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For your ears only

The possibilities of voice interfaces, audio and personalized content

The rise of audio in the pandemic era

During the pandemic, audio content is gaining more popularity than ever before. When in-person interactions have been limited, people are turning to voice and sound for humane and meaningful connections. Thanks to endless video conferencing, people are now eager to explore non-screen forms of interaction and entertainment. This is also supported by a telephone provider TalkTalk who stated that the number of landline calls have surged 50% in the UK during the pandemic. Similar results have been reported in the US by Verizon.

The market for audiobook services has exploded and new players are entering the arena. According to Good E Reader, in the first ten months of 2021, US audiobook sales were up by 17% compared to 2019. To keep customers coming back after the pandemic, publishers and brands have to differentiate themselves even more and focus on creating such exclusive experiences that consumers are unlikely to find elsewhere. Audio escapism is the term for the psychological act of diving into another world. This is something that the audio service providers are interested in.

Hearing is humane

Besides one-way online content, audio is also spreading to forums and communities to create more meaningful and emphatic interactions and conversations. Hearing people talk gives the discussions a more humane touch and can potentially decrease online bullying and hate talk. For example, the Clubhouse app enables users to address and discuss in a more mature and equitable manner. This also puts pressure on brands to engage and address topics also in the audio media platforms. Nevertheless, audio is here to stay and its potential is limitless.

Audio is here to stay and its potential is limitless.

Audio as a part of brand and marketing

Sound and audio will be in the core of many brands in the future. According to Lauren McGuire from Man Made Music, voice gestures are being used to activate and navigate inside services whereas visual symbols may be slowly disappearing. For brands, there is an urgent need to employ audio and make it part of the overall customer experience. This is also supported by a Gartner study stating that 30% of communication and online interactions was done without a screen by 2020. Voice interfaces are gaining popularity and creating new opportunities and brand experiences in audio.

Change of media

As the technology develops and provides new tools for media consumption, similarly passive consumers are given possibilities to become active members of the community. Content becomes more and more personalized. On the other hand, social bubbles and tight communities form more easily. The challenge is to keep an open mind and explore the different content with genuine interest. 

Go and explore this future scenario/opportunity in Hotel U14, Unioninkatu 14, Helsinki.

The installation has been concepted and executed by Yle.