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Smart speakers offer publishers new revenue opportunities

March 20, 2019 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Publishers are using voice technology, such as smart speakers (e.g. Alexa and Google Home), to create new connections with their audiences, particularly younger consumers. It’s also a great way to develop new revenue opportunities. According to the new INMA report, Audio Opportunities for News Media, publishers are building audio resources to allow dynamic content or ads insertion into voice-enabled devices.

The report includes a number of market estimates of ownership and media usage. For example, according to the International Data Corporation, smart speaker adoption will grow worldwide from 99.8 million in 2018 to 230.5 million in 2022.

INMA’s research also cites TMG Media, which reports that one-third (33%) of those owning an audio device, own more than one. Media habits of audio device owners show that 45% are listening to less radio, 38% are using their smartphones less, 32% are reading fewer magazines and newspapers and 29% are watching less TV.

In addition, Edison Research and NPR found that 43 million Americans own a smart speaker. This audience is open to new media experiences. In fact, 81% of them are open to new smart speakers features created by brands. Twenty-two percent of these users also like brands that create skills/features on smart speakers, stronger than any brand activity on TV, radio, and podcasts.

Case Studies

A few news publishers are building their audio assets internally or using third party on-demand audio platforms to distribute their new content to audiences (full detailed case studies in report).

The Financial Times

The Financial Times (FT) debuted its News Briefing, a daily news offering, optimized specifically for smart speakers. They also produced an interactive documentary, FT Hidden Cities Berlin, in partnership with Google and available exclusively on Google Home. FT estimates at least 60% of their listeners are non-subscribers to their print and/or digital products. FT views the usage of smart speakers as a new opportunity to experiment with content to grow subscribers. Further, smart speaker listeners are a younger audience, often a difficult segment for FT to target.

Alastair Mackie, head of audio for commercial at the FT believes that creating content for the smart speaker allows FT to be innovative and engaging while present itself as a digital first’ media company.

The New York Times

The New York Times’ T Brand Studio produces ad-sponsored and stand-alone podcasts. It launched The Daily, a 20-plus minute daily news podcast and radio show, in 2017. It’s widely popular and a strong advertising vehicle in the marketplace. New audio content in the works at The Times includes a daily flash briefing, an interactive news quiz, and enhanced coverage of its Sunday newspaper. Sebastian Tomich, global head of advertising and marketing solutions, thinks smart speakers offer a great opportunity to test audio content and learn about audience engagement while generating revenue.

The Times is also investing in teaching consumers how to use audio commands with step-by-step instructions.

Audio smart speakers are changing consumer habits and news media companies are beginning to invest in audio tech to produce on-demand audio content. They believe it offers great branding and marketing opportunities and can help generate additional advertising revenue. It’s a ripe time to invest in audio content as smart speaker owners are spending more time listening to on-demand news, music, podcasts, and books.

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