The fusion of podcasts and smart speakers is fueling a rise in voice-based audience engagement and revenue opportunities at news media companies eager to solidify their value propositions, according to a new report released today by INMA. 

“Audio Opportunities for News Media” examines the current and short-term future opportunities of audio content. INMA leads the news media industry in the emerging fields of content economics and digital subscriptions, and audio content appears destined to be a pillar of both. 

The report, which features case studies from six news media companies worldwide, is free to INMA members.
The report, which features case studies from six news media companies worldwide, is free to INMA members.

The news industry’s interest in audio content — following the lead of audience content preferences and smart speaker sales — can be seen in a variety of ways in news media companies all over the world. The opportunities in audience and advertising are starting at the top-tier global companies, but smaller publishers are dabbling in them as well.

The report’s author is Robert Loewenthal, founder of the Sydney-based Whooshkaa Technology Platform, who discusses his audio work with News Corp Australia. INMA Senior Editor Dawn McMullan adds case studies from five news media companies: Financial Times, The New York Times, NWZ Media, De Standaard, and El País, to complement Loewenthal’s narrative.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Audience opportunities: Companies will continue to embrace voice technology because it creates a direct connection with audiences in their homes.
  • Advertising opportunities: The time to make money from audio advertising is limited — and this is it. Like digital news, audio eventually will become an audience-based business model.
  • Content is key: As is often the case, news media companies are in a prime position to benefit from the audio trend because they have so much content.
  • Road to younger audiences: Research shows younger consumers listen to podcasts more than the radio.
  • Smart speaker owner habits: Audiences with smart speakers use their smartphones less, read newspapers and magazines less frequently, listen to less radio, and watch less TV.
  • Audio isn’t video: Audio is everything video hasn’t been for the media industry: cheap, easy for journalists to grasp, and easily fits into the consumer’s life at so many points. 
Financial Times is one of six news media companies featured in the new report.
Financial Times is one of six news media companies featured in the new report.

The INMA report focuses on audience data showing the quick adaptation of news audiences to audio, as well as the advertisers following their lead. The report also delves into the dangers for news media companies from Google, which is working on its own audio news service. In addition, Loewenthal offers his predictions on what the next year or two bring in the audio space.

“One thing is for sure,” Loewenthal writes. “News media companies need to take live news and sport seriously. They have the delivery platforms … and production capability to cover it better than anyone else. People don’t switch on a podcast to find out about who’s winning the game or breaking news stories. Live content means traditional media still has an edge.” 

Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA, says: “Audio Opportunities for News Media” is the first major association foray into the fast-emerging world of voice tech — covering podcasts, smart speakers, and the management layers behind these pillars. INMA aims to deeply explore the audience engagement and revenue opportunities behind audio as we see this as fast-rising space for news media companies in the next year.” 

The report includes audience data about the audio platform.
The report includes audience data about the audio platform.

“Audio Opportunities for News Media” is available for free to INMA members and available to non-members for US$795. INMA members may download the report and non-members may order the report by going to www.inma.org/reports.