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Reuters: Smart Speakers A Potential Bonanza For Audio Content Creators.

The accelerating adoption of smart speakers and related tech presents a massive opportunity for audio content providers, according to the Reuters Institute 2020 Digital News Report released this week.

“There are clear development opportunities for news publishers to embrace this expanding area of audio and voice technology,” says the report, which is based on a recent online survey of VOICE Global attendees from across the world.

“The smart speaker market is forecast to increase from $1.57 billion in 2017 to $11.79 billion by 2023, according to Markets and Markets,” the report says. “This significant growth is recognized by 84% of respondents who expect spend on audio/voice tech or content to increase within their sector in the next 12 months.”

The vast majority of those surveyed believe the mass adoption of this hardware will bring a growing need for content, with “83% agreeing that ‘The full potential of audio/voice tech has not yet been exploited,’” the report says.

For the radio and podcast industries, that means the ability to provide programming for partners across a range of industries. “Ready-to-publish content is most appealing” in forming partnerships with producers, the report says. The majority said they want to partner with larger audio/voice tech content producers, with the BBC, Spotify, Reuters, The New York Times and the Associated Press among the most popular.

Yet “when it comes to where respondents source their content, 58% claim to produce content themselves, and 35% use freelancers or contractors,” the report says.

“This suggests that the future of voice/audio tech content sourcing may have a reliance with individuals as opposed to large organizations, although many may work on behalf of larger operators.”

When choosing an audio/voice content partner, “multi-platform capacity” (52%) and “availability of ready-to-use content” (51%) were the most appealing qualities. “This also supports the high proportion of respondents involved/interested in ready-to-publish content (73%),” the report says.

Almost four in 10 (39%) respondents “produce or use conversational AI technology and 37% work with skill/action functionality.”

The Reuters Institute says its findings also reflect the “growing popularity of podcasts,” the third most popular category. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they use or produce chat/interview podcasts, while 22% also work with voice search optimization (VSO).

Other relevant content categories include music (24%), daily news podcasts (20%), audio books and category specific-content (17% each), radio/online radio (16%), and other news content (15%).

Reuters believes news producers are being presented with “a large, untapped opportunity” in the audio space.

“Eighty-four percent of respondents agree that ‘news publishers could do more to integrate developments in audio/voice tech’ and 72% agree that ‘there is demand for a news-focused voice interface that provides as much detail as a web page,” the report says.

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