Why Audio Is a Fast Growing Commodity and How Businesses Are Capitalizing on It

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<p>Paul Bradbury/Getty Images</p>

Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

These questions originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answers by Michael Mignano, CEO and Co-founder, Anchor, on Quora:

A: Thanks to smartphones, digital audio is exploding. Sixty-one percent of Americans listen to digital radio monthly, and nearly a quarter listen to podcasts monthly. And with some of the biggest companies in the world investing in smart speakers, microphones, and content, audio and voice will only become more popular in the coming years. Audio is great because it saves you time, and with the onslaught of content constantly at our fingertips, consumers are turning to it for efficiency. Companies and investors know this, and we’re all working to build products that fill the needs of these listeners - ideally before they even know what those needs are.

A: It’s been interesting to see the rise of video and how it’s used in everyday life, especially since it’s arguably the most involved medium that requires the most attention since includes visuals, movement and audio. For years companies like Apple and Samsung have been touting their camera quality, but it’s pretty rare that they reference how audio has improved. One thing I take away from this is simply what a visual society we live in, but it’s also been a major marketing push from companies that want to invest in video.

Conversely, audio made a rise of its own and has consistently been one of the top ways people in the U.S. get their news and music. I personally would argue that the biggest factor here is that audio is the most versatile medium - it takes little active effort to listen to something, but there’s still amazing potential for learning and retention. We can see its prevalence every day simply based on how many people are walking around with headphones on, and similarly to the trajectory of video, content creators and advertisers are catching on to the best ways to use the medium to their advantage and engage listeners through sound.

A: The opportunities are really wide open. There are many models to explore, most of which have been tried and tested in the context of other mediums: subscriptions, ad-supported content, even allowing fans to tip creators or pre-order products to fund their work. There’s already a lot of movement toward advertising on podcasts (between 2015 and 2016, podcast ads grew at a rate of 72%), and we think a content model that encourages more short-form, interactive work also opens up new opportunities for allowing creators to make money. This might be directly from their audience, or through the platform - it’s something we’re thinking about a lot at Anchor, as monetization for creators is a big part of our mission.

I anticipate that over the next few years we’ll see the industry try a number of things, and it’s not likely that there will be a one-size-fits-all solution for every service or even every creator.

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