 update coming this fall. There are tremendous and wide-reaching implications of this news; in short, we’re nearing a moment of truth, where we’ll finally get to find out if the podcast industry is everything it believes itself to be: uniquely strong in cultivating engaged listeners, capable of driving large amounts of audience, and a legitimate challenge to the radio industry and other content mediums. We’ll also learn whether podcasting really has an ad-skipping problem, as The Wall Street Journal documented last summer, and the degree to which that problem represents an existential threat.

The new analytics are something many in the industry, particularly those looking to scale up their businesses and build out media empires, have been seeking for a while now, because such metrics will potentially enable producers to overcome the roadblock that is believed to be preventing more advertising money from flowing into the space: credible measurement accountability, and probably a more reliable general knowability of just how much listening is actually happening within a podcast episode.

The story of the podcast business since its inception in 2004 — the first boom (and bust), steady growth over the second half of the aughts, Apple packaging its Podcast app with iOS, and the phenomenon of Serial — has largely been a story of scrappy, hard-fought gains. Much of this has to do with the fact that podcasting has mostly functioned without a level of technological innovation that would have subjected the industry to the modern pressures currently experienced by publishers of other media. And much of that has to do with the fact that Apple, which facilitates the majority of all podcast consumption, hasn’t done much with podcasting since it brought the medium onto its platform more than a decade ago.

In the absence of more sophisticated measuring tools during that time, a podcast’s success has chiefly been determined based on the number of downloads — and that’s a problem, or so the story goes, because nobody’s really sure what actually happens to an episode after it’s been downloaded by a listener. That’s been a deal-breaker for bigger advertisers, because they want to know whether people are actually hearing the ads that they’re buying. Instead, podcasting has been able to grow its advertising-driven businesses off the strength of what are called direct-response advertisers: the Mailchimps and Squarespaces and Blue Aprons and all those other companies you’ve probably joked about propping up the podcast space, because they’re able to use promo code conversions to get a sense of whether buying ads in podcasts is working for them.

Following Apple’s announcement, the belief is that major brand advertisers are now very much on the table, and that this is the opportunity for the podcast industry to attract Big Money. But some people in the industry are uneasy about what could happen to podcasting, which has thus far behaved like a community hidden in the woods, sheltered from the pressures that accompany steps forward in technological measurability — and, more broadly, the effects of that Big Money. A parallel is being drawn between blogs — often described as once being a weird, free wonderland of creativity and expression — after they began experiencing these types of developments, and what may happen to podcasts and the relatively low-stakes ecosystem they have thus far enjoyed. Such worries include, among others, content and programming being cynically driven by metrics, the introduction of Big Business that would wipe out the freedom and experimentation afforded by the space, and the death of the medium’s independent spirit.

Time will tell whether the new efforts by Apple will actually bring podcast companies the fortunes they hope for, and whether, as a result, it will have any sort of adverse effect on the medium. Before this news, the podcast industry was projected to generate about $250 million worth of ad revenue in 2017, a meager sum compared to projections for radio (about $14 billion) this year. If things play out the way industry hopefuls expect, we could see that number — and growth rate — explode. But what happens when a village becomes a city? Things get complicated, the societal structure gets reorganized, and ways of living change forever. There will be a sense of progress — and with it, questions about what progress is supposed to mean.

Via VULTURE by Nicholas Quah