4 Trends Shaping the Future of Audio

Expect more immersive listening experiences as technology evolves

It’s fair to say that audio is having more than a moment. But as the medium goes mainstream, there are a number of factors at play that will determine how its adoption and use play out in the coming months and years. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the forces at play.

The last cookie crumbles

Apple and Google have recently announced one of the most significant changes to the digital advertising landscape to date in ending the use of cookies targeting online users with ads based on their browsing activity. 

As a result, brands and marketers alike will have to define and implement new methods and standards for engaging with their audiences, and audio may be a helpful place to start. Audio has not been reliant on cookies in the same way that display, social, TV and video have. The medium has honed other, privacy-first ways of reaching listeners, such as topic-based targeting. When listeners opt in to a specific podcast, it inherently reveals information about their interests and potentially other data, like location. 

Interactive experiences

Podcasting has largely been a one-way form of communication. This is changing. 

Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure book series with different paths and storylines that the reader can choose? The technology exists for listeners to have the same experiences with audio, selecting what content they hear simply by nodding and shaking their heads, without ever having to touch their device. Podcasters and their audiences can expect more immersive listening experiences as the technology continues to evolve.

This means that brands need to think about the types of audio experiences they want to create for their fans. It opens up a slew of experiential advertising opportunities for brands to either create their own experiential audio content or partner with relevant podcasts to do so.

Social audio

Regardless of its staying power, Clubhouse has ushered in a new era of social audio. Up until this point, audio content has been curated through a podcast or publisher. Clubhouse’s existence alone has opened the floodgates for audio in terms of user-generated content, much like YouTube did for video, and thereby flipping the balance of control from publisher to platform. As competition for ad dollars increases with this influx of new audio, high cost and high production value content will now have to compete with potentially low-cost, quick-to-produce content.

This means that marketers should worry less about building their own tech stacks and focus more on investing in and differentiating their brands by providing quality, relevant and creative content. 

Inclusive design and functionality

Accessible technology is table stakes for any company providing a digital offering. Podcasting and audio are no exception. Listeners must have the ability to interact with audio content even with hearing or visual impairments in form of transcripts, captioning, screen readers, keyboard navigation and more. Anyone in the audio space should familiarize themselves with WCAG 2.1, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. 

This will certainly be an exciting year for audio and podcasting. The industry stands at the precipice of massive growth and widespread adoption, and the four trends discussed here will play a significant role in how this evolution will play out.