There’s an interesting revival in podcasts. They were super hot several years ago and then sort of sunk down into a tepid valley, wandering listlessly. Then they started to resurge. All the while, the pundits and the coaches decried that video was the new god of audience reach. Yet video continues to struggle. Might audio actually leapfrog video? Maybe. Or perhaps it will be key, a prime part of the mix. What’s important for marketers, is to understand the role of audio in the consumer mindset. Let’s explore that.
Radio, oh Radio or Audio
The pundits have railed on the death of radio for nearly two decades, but stubbornly, consumers still listen and stations are still making a profit and advertisers are still advertising. Sure, it’s changed, radio, like print, has morphed. Consolidations, automated broadcasting. But morning and afternoon drives still bring in listeners and ad revenue. Because largely, people still listen to the radio in their cars to and from work and well, a lot of people still drive. They also listen in their kitchens waiting for the caffeine to kick in. Audio engagement is important. Still.
Audio Lets Us Play In Our Skulls
One of the great things about audio, such as podcasts and radio shows (even via satellite streams) is that we can visualize in our heads while we watch the world around us. That in part may be (I have no idea if it’s true), our lizard brain; we can listen while watching our surroundings for lions on the plains. But audio gives room to our imagination, video takes that away to a large degree and reading is very specific and focused. Audio leaves room for expansion.
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Maybe audio holds a more primal connection? After all, we spent many hundreds of thousands of years telling stories (auditory) around the fire than showing YouTube videos to each other and watching the telly.
Audio Is Insanely Cheap and Easy
With video, it still remains an expensive medium in terms of device, bandwidth and production requirements along with distribution. Audio is cheaper, faster, uses less bandwidth and can be distributed across more devices.
Newspapers, magazine publishers and even book publishers, have a unique opportunity to find new paths to audience engagement at remarkably low cost to entry.
Audio, voice, is a far deeper and more socially resonant medium than both print and video. Think about that for a moment. And why voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Cortana are the first IoT (Internet-of-Things) devices to be taking off in the home. These home devices are used mostly for listening to music and tuning into radio stations.
Concluding
With the rise of in-home audio devices like Google Home, Alexia and Apple Speaker and the popularity of streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music and of course, podcasting, audio is going through a bit of a renaissance. Kind of like print.
It is perhaps interesting, that two mediums undergoing a revival, audio and print, are analog in nature and have been around far longer than video and images and certainly the internet.
The pundits hype video and audio like it was the second coming. Print won’t go back to where it was for newspapers, nor will radio. Neither is a golden cure, but audio offers some exciting new opportunities. For marketers, for brands, it should be on the radar and invested in.
What do you think?

About the Author webconomist

Giles is a globally experience marketing communications practitioner with over 20 years experience in the technology sector. He's brought a number of innovative technology products and services to market around the world. His work as a digital anthropologist is now over a decade of digital research understanding how consumers use technology. Giles is regularly interviewed by news media on digital topics. Currently he is managing partner of Ekspansiv, a consulting firm focusing on MarTech, SalesTech and Marketing Operations (MarOps). He's on the organising committee for the Atlantic Big Data Congress and co-founder/creator of the Ice Awards for creative in advertising. Giles has worked in senior management in both public and private companies and has been involved with 4 startups; three successful and one failed.

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