The World Wide Web has come a long way since the early days of dodgy dial-up connections and rudimentary search engines. It was a point that Brenda Salinas, a Google executive, was at pains to make when she offered a demonstration of The Washington Post’s impossibly archaic website as it had looked at its inception in 1996.

Speaking at the World Media Group Briefing on ‘The Impact of Voice & Sound’ (London, March 2019), Salinas – who works on news partnerships for Google – emphasised that the industry is at a similarly embryonic stage of development when it comes to audio and voice.

“As far as the audio internet, this is where we are: we are in 1996. It is a very nascent technology and we think it has a bunch of potential, but there are a lot of unanswered questions. Even the most creative among us are still not sure which way this is going to go,” said Salinas.

Whether it be voice-activated devices powered by machine learning AI or journalistic podcasts, marketers are increasingly excited by the potential to establish a sonic connection with consumers. As event chair Clancy Childs, chief product and technology officer at Dow Jones Professional Information, commented, the “amount of audio-friendly content is multiplying minute by minute”.

Sonic discovery