Think of it as the latest development in The Big Audio Expansion: Amazon’s Amp, the latest of a host of audio-only social streaming platforms, following the footsteps of competitors big and small alike.
It follows a number of initiatives – from Twitter’s Spaces and Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms to Spotify’s Greenroom – all built on the Clubhouse concept, eager to get a stake in ‘social audio’.
It is clear, then, that the world of audio has been given a new lease of life. But what does this mean when it comes to our audiences, or consumer behaviours? Furthermore, what does this mean for the advertising industry?
1. The reign of hyper-personalised content continues
Apps like Amp demonstrate that the audio world is still evolving. There is a demand for ultimate personalisation, extending towards what we listen to and how we listen to it. In John Ciancutti, Amp’s Vice President’s own words: “Amp infuses what listeners love about radio with what’s made possible by today’s technology.”
Amp places an emphasis on individual creativity and contributions, which in turn feeds into the bigger trend of choice and increasingly curated content. The audience has a chance to be ‘prod-users’, making at the same time as they consume, building an “infinite dial of shows” (Ciancutti). And this is big news for the rest of the media industry, and all its players.
2. Unlimited shows = unlimited advertising opportunities
While Amazon plans for Amp to be a primarily music focused platform, with a host of big names already lined up for recordings, from Nicki Minaj to Pusha T and Tefi Pessoa, the fact is that they are encouraging individuals to become creators. If this takes off – and a celebrity backing will encourage it to hit the ground running – then monetisation is just round the corner.
And while this definitely opens up opportunities for brands when it comes to working with influencers and brand ambassadors, it also means there is a new medium for them to keep their finger on the cultural pulse, finding ways to access and reach new audiences at every turn. It allows brands to better understand their audiences, and gives them new ways to communicate with them, in a way that appeals to them/fits their lifestyle.
3. Social audio should be part of every marketing mix
With Amazon’s long-term goal to grow the platform to the size of the radio industry, marketers can trust in the fact that audio advertising is here to stay. When you think of Amazon’s offerings you can see how this slots into their wider marketing strategy, with AI and Alexa slowly becoming integrated into households, electronic devices, and even cars. Projections for audio services ad spending is set to hit $6,21 billion this year, and $7.89 billion by 2025.
Taking this into consideration, it’s easy to see how audio can play a key part in advertising. Upper-funnel ads can effortlessly be inserted in between shows, music, or podcasts, and listeners can simply request further information on anything that catches their interest: guaranteeing both a receptive audience and a smooth consumer journey.
4. As consumer behaviours change, so will social audio spaces
Platforms such as TikTok, who are venturing into live streaming, may well look to maximise their reach further by extending into music and talk opportunities. But if the rise and fall of Clubhouse has taught us anything, it is that while audio remains an exciting opportunity, specific platforms are still liable to failure. Yes, an overarching trend towards audio is undeniable, but brands and advertisers alike should stay mindful of fads and empty promises.
What does this mean in practice? Well, we know that while the return to the workplace definitely contributed to the demise of Clubhouse, there is still a sizable appetite for both streaming and audio content: up to 176 million Americans tune in to audio media, listening to roughly 15 billion hours of podcasts. My advice here would be to keep eyes and ears open, and work with informed partners that guarantee quality ad delivery across a range of publishers.
5. A note on brand safety
The fact that Clubhouse was embroiled in its own content issues shows that no content-first platform is completely without risk. However, this should not scare away brands or advertisers: any new endeavour involves some risk, and the level of reach audio social promises far outweighs the benefits of playing safe and staying out of it.
As technologies such as automated transcription evolve, lightening the load of moderator teams – Amazon has announced 24-hour content moderation – and other solutions emerge, the unknown will diminish, leaving space for opportunity.