(By Buzz Knight) In this edition of The Future of Audio Buzz speaks to Ben Arnold, industry analyst at the NPD Group. Ben previously served as Senior Director, Innovation and Trends for The Consumer Technology Association.
Ben’s expertise in emerging trends and his passion for technology and culture makes him perfect to tap for knowledge on our future.
BK: What audio trends do you see evolving in our business in the next three to five years?
BA: In terms of audio trends, I think we are seeing the hype around digital assistants and voice control begin to quiet down. Digital assistant access in speakers and headphones is a given these days and consumers are comfortable enough using these applications to queue up music or access information- however I don’t think it is a major driver of sales. Everything right now is about content- music streaming services, gaming, video, podcasts. The pandemic has given rise to more consumer investment in content devices and services. Although our routines have been disrupted (I know that is a big challenge for radio) I believe consumers are finding new routines. Audio continues to be a growth driver in electronics, so we know that consumers have multiple ways to engage with content. I think the opportunity for radio is in harnessing the interest in content and all the options people have (from a tech device perspective) for consuming it.
BK: How do you see radio’s future when considering the disruptive forces around us?
BA: Pandemic aside, I think consumers’ interest in content and the continued investment in listening devices are good things for radio. It’s unclear what the enduring impact of the pandemic will be, but something we can bank on is that travelling and commuting will be vastly different for a lot of people. This is a big challenge, but I don’t think peoples’ affinity for the content changes. Maybe instead of listening for 45 minute chunks in the morning and afternoon, the change in routine drives people to listen in multiple but shorter increments. Perhaps more people move to listening to radio on their mobile devices. Maybe this adds a new opportunity for targeted ads or new forms of ad units.
BK: What are the leadership challenges for radio’s executives?
BA: All of these changes represent a shift in how people consume audio content. I think executives should be in tune with how technology is changing listener habits and have the courage to explore new opportunities. Companies with innovation in their DNA will be best suited to turn these changes into opportunities.
Buzz Knight is the CEO of Buzz Knight Media and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]