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19 July 2021
Audio media’s next step will be short
Music & soundWOM, Viral campaignsPodcasts, streaming & on demand
Buzzy, forward-facing investors in audio are moving away from long conversations in the style of Clubhouse and are instead focusing on sub-90 second voice recordings.
There is growing interest in the segment, The Verge reports, which has even piqued the acquisitive/emulative attentions of Facebook, whose WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger apps both have voice-messaging features.
Why it matters
Though it’s very early days, any hyper-successful app could quickly become an advertising destination. This particular trend will rely on whether the short-form audio note has:
The potential to go viral
The ability to keep producing viral moments that attract new users
The ability to keep users on the platform.
Virality is not guaranteed but there are precedents. British readers might remember a voice note that began doing the viral rounds at the beginning of the pandemic: the massive lasagne. However, this rested on the vast reach of the Whatsapp messaging platform – it’s hard to see how ongoing virality will be achieved by any other contender.
Where it’s going
The founders of this new wave of platforms envisage a future in which user-generated audio content nestles somewhere between a TikTok and a Twitter for audio.
The Verge notes that three key factors brought us here: advances in mobile phone mics, the rise of Clubhouse in 2020, and quicker, better transcription systems have also contributed.
A key element of podcasting is the RSS feed, a veteran technology that allows creators to distribute across different platforms (like Apple podcasts and Spotify), but this has also posed something of a barrier to building an audio-first social network around podcasts in audio form. These are all trying to lock the content in.
What to do about it
In the short-term, not much. In the medium-term, audio advertising’s rise continues to find new avenues for creativity. Across media, however, the ability of an idea to live across short- and long-forms is increasingly important.