How creators, enterprises, and developers can unlock new discovery, engagement, and revenue opportunities for audio content
There is a deep disconnect in the audio industry. Consumer engagement and content value are growing at opposite speeds. Take a look at the facts:
More than 60% of all podcasts in existence were published in the last two years, despite podcasting being around since 2004. Engagement is higher than ever: 60% of Americans aged 18-35 listen to podcasts every month. The global audience for podcasts, too, is expected to double by 2025 and reach 800m people.
Meanwhile, intensified competition means increased difficulty for audio creators and enterprises looking to have their content discovered, engaged, and monetized. Today’s solutions, while successful so far, are modest given what they can and will be.
Monetization, specifically, is underdeveloped. While profitable for creators, host-read ads aren’t easily scalable and are typically reserved for the top 5% of audio creators. Programmatic buying is still in its infancy—it accounts for less than 5% of the $1.3 billion US podcast advertising market (projected in 2021). Subscriptions offer a dependable revenue stream but limit reach. And finally donations—while an important option—aren’t a sustainable solution for consistency.
Today, the industry has been focused on developing new audio formats, interactivity elements, and discovery tools. Despite the market size of US podcast advertising doubling in the last two years, no one has called out the real 20x opportunity that will power the next phase of growth for audio.
That opportunity is called Audio Intelligence.
What is Audio Intelligence?
Audio Intelligence is the use of insights to accelerate the discovery, engagement, and monetization of audio content.
Audio Intelligence is a breakthrough moment for audio.
While many other audio-focused companies use the term, we believe it’s much larger than any single company. Audio Intelligence is a new way for creators and publishers to operate. It incorporates the data layer that’s been missing in audio. This information is crucial to the audio ecosystem, ensuring the vitality and longevity of a medium that has long promised exponential revenue growth but has yet to live up to the opportunity.
The old audio strategy used to be quite effective. It involved creators using their powerful instincts to get their content discovered. Relying on just those instincts no longer works. Generic episode promotion on social media now receives less engagement. It takes too much time to write episode notes, set up chaptering, and identify appropriate ad breaks. Too many episodes, especially high-quality and still relevant ones from years ago, are left unmonetized despite having high value and relevancy.
Audio Intelligence flips the script. It enables audio to be on equal footing with other visual content formats such as text and video. These mediums have already seen the way data and insights can transform entire industries.
None of this sounds like breaking news, but there hasn’t been a way to address this reality.
Technology, finally, has reached a level to make audio content more powerful. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing are no longer reserved for just big tech companies. They’re now ubiquitous across the industry. This technology is groundbreaking for audio content. When leveraged correctly, we call it Audio Intelligence.
Audio Intelligence is the way thriving creators and enterprises are now operating. With data accessible at their fingertips, creators can amplify their intuition—blending their creativity with contextual insights to supercharge discovery, engagement, and revenue.
A world transformed by Audio Intelligence is an exciting one. Audiences receive smarter suggestions and recommendations. Brands promote their products contextually. Publishers expand their ad supply while simultaneously making it more valuable.
How does Audio Intelligence work?
In the last few years, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing tooling have become more accessible and affordable. These developments are powering massive innovations in how audio content is comprehended, promoted, optimized, and monetized.
Audio strategies are being rewritten based on access to this technology. Audio Intelligence offers four key benefits to every creator and publisher looking to thrive in audio going forward:
Enhanced Advertising — Tap into previously hidden advertising opportunities to increase content value
Enhanced advertising means that creators and publishers can drive more revenue from their audio content. Audio Intelligence increases the quality and quantity of ad inventory for publishers and platforms.
Through technology, there is now a way to detect if audio content is safe and suitable for advertisers. This ensures brand messages are placed next to content that aligns with their identity. These protective guardrails increase the value of the ad supply. Plus, with topic, keyword, and entity detection, high-value contextual and programmatic advertising opportunities become accessible for every creator.
Audio Intelligence also powers dynamic content segmentation, resulting in new ad supply. Relevant clips from a variety of podcasts can be dynamically stitched together to make topic-based, long-form audio content. With new content comes new opportunities to advertise and monetize.
Instant Insights — Identify tone, topics, and keywords to enable better discovery and monetization of audio content
Speech-to-text transcription technology, nowadays, is table stakes for creators and publishers. Audiences have an easier time finding desired audio content when there’s a transcript attached. However, Audio Intelligence offers more, providing instant insights around a podcast’s tone, sentiment, keywords, topics, and entities. So now if you’re the host of a sports podcast, for example, that means surfacing the names of teams, athletes, and major stories all automatically.
For discovery, these insights are crucial. Understanding content topics unlocks the ability to set up automatic chaptering and generate engaging highlight clips. Publishers have told us that these insights help illuminate what type of content is performing best—potentially leading to new podcast spinoffs. And, as mentioned, these instant insights increase the value of audio ads that can be run alongside content.
Smart Promotion — Share audio content in the right format for the right channel to maximize discovery and engagement
As mentioned, the days of attracting a large audience by sharing content as a mere link on social media are behind us. Listeners are busy. They don’t have time to listen to an entire episode while they scroll through social media.
Audio Intelligence, however, offers the opportunity to get audio content in front of the right audience in the right format on the right channel. We call this smart promotion. It means reducing the guessing involved when selecting what content to promote.
Technology now can identify the most engaging moments in a piece of audio content and transform the highlight into engaging formats for promotion. For example, creators can automatically turn podcast episodes into videos and publish them to distribution channels such as YouTube for greater efficiency.
Automatic Optimization — Refine content management, discovery, and monetization with always-on improvements to accelerate audience growth
With Audio Intelligence, podcasting infrastructure improves over time. As the system learns what works and what doesn’t, it means fast and powerful improvements for audio content discovery and monetization.
For instance, audio management platforms can run experiments to improve audio SEO and automate repetitive production tasks. This automatic optimization gives creators and publishers more time to do what they are uniquely positioned to do: create. Ultimately, as the management platforms test, learn, and refine their systems, it leads to efficiency and effectiveness gains for creators.
Building the future of Audio Intelligence
Finally, Audio Intelligence offers a massive opportunity for developers. Creators in the audio industry are now no longer limited to those just behind the microphone. Developers have the chance to reimagine what the industry looks like in 2030. While we are focused on building a better future for audio, we certainly don’t expect to do it alone.
There are hundreds of developers that can build on the data being captured from millions of hours of audio content. It could mean building smarter podcast websites, identifying trending audio content, or open-sourcing new personalization algorithms.
The possibilities are endless, and we’re certain Audio Intelligence will transform the industry for years to come.