Voice-Assisted Technology Podcast Trends
Trends that show audio listeners are using voice-assisted technology to access podcasts include increased ownership of voice-activated smart speakers, increased investment in podcast audio search by search engines, and podcast content creators increasing use of paywall and licensing of smart speakers.
Increase in Smart Speaker Ownership
- In 2017, only about 7% of Americans owned a voice-activated smart speaker.
- In 2019, the percentage of Americans that own a smart speaker increased to about 21%.
- The rising trend in smart speaker ownership is expected to keep increasing and is likely to affect the use of voice-assisted technology to access podcasts positively because about 27% of smart speaker owners listen to podcasts at least once a month whereas only about 11% of smartphone users have listened to a podcast.
Increased Investment in Audio Search
- Google announced in August 2019 that it was adding podcast episodes to search results on its platform and would also include voice-enabled search using Google assistant.
- Google stated that "when someone asks the Google Assistant to play a podcast about a topic, the response will be a list of suggested episodes it can play. Google also said it plans to work with podcast publishers to help guide potential listeners to where the podcast might be found, even if they are behind a paywall."
- This trend is also exemplified by Audioburst, an audio content search startup, that has been "expanding its real-time radio and podcast transcription and audio indexing services for years."
- Audioburst raised over $25 million to invest in building "what it refers to as the ‘world’s largest library of audio content’ and it has emphasized the solution’s applicability to voice-first devices, including those with Google Assistant. "
- The investment by Audioburst and Google into ensuring that voice-assisted technology devices can better search for and access podcast content is another trend that shows that audio listeners are using voice-assisted technology and the trend is likely to be even bigger in the future.
Voice Assistants Facilitating Walled Content
- Podcast content creators are increasingly looking to move from the advert-supported free content model to a subscription-based model or a licensed content model, and industry analysts believe that they are banking on increased adoption of smart speakers and other voice-assisted technologies for podcast and radio listening to make it feasible.
- Industry analysts insist that there is a "trend toward fragmentation and away from aggregation where practical." In essence, podcast content creators are looking to take away their content from aggregators such as Google and YouTube to a platform where they have control of user data, experience, and their content.
- Analysts believe that voice-assisted technology is helping to facilitate this shift. According to analysts, "general-purpose consumer voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant will actually facilitate this shift because there are few of them, they are not based on open standards like the web, they have de facto walled gardens of content already, and each is looking for differentiation. If Siri can autoplay BBC podcasts but Google Assistant cannot, you could imagine that becoming an incentive for U.K. users to adopt the Apple ecosystem."