Why Fortune 500 Companies are Embracing Audio & What It Means for Your Business

Major companies like Spotify and Amazon spent over $1 billion on audio last year. Here’s why they did it and what it means for your business.

Why Fortune 500 Companies are Embracing Audio & What It Means for Your Business

Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t – and maybe we’re forcing puns on you too quickly.

Audio is making big waves (there we go again…) this year and it’s fueled by some major consumer trends.

Just look at the rise in smart speakers, now owned by one in four adults, or voice assistants, which are used by 56% of adults 18 or older in the US.**

...Or this guy, who’s coined 2021 as ‘the year of the ear.’

As a response, big companies are shifting resources towards audio content.

Why Are Major Fortune 500 Companies Investing in Audio?

Just in 2020 alone, major companies like Amazon and Spotify spent over $1 billion in the audio space with their marketing and advertising budgets.

These big investments from tech companies are built on the underlying assumption that audio demand will only grow with mobile phone and smart home technology, making it more accessible for everyone.

When the biggest players vote on audio content with their dollars, the market tends to follow.

What Does ‘Audio Content’ Mean?

Audio content is exactly what it sounds like – branded, spoken content you can access across any device with a speaker. There are a few different types of audio content available in 2021:

  • Podcasts: Once Google announced they would begin indexing podcasts in 2019, major companies largely embraced this medium, ruining it for all of us and burying the stuff we actually want to listen to. Jokes aside, there are some benefits to big companies spending their resources on this medium, and it’s a tactic you can consider too. We wrote about the pros and cons of starting your own individual or company podcast here.
  • Audiobooks: Largely reserved for prominent authors and popular titles, audiobooks have risen in popularity thanks to their sheer accessibility. You no longer have to put your life on hold to pick up that Malcolm Gladwell book you’ve been meaning to read for the last five years. You can now listen to it while you cook, while you commute, or even while you grocery shop – looking for any signs of life from avocados that aren’t either rock hard or practically liquid.
  • Voice Search: SEO is no longer limited to written content built to be skimmed between meetings. Check out this infographic to see the rise in voice search trends and how more of us are using it to make decisions. Your optimized content now needs to account for the way people speak, not just the way they type.
  • Audio Advertisements: Corporate money injected into podcasting and audiobooks – paired with rising consumer audio preferences – means that advertising on these platforms is now easier than ever. While it’s not as cheap as it was a few years ago, the sheer volume of podcasts out there means more opportunity to find and advertise on ones that are laser-focused on your target audience.
  • eBooks and Content Marketing: The rise in audiobook popularity can be translated into an audio marketing strategy, by repurposing your thought leadership and creating ways for listeners to engage with it. Using tools like, say, Allears, or your own custom recording mix to turn your written offers and blog posts into accessible audio recordings can help you create a whole new way for folks to engage with your content.

So You’re Saying Robots Can Auto-Record My Blog Posts?

While there are a lot of tools out there that will automatically transcribe your writing into a soulless, artificially-made audio recording, we strongly recommend recording with your own voice instead.

It gives you the chance to add emotion and character in the right areas, avoid the inevitable weird moments of poorly-chosen robot emphasis, and connect with your audience by showing your own unique personality.

Wait, I Shouldn’t just “Hire” Siri to Rattle Off My Latest Five Tips Post?

Adding your own voice to your content mix helps you differentiate yourself in a very crowded landscape of AI-fueled, corporate content. Plus, your voice can help your listeners get to know you in a new way – one that combines the power of your writing with the power of your speaking voice, helping with underrated things like, say, audience retention and loyalty. They’ll want to hear from you – not another monotonous audio drone – which, let’s be honest, would make your writing sound pretty bad anyways.

And, yes, a robot may be quicker. So is writing a bad blog post instead of writing a good one. Outstanding writing stands out. It’s been true for content marketing in the past, it’s true for content marketing now, and it will be true for content marketing in the future.

So put on your smoothest FM DJ voice, and consider recording your content with your own voice to engage deeper and grow your audience.

** Data from Media Behaviors and Influence study from Prosper Insights & Analytics