Why do we prefer sound over text
According to a study by Edison Research and TritonDigital in 2021, approximately 57% of U.S. residents over the age of 12 listened to podcasts at least once. For comparison, this figure was 44% in 2018. There are several reasons for the increasing popularity of podcasts.
First and foremost, audio is similar to video in that we often use it as background noise while engaging in routine tasks or moving around the city. Unlike video or text, we don't need to constantly look at a screen, rewind, or scroll through content. This frees up more resources to focus on important activities.
Secondly, podcasts and audiobooks provide an opportunity to consume valuable information, which is crucial considering the overwhelming amount of content bombarding us daily. Audio helps alleviate the feeling of anxiety and the fear of missing out by allowing us to multitask while staying informed.
Thirdly, listening to audio creates a sense of direct communication, establishing a more trusting atmosphere and aiding concentration. It also compensates for the lack of interpersonal communication. Furthermore, audio formats are highly accessible and cost-effective to produce compared to video, as a regular smartphone with headphones is sufficient for listening.
All these factors contribute to the rapid growth of audio formats, which are gaining popularity worldwide.
Audiobooks replacing ebooks
The global audiobook market was valued at USD 2.67 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32% from 2022 to 2027.
Audiobooks are available on major online bookstores and dedicated audio platforms, covering a wide range of genres for both children and adults. They are often enhanced with sound effects, music, and narrated by renowned actors. New hybrid formats, such as audio series, are also emerging.
How audio reaches the audience
Following the footsteps of YouTube, podcast platforms have granted access to millions of viewers and offered content monetization opportunities for everyone. Launching a podcast has become easily achievable, even with limited resources, either independently or with the assistance of podcast and recording studios.
Initially, this niche was primarily occupied by journalists, presenters, and established bloggers with their own following. However, now podcasts cater to a broad audience, featuring psychologists, film critics, directors, musicians, economists, and various niche topics of interest. Parallel waves of podcasts for general audiences and specific interest-based podcasts have formed, enabling everyone to find their niche and attract fans.
Another significant aspect of audio content is social audio, where listeners actively participate in conversations. The demand for such content gave rise to the Clubhouse social network, although its popularity waned quickly due to the absence of time frames, clear structure, and moderation. Podcasts, on the other hand, excel in storytelling, with well-crafted narratives featuring openings, climaxes, and resolutions.
The impact of sound on us
Sounds play a crucial role in providing knowledge about the world around us. While visual information remains predominant, verbalizing thoughts aloud helps us better remember and organize complex concepts. Sounds have the ability to evoke vivid visual images, memories, and even physical sensations.
This is why background sound is essential in establishments, shops, or massage parlors, as it sets the desired mood and influences behavior. According to a study by the Sound Agency, noise reduction systems in offices increase employee productivity by 46%. The Sound Design Institute is actively involved in developing generative soundscapes, which program our minds in specific ways.
What does the future hold for audio formats
Audio content has been significantly influenced by the pandemic, and its impact is still evident. With more time and a desire for distraction, people have turned to consuming online content, particularly audio, during remote work. For instance, the audience for podcasts on YouTube grew by 42% during self-isolation. Although this surge has subsided, it has left a new user base accustomed to listening to audio content and willing to pay for it.
Recently, Apple introduced support for binaural audio technology in Apple Music, creating a hyper-realistic sound experience by leveraging the features of our hearing and perception. This technology will soon be integrated into FaceTime calls. The Apple TV+ platform has already released the first binaural audio series called "Calls," featuring telephone conversations.
Trailer of the series "Calls"
Simultaneously, the market for voice assistants is expanding, with projections indicating a segment worth $489.5 million by 2026, according to Just AI. Voice commands are increasingly being used to launch music, podcasts, and audiobooks.
IT giants and investors are becoming increasingly interested in innovative audio technologies. In the near future, audio content will continue to evolve alongside new opportunities for listening and interaction. This could include interactive audio series or quests, educational audio simulators, or collections of sounds with special effects for home and office environments."