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Four Ways to Educate Your Clients About the Future of Smart Speakers in Public Radio

Corporate Support, digital revenue, smart speakers

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If you haven’t already seen The Smart Audio Report, fielded by NPR and Edison Research earlier this year, it contains some interesting and encouraging information about the impact of smart speakers (Alexa Echo aka Alexa, Google Home etc.) on public radio and audio consumption in general.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Smart speaker owners LOVE their smart speakers. They own multiple, and would not want to go back to life without them.
  • Smart speakers are a conduit to more listening. Once someone has a smart speaker, they listen to more audio.
  • Smart-speaker owners index high for internet streaming sources. They are likely to have a paid subscription. This is especially true when it comes to music; smart-speaker owners spend lots of time listening to music, more so than to news.
  • But, listening to the news via these devices is also happening, as is listening to podcasts and audiobooks (to a lesser degree).
  • People like smart speakers to easily and gradually control aspects of their home, like turning on/off lights, adjusting the thermostat, etc.
  • Children love smart speakers and parents do too, since the speaker makes it easier to entertain the kids! Older and/or single users also value the companionship that the smart speaker provides.
  • Amazon’s Alexa dominates right now, but Google is looking at a new product due near Christmas time with a more affordable price point.

Edison research also presented a webinar on The Smart Audio Report. Check out the following time stamps for specific user testimonials about how they use and value smart speakers:

  • 10:05 (general convenience)
  • 17:28 (music)
  • 21:10 (news one)
  • 25:20 (smart home)
  • 30:00 (parenting)
  • 33:45 (companionship)

But what does this mean for corporate sponsorship and underwriting?

There really aren’t any revenue opportunities right now in conjunction with the smart speakers. So what should you do in the meantime? Consider these four helpful tips from NPM’s Bryan Moffett:

1. View smart speakers as a conduit to your audio stream, as smart-speaker listening adds audience and measurement to your stream. Once you’ve built your audience and brand on this platform, you will be able to sell inventory against it down the road.

2. Amazon (Alexa) doesn't yet have interactive ad units (i.e. the ability to support “learn more” functionality etc.) But these kinds of ads are of interest and will get there as more audiences and brands are built in this space (and advertisers start to understand its value). 

3. The best thing to do right now is to educate your clients about the space and position yourself as a go-to source for smart-speaker information and media strategy. Use the NPR/Edison deck and corresponding user videos to do so. There will likely be new data to add these resources by January, especially around the use of smart speakers by parents and families. 

4. If you don’t already have a “Flash Briefing Skill” built for your station for Alexa, you should think about doing so. Alexa “skills” are akin to domain names back in the '90s and so there will likely be a land grab in the space as there was for URLs during that decade. Touch base with your digital team about this. Firms like JACAPPS and XAPP can help with this and it is relatively inexpensive to do. Also check in with NPR Digital Services as some work has been done to try and make sense of the various local and national streams available via Alexa. 

Listen to a webinar on selling to data hungry underwriters >

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