Arjun Kolady of Spotify on why brands need to focus on audio

March 13, 2020 7:50 AM

As per the IFPI Music Consumer Insight report, on average, Indians spend two and a half hours per day streaming audio

On podcasts, 81% of listeners take action as a result of listening to host-read endorsementsOn podcasts, 81% of listeners take action as a result of listening to host-read endorsements

In India, we move fast. We jumped from dial-up to 4G, and from landlines to smartphones, leapfrogging the intermediate technologies. This is similar to what has happened with our content consumption — increased awareness has led to wider adoption of streaming. While video has led from the front line in changing this consumer behaviour, audio streaming is catching up fast. However, unlike the video wars, where content is a key differentiator (think IPL only on Hotstar, or Sacred Games only on Netflix), on audio platforms, the difference is in the listener experience. The better the discovery of content and personalisation of the service, the higher the time spent and brand love for the platform.

As per the IFPI Music Consumer Insight report, on average, Indians spend two and a half hours per day streaming audio. This time is spread across the day, and reflects various moments — from commuting to working out, cooking, partying and even sleeping; consumers are looking for content that complements these moments. This is also their ‘plugged-in’ time, wherein there are no visual distractions.

Not just music to the ears

Unlike music, which is often ‘lean back’, podcasts are a ‘lean forward’ experience. In today’s pop culture, politics is an unavoidable topic — from late-night monologues and viral videos, to online debates and offline opinions, we’re a far cry from the apathetic hipster culture that ushered in the 21st century. Sixty-eight percent of Gen Z and millennial consumers feel that brands need to promote more progressive values, and play a more meaningful role in society. Podcasts have opened the door to develop a deep connection with people who agree with your views, and sometimes, even with those who think differently than you.

But podcasts are not just about politics. They have passionate audiences for very specific topics ranging from cricket to love and relationships, and from comedy to fiction and storytelling. Brands can tap into these niche communities, and equally into pop culture trends, with messaging that reflects the thinking of these deeply engaged audiences.

Audio is different from video; it’s a deeply personal experience, designed for 1:1 communication, unlike TV or radio. People are open to discovering new sonic experiences.

On podcasts, 81% of listeners take action as a result of listening to host-read endorsements, like looking up a product online, connecting with a brand on social media, and talking about a product with someone else.

Eyes vs ears

After a decade of dominance by visual media and culture, sound is taking centre stage. In recent times, Gen Z and millennial audiences are looking to break away from being glued to screens — 56% of Gen Z and millennial audiences agree that audio is an escape from too much visual stimulation. Through playlists, podcasts, connected cars, gaming consoles, smart speakers and more, sound surrounds us every day, everywhere.

Seventy-nine percent of the time spent listening occurs where visual media cannot reach these listeners. Hence brands that are heavily invested in video, and are engaged in cutthroat and expensive competition for eyeballs on the usual digital platforms, have a big opportunity to shift focus to audio and engage in deeper, more emotional, uncluttered and safe ways with their target consumer, and measure real-world impact of their advertising.

The author is head of sales – India, Spotify

Read Also: Why Truecaller calls India its home market

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