The “Age of Ears” study, carried out in 2015 by Facit Research, investigated the current use of audio in our society. It discovered that the 63.7 million Germans between the ages of 14 and 59 were divided. On one side, 23.1 million people listen only to music on the FM radio or their own music playing devices. The other 40.6 million, almost two thirds of Germans, already use more modern ways to listen to music. This means digital methods in particular, such a web radio, radio apps, music streaming as well as audio on smartphones, notebooks and more. This group is often referred to as the “digital audio society”.
Even though the study is already over two years old, it shows a very clear development. Audio is becoming more and more regular and used everywhere. A glimpse into the near future is very interesting. In a continuation of the study, there was a glimpse of how the use of audio may look in the year 2025. The basis for it was a qualitative analysis, which was based on expert interviews, secondary studies, current technologies and social development. The results revealed seven significant trends, which will have an effect on the use of audio in the future. Seven trends, which should be particularly relevant for advertisers. Allow me to introduce these trends here.
#1 Connected Audio
As a central driver for all developments in the audio sector, connectivity takes first place as the most important trend. This refers to the complete merger of audio, web and terminal devices. The most important part here is the so-called internet of things: the total interconnectedness of all things in the real physical world with the digital sphere. Thus the space is opened up for new products and services, such as a product order using an in-car system directly after a audio spot on Apple Music. What’s more, the smartphone combines more and more functions as a constant companion and is becoming the central control unit for ConnectedLife. Thanks to location-based services the targeted advertising campaigns are within one’s reach and enables city centre businesses, for example, to send individual offers to customers directly on their smartphones via an app.
#2 Social Audio
A trend which looks at the social aspects of audio use. Firstly, this is about moments that one experiences over social media together with friends and family or with a digital community. The social exchange will occupy a more and more important roll in the audio environment. And so the “togetherness” will also shift onto the virtual platforms and bring with it a drive towards collective enjoyment with audio content such as radio plays, concerts or interactive programmes and podcasts. In addition, in an increasingly global environment, values such as regionality and tradition will become more important. The “regional I” provides personal identification, oriented by regional channels and presenters. Due to growing parallel use of various media, audio stories such as podcasts and audio books are now indispensable. For many, listening has become the new reading. Therefore, sponsored infotainment, or content marketing, plays an important role alongside pure advertising.
#3 Immersive Audio
This is all about a whole new use for audio. It should be a spatial experience and is indeed in all three spatial dimensions. Virtual reality is the key and creates many new advertising possibilities as well as adding significant value for the user. A listener can then be connected to a location-independent, three-dimensional sound experience with the impression of “actually being there”. Lying by the pool on holiday and, at the same time, actually feeling as though at a football stadium, so to speak. Smart audio devices will even recognise the user’s mood and enable the dynamic creation of playlists that are suited to their mood. This new and intensive world of audio experience proposes to build its own world of sound in the background to ensure the recognition value of the brand, unconnected to the visual charms.
#4 Mobile Audio
From the perspective of independent audio enjoyment, this will have a very strong significance in the future. New technological developments are creating headphones and in-ear smart devices, opening doors for the tracking of personal data and therefore revealing individual and relevant target groups. So-called wearables make everyday life easier by tracking eating behaviour or sport, for example, and offer greater opportunities for new collaboration. Speech recognition and speech synthesis creates new products and services as well as establishing a simple approach to new technology. The continually extensive use of audio in cars is discovering a whole new dimension of communication between brand and consumer, thanks to Connected Cars. In a traffic jam, for example, targeted audio spots or push notifications can play restaurant suggestions, sights etc., which are only played for those nearby to hear.
#5 Individual Audio
Despite becoming ever more interconnected and everything becoming global, a development towards individualised, personally tailored audio experiences is defined by your own preferences. And the new audio world offers many opportunities to indulge in this individualisation. By combining current location, time of day and weather information, adverts can be tailored to be personal and relevant for the listener. The increased acceptance of advertising means that listeners like to have it deliberately integrated into their audio environment. This trend also looks out for new special advertising formats that are, to some extent, already available to experience now. For example, a company can book sponsored sessions on Spotify. This means that a company pays for a pre-defined length of time to play adverts, which is presented to the listener as a sponsored session from the company. The user then experiences a wholly individual and direct added value.
#6 Private Audio
In the hectic world of today, audio offers room to retreat and relax. The listener wants and can experience intense audio moments consciously. A personal retreat emerges. ‘Cocooning’ and ‘homing’ are terms for the societal development of the temporary, conscious retreat into a private sphere. Audio makes an important contribution to this. In this way, music generates a feel-good atmosphere and the immersion in the worlds of audio experience, such as audio books, for example, provides comforting relaxation. To some extent, brands also create tailor-made content or “promotional quiet zones” by relinquishing image and sound for a few seconds, followed by a single speaker or setting.
#7 Love Audio
The idea of this trend is obvious from its name. The love of the listening experience. This involves a targeted group of people, who have an above-average relationship with audio. They are serious music lovers, who look for that something special and don’t cringe away from investing a lot of time and money into it. For them, the haptic experience is also important. The revival of vinyl and cassettes is one form of this and makes use of very beautiful merchandise. These people value the aesthetics of audio enjoyment, which is reflected in their interest and readiness to pay for high-priced audio products. On the one hand, they would like an undisturbed, advert-free music experience, but also reward advertising, which is not distracting and is integrated into a setting with exclusive content, with higher acceptance over the long term. Quality is a deciding issue here. If the user is listening to high resolution audio, the quality of the promotional content in streaming mode should not be noticeably worse than the music programme.
They were the 7 trends in the audio sector which will strongly influence the near future or are already influencing the present.
I hope I was able to demonstrate the importance of audio in the future with this article and I will look forward to any discussion or question.
Still not satisfied? I am happy to answer your questions:
david.bumiller (at) schindlerparent.de