Anyone who stares a phone or computer screen all day knows the toll it can take. Not just because of the screen fatigue, but because of the visual overload. There’s only so much information and exposure to light-emitting devices our eyes can take before we start to feel the effects. These can range from headaches and eye strain to fear, anxiety and irritability.
The fix, of course, is to step away from the screen to give your eyes a break. Many are doing exactly that by turning to audio. We’re not necessarily talking about music, either. We’re talking about spoken word audio that includes podcasts, audiobooks, narrated articles and other forms of spoken content.
The popularity of spoken word audio has seen a surge in recent years, growing by 30% from 2014 to 2020 alone. About 75% of Americans listen to spoken word audio every month, with 43% listening on a daily basis. While that may still fall behind video’s 55% of daily viewers, audio is certainly giving video a run for its money.
As mentioned in our previous blog on 2023 Voice Over Trends, the online audience is doing less looking and more listening – and here’s why.
Audio Reduces Screen Time
Getting away from screen fatigue and visual information overload are major reasons why people are shifting their attention to audio.
Nearly 40% of all consumers admit to using their phones too much, and that’s not the only alarming smartphone addiction statistic.
- 50% of smartphone users said they felt uneasy if they left their phones at home
- 26% of car accidents are caused by cell phone use while driving
- 58% of smartphone users have tried to limit their screen time, but only 41% succeeded
Millennials and Gen Zs are particularly concerned with reducing screen time, with around 70% saying they prefer audio because they’re too absorbed on their phones all day long.
Audio Lets You Multitask
Perhaps even more important than reducing screen time, audio gives people the freedom to listen while they’re walking, working out, cooking, playing games or taking care of any number of other tasks. It’s convenient, portable and doesn’t require your visual attention.
A notable 71% of monthly audio listeners say the ability to multitask is the number one reason they’re drawn to audio. Reading or watching videos demands we pay attention to what’s on the screen. Audio lets us do other things. It’s the perfect choice for anyone with a busy lifestyle.
Audio is also the perfect choice for others who simply want to fill time or stay entertained, which accounts for 25% of podcast listeners.
Audio Makes Info More Engaging
How many times have you read the same sentence or page only to realize you have no idea what you just read? That’s because it’s easy for our reading to go into autopilot while our brains are actually wandering off, thinking about something else. (aha, caught you… thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner, or your next pickleball date!) The end result is a lot of reading with not a lot of information retained.
Combining audio with the written word is helpful for some, while others are most absorbed when listening to audio on its own. A full 60% of podcast listeners report that spoken-word audio helps them absorb and process information.
Tests conducted by UCL Consultants also found that listening to audiobooks can produce a stronger emotional reaction than watching that same story unfold on a screen. That’s right. Audiobooks can actually be more engaging than heading to the movies or watching TV.
Without the visuals attached to the story, listeners are free to fire up their imaginations. And our imaginations can typically outdo anything we see on the screen.
What the Audio Surge Means for Brands
Many brands have already hopped on the audio bandwagon, with digital audio ad spending projected to increase 14% to $10.14 billion in 2023. Because audio taps into the use of the imagination, brands can create highly effective ads that allows audience members to picture themselves enjoying their products.
Advertising isn’t the only way brands can reach a wider audience with audio, either. Audio branding involves the use of spoken word or music as part of the customer experience. It can be done across the board, with podcasts on your website, distinctive messages for your phone system, and just the right mix of music and spoken word recordings in your brick-and-mortar shops.
Creating a sonic logo is another way to associate a specific sound or spoken catchphrase with your brand.
The Role of Voice Over in the Audio Boom
Even though more and more people are turning to audio, they’re likely to quickly turn it off if they’re presented with something they don’t like. Irritating voices can easily be one of those somethings. Even if you find a pleasant voice to use for your audio projects, it won’t be effective unless it truly aligns with your brand.
Hiring a professional voice actor lets you:
- Choose a voice that matches your brand’s style, tone, personality and messaging
- Create multiple audio projects with the same actor to ensure consistency and build audience trust
- Take advantage of the creativity and expertise that experienced voice actors bring to the table
- Partner with a pro for guidance on your scripts and vocal delivery options
- Amass a library of high-quality recordings to use with a range of projects
- Grab attention, elicit emotion and produce memorable audio that keeps your brand at the top of people’s minds
While AI narration is an option for audiobooks and other projects, working with a real human being is still the most effective way to get exactly what you need in the way of results. Not only that, but you also get the opportunity to develop valuable partnerships that can last a lifetime.
It’s been noted that audio hasn’t seen this kind of popularity since the advent of the Walkman in the early 1980s. The momentum is there, and it it shows no signs of slowing down.
- Creators are publishing compelling audio content
- Listeners are gobbling it up in droves
- Advertisers are investing in digital ads
- Tech is presenting new solutions, software and hardware to make listening to and creating audio content even easier and more convenient
Professional voice over actors are contributing to the cycle by delivering exceptional results that match your brand’s style, personality and messaging. If you have yet to explore the world of audio, it might be time to find out what it can do for your brand. After all, there are a lot of listeners out there who are surely eager to hear what’s next!