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  • Writer's pictureRon Jaworski

How audio content increases audience loyalty and revenue

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Throughout the years, the media publishing industry has persevered through numerous changes. Each era presents new challenges and needs such as reaching out to new and younger generations, creating an effective first-party data strategy, and most importantly - sustaining readership and finding additional revenue channels.

Strong audience development and engagement are at the core of any long-term success and it’s every publisher’s dream to have a loyal audience that consumes content and generates a steady stream of revenue.

In these times when publishers are fighting for each user, we’ve set out to find just how much they can benefit from users who visit, consume, and engage the most when you throw a little something in the mix: audio. So, how can you increase revenue by 8-12% when your most loyal readers are just a fraction of your overall readership?

Here’s what we found:

Let’s break it down.

The findings

Defining loyalty is not quite a clear-cut discipline so we’ve used the following framework. Every audience is divided into two engagement segments:

  1. Casual reader: Someone who has visited the site once or twice over the last 30 days

  2. Loyal reader: Someone who has visited the site over three times over the last 30 days

While they consist of roughly 20% of the entire audience, loyal readers really matter for the bottom line as they generate around 80% of your revenue (aka. the Pareto principle). They represent the vast majority of page views as they consume up to five times more content and bring most of the revenue as they provide constant traffic and higher levels of engagement.

So what happens when you introduce audio content to the mix - audio versions of existing textual content?

A lot of good stuff.

Based on research we conducted from June 2021 to June 2022 with leading media publications in the US, we learned that over 90% of audiences who opt to listen to content are highly engaged loyal readers.

Adding audio increased the number of loyal readers (turned casual readers into loyal) by 10.3%, in turn, increasing the number of loyal readers can increase overall revenue by around 8.1%,

On top of that, when opting to listen, time spent on site (engagement) of loyal readers increased by 50- 70%, which resulted in an increase in overall revenue by around 4-6%.

This is due to programmatic advertising, as every piece of audio content featured an audio advertisement, dynamically inserted before audio content (pre-roll) and during content at a contextually relevant time (mid-roll).

Adding those two influences together brings it to a total increase of around 12-14% in revenue!

Why this matters

Content has evolved, fundamentally changing how and when people experience it.

In this ever-developing world, there is a distinct role for every format, platform, and device in creating more profound and meaningful relationships - perhaps none more so than audio.

Listeners are among the most loyal audiences there are as the medium creates an immersive and personal experience. This is most notable for news, audio seems to be the least taxing medium as it requires barely any effort and takes less energy. By relying on your eardrums instead of eyeballs, you can consume content almost anywhere, not required to gaze at the screen. As such, the entire listening experience feels more rewarding compared to reading.

The pandemic was a catalyst for increased listening, which expanded in various directions. Many became heavily reliant on their audio products to aid in connectivity, as well as provide entertainment, information, and help with remote working.

This is particularly relevant for news publishers at times when the trust in news is at an all-time low in the US and the interest in the news is waning, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022. Just under half of the people in the US, or 47%, to be more precise, say they are interested, down from 67% in 2015.

This is another key reason why audio should be viewed as strategically important. It can deliver reach, loyalty, and revenue in equal measure.

It’s important to note that 2022 will be another year of growth for digital audio. According to eMarketer, US adults will consume an extra 3 minutes per day of digital audio this year, totaling 1 hour and 40 minutes. The time spent will be even higher among active digital audio listeners - 2 hours and 17 minutes.

eMarketer predicts that digital audio will account for 12.7% of overall media time among US adults. When it comes to digital media time, audio’s share will be 20.3% - higher than watching OTT videos, using social media, and watching videos on smartphones.

Bottom line: get a piece of the audio action

Listening to digital audio remains one of the most popular digital activities that will continue taking up more minutes per day in the coming years.

Moving forward, having an audio option across all digital real estate and channels will be one of the ways for publishers to move the needle more to the green part of the revenue meter. Arguably the best part is the fact that no legacy whatsoever is needed to jumpstart an audio strategy. All it takes is a bit of help from AI and creativity to make the most bang for your buck.

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