Local Flash Briefings on Alexa, in partnership with Spoken Layer
Overview of this campaign
The USA TODAY NETWORK launched five daily feeds on Amazon’s Alexa devices to give users updated local news without a single click necessary. In our hands-free world, smart speakers are quickly becoming the operating system of the home. The participating local outlets providing human-read feeds are The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, The Tennessean in Nashville, The Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, The Indianapolis Star in Indianapolis and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee. Editors at these USA TODAY NETWORK newsrooms select the most important stories of the day across sections like news, sports, money, entertainment and tech. Each story is rewritten for the ear, and then sent to our partner, Spoken Layer. There, a voice talent records, adds a national story from USA TODAY, also selected by a Network journalist, and the entire multimedia product is distributed on the one-file RSS feed. In addition to Alexa, all five feeds are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast and iHeartRadio, publishing each morning at 6 a.m. This project is sponsored by Chubb Insurance, the world’s largest publicly-traded casualty and property insurer. This generation of revenue offsets the cost, making it an easy choice to commit to a daily feed on relatively new technology. Consumers and advertisers alike contribute to the growth of the digital news audio industry, as more listeners and higher amounts of ad spend continue to pour in. While many consumers have learned how to block ads or skip by them, a sponsorship message on an in-home device feed can create a more meaningful impact. Listeners subscribe to our feeds, fitting our news updates into their daily routines. It’s certainly a resounding symbol of engagement. Each feed ends with a call to action, driving traffic to a vanity URL for promoting and processing digital subscriptions.
Results for this campaign
Since launching three weeks ago, the feeds have obtained over 10,000 listens (a term for streams and/or downloads). Two listeners wrote five-star reviews on Amazon.com praising the Alexa feeds this month: “Daily flash briefing is read by an actual human voice, instead of Alexa. Offers stories I don’t get from the TV broadcasts, and gives a good variety of topics each day. Overall, a great listening experience!”