Voice activation is the key opportunity in digital audio

Flora Williams, Connections Business Director at OMD

Weekly online audio listening growth is accelerating, with a 41% increase in the last three years. Now over half the population, 28.5 million listen via portable music players, desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and voice activated speakers per week.

Voice activated speaker listening has doubled year on year and has been the majority contributor to the huge annual growth in online audio listening. Interestingly, this growth has come from C2DEs rather than ABC1s, whose usage has stayed stable. I’m sure one of the reasons for this will be that voice activated speakers have become more price accessible, with smaller versions like the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot being around the £50 mark with discounts available. Advertisers looking to tap into the smart speaker audience should take a look at IAB UK’s ‘Find your voice’ research, conducted with Ipsos MORI.

The other growth platform continues to be mobile, up a steady 3% year on year, driven by network, software and hardware evolutions. When 5G is fully up and running I anticipate desktop and tablet reach will drop further, while mobile reach will jump up.

Within advertising, men are notoriously difficult to reach but within online audio they listen to an average of 14.6 hours per week (this is nearly 15% more time than they spend on social media - Touchpoints 2018). Another difficult to reach audience is 15-24 year olds, but this audience grew by 57% year on year, and now over indexes at 153 – a great opportunity for advertisers.

With the increase in online audio listening, there are more chances to reach target audiences doing activities. Radiocentre’s new ‘Hear and Now’ research proves the incremental impact relevant messages will have on ad effectiveness – and now there are even more opportunities.

Want to find out more?

This blog piece was written as part of the IAB UK’s Listening Britain series. See more findings, research and opinions here.

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