Listening is the new reading


In this multitasking era, many tech companies are investing money in new ways to grab your attention while you’re doing something else. And your ears have a big role to play.

Is listening the new reading?

Think about the growth of audiobooks, a two-billion-dollar industry with more and more people joining the tribe of listeners, thanks to services like Scribd, Kobo and Audible. These are already part of the Amazon family – which is interesting, because now you can ask Alexa to read you your book, switch on your favourite radio show on Stitcher and play the new interactive radio show, made by the BBC.

Ok, what’s this interactive radio?

In short, it’s radio, reinvented. In a time when podcasting has never been so easy, thanks to services like Simplecast and Pogo, platforms like ottoRadio and Radiotopia are shaping a new way of listening to your favourite shows. They merge the two key aspects of broadcasting and podcasting: ease of access and a tailor-made playlist.

But podcasts are so 2000s.

Wrong. The podcast market is showing no signs of slowing: in 2017, 112 million Americans listened to one, and industry advertising revenue is up 85%, thanks to so many innovative and successful productions, like SERIAL, “The entrepreneurs” and FullStack Radio. Competition in distribution is growing too – from smaller curators to huge players like Google (by the way, a new YouTube-based streaming music service is coming soon) and Spotify. So Apple, formerly known as the only player in the market, has started acquiring teams and technologies to help it keep going: song-recognition app Shazam and podcast search engine PopUp Archive are now based in Cupertino.

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Fig 1: monthly podcast listening. Source: Edison Research.

What’s the secret of their success?

As always, producing original content – and big brands are now working to create a fan base of followers launching their own audio shows. Thanks to companies like Gimlet and Pacific Content, branded podcasts are now definitely a thing, as we can see with Outside the box by Walmart, The Message by GE, .future by Microsoft and Open for Business by Ebay.

Show me the money.

The line between ads and media is rapidly blurring and podcasts can reach the most young, mobile and professional target at the most desirable time, when they commute. So, the average listener has money to spend and attention to give.

Awesome: the marketer’s holy grail!

We think so. And here’s one more thing: starting from January 16th, every Tuesday at 1:30 PM CET, we’ll be live from PoliRadio, the Politecnico di Milano campus radio with the R20 live show: a journey into the next tech trends in 20 links – sorry, minutes - host in collaboration with the students from one of the most eminent European university. Follow us!

Follow the R20 radio show, every Tuesday at 1:30 PM CET, live from PoliRadio, the Politecnico di Milano campus radio -


Cover pic source Unsplash

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