Voice tech may still be a novelty for many, but it’s already having a big effect on millions of consumers’ media habits.

As Recode reports, voice interfaces have been adopted faster than almost any other technology in history. Already, between a quarter and a third of American households that own a smart speaker use it every month.

However, Recode noted that until something comes along that absolutely cannot be done without voice, users are simply accessing existing content in a new way.

But this is having a significant impact, with some existing media already feeling the smart-speaker effect.

Over the last year, data from National Public Radio (NPR) shows that just 4% of the non-profit broadcaster’s output was listened to via smart speakers. This year, that figure is 19%.

And, importantly for NPR, which relies on audience contributions, that doesn’t represent listener migration – it’s a new audience, as there has been no decline in listening figures through other platforms.

Consequently, this is good for donations. Tamar Charney, managing director for personalisation and curation at NPR, told Recode, “The more time people listen, the more engaged they are with the content and the more likely they are to donate.”

And Bret Kinsella, founder of the Voicebot blog and podcast, said, “Smart speakers single-handedly brought radio back to the home.”

Radio is not the only medium to have gained from this. Podcasts, too, have had a boost. People often spend twice as long listening to podcasts on a smart speaker as they would on their phones, says Cara Meverden, founder of voice-controlled podcast curation app Scout FM.

Even more importantly for marketers, research shows that smart-speaker listeners are less likely than computer or phone listeners to skip when they hit the ads. Why? Well, it’s simply harder to tell Alexa or Siri to run forward 30 seconds than it is just to let the ads run.

“Smart speaker listeners are much more passive,” Meverden explained. “People with voice interfaces tend to accept what’s given to them.”

Playing music and other audio content is where smart speakers have really transformed listening habits. Various studies show that anywhere from 70% to 90% of users say they have streamed music on their smart speakers, and about 50% of those do so every day.

Spotify’s own data confirms this – it says smart speaker listeners are far more likely to listen to music than other Spotify users. And, intriguingly, smart-speaker listeners are more likely to listen at the weekend, and to ask for nostalgic songs.

Sourced from Recode, Voicebot; additional content by WARC staff