Spotify’s investment in audiobooks and its impact on marketing strategies

Spotify’s investment in audiobooks and its impact on marketing strategies

Since I started living alone, consuming different content in audio format has become more and more present in my routine: I listen to the latest news in a podcast that is broadcast daily at 6 am, I usually prepare lunch while listening to crime stories real and I often listen to some guided meditation to help me fall asleep at night. All this after remote work: Until then, the way to work was accompanied by several audiobooks.

Considering myself part of the audience of people who often prefer to consume content through their headphones, I was struck when, last week, Spotify executives announced to their investors that the company’s next bet is audiobooks, and that they would become the new mainstay of the business.

Spotify CEO Daniel Esk said: “We think audiobooks, in their many different forms, are going to be a great opportunity.” Following last year’s announcement of the acquisition of Findaway, an audiobook platform that allows authors to create, distribute and monetize their work, this company plan has become more visible.

Why Spotify is investing in audiobooks

It’s not hard to see why Spotify has turned its efforts in this new direction. In 2010, data from the Audio Publishers Association noted that 6,200 audiobooks were produced; in 2015, that number was close to 36,000; but just five years later, in 2020, that figure has almost doubled: 71,500 new audiobooks produced.

According to Grand View Research, the global audiobook market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 26.4% between 2022 and 2030 to reach $35.05 billion by 2030. That sounds good, right?

This is probably happening for a social reason: with Gen Z and Millennials as its main consumers, the audiobook market is dealing directly with a young and busy audience that has no time to waste.

Born and raised with the technological advances of the last few decades, these youngsters are used to multitasking, often sharing the focus of manual tasks with something that requires more concentration.

For many representatives of these generations, multitasking optimizes time and makes it more productive: that is why so many young people take the opportunity to listen to an audiobook or a podcast while they wash the dishes, hang out the clothes, walk the dog or clean the house.

Unlike the video format, they don’t have to stare at the screen to stay focused or fully understand the subject.

So it’s no surprise that research from the Audio Publishers Association shows that 54% of audiobook listeners are under the age of 45, and that among Americans 13 and older, consumption of this content format has grown 60% since 2017.

And according to Grand Review Research, “The rising popularity of audiobooks among the younger generation is predicted to drive market growth, as these individuals are likely to encourage their families and inspire their peers, resulting in a group largest number of potential customers.

But if, on the one hand, the advancement of technology allowed the increase in sales of audiobooks – since consumers can listen to their favorite books on their cell phones and no longer store them on CDs and cassettes -, the interest in products and content ” retro” also explains the trend of the listening format.

According to Spotify’s Culture Next 2022 Report, over 73% of Gen Z respondents said they like retro products or content, and we can say that the audio-centric content experience is nothing more than the return of the era of radio, now, with wireless headphones and no noise from poor reception.

The COVID-19 pandemic also played an important role in the audiobook market: data from the same survey shows that since the lockdown – where many people had to adapt their work routines to the home office – there has been a considerable increase in the consumption of podcasts and audiobooks, while many users were looking for a moment “without screens” and different ways to relax at home.

In a market where free time is disputed by different consumer channels and different streaming services, I would dare to say that Spotify is betting heavily on our attention: before a generation that is perhaps visually fatigued between so many series, movies and videos, the Combo music + podcasts + audiobooks seems like a good way for the company.

How audiobooks can be a good marketing channel

With all the growth potential of the audio content industry, what would be the main challenges of advertising in such a specific consumer format?

The advantages seem to be clearer: taking into account everything he has seen so far about the audiobook industry, the CEO of Spotify himself said: “what our successes in music and podcasts have clearly shown is that we have built a powerful machine and a solid infrastructure that allows us to look for new verticals”.

This seems like a demonstration of how big the audience of available audiobooks is and how much advertising can be reached through the platform. The company expects to reach a global audience of more than 422 million users by entering the audiobook industry.

But in addition to the channel and offers with new subscriptions, book previews, different access plans to specific books, and even freemium subscription options from Spotify, it is essential to analyze how the audiobook format and its distribution impact companies and marketers, advertisers and Marketing Agencies.

Find your audio audience

First, it’s important to understand that the audience for audiobooks is fundamentally different from the audience for print books, and Spotify knows that better than anyone.

It is not about “updating” a type of user consumption, but about learning that they are different formats, with similar purposes, which is why companies that invest in personalized and specific Audio Marketing strategies tend to find good (and creative) growth opportunities.

The next step to take advantage of this channel in an assertive way is nothing new: get to know your person! As Ardath Albee said : “A marketing person is a summary of a key segment of your audience. For Content Marketing purposes, you need people who deliver really relevant and useful content to your audience”.

Therefore, the person will help you determine the types of content you will create, what tone to use, what your growth strategy will be and, above all, if you will invest in creating audiobooks or advertising your services or products in audio ads.

So use the persona to identify your potential customer’s buying journey or journey and understand the particularities of the segment of people who consume content in audio format. With that in hand, you will be able to find possible investment niches: podcasts and audiobooks that may relate to your product or service.

Say what they want to hear

After identifying the best channels for the dissemination of your content, it is necessary to define the type of content that your audience is willing to listen to and, therefore, it is essential to produce content that is relevant, educational and always related to interesting topics for you.

If you have already produced a lot of content teaching something step by step, how about developing small audiobooks with these instructions? Have you ever thought about turning your top 10 blog articles into a series of podcast episodes?

Although more challenging for advertising, this channel allows marketers to explore creativity and encourages more personal and connected approaches with the audience.

According to Spotify Culture Next 2022, “The audio helps Zs explore the most specific sides of themselves and discover identities they never knew they had. In fact, 80% of Z Americans said audio allows them to explore different sides of their personalities.”

And unlike the passive entertainment of movies and TV series, audio-drama series offer an immersive experience, spark the imagination and stimulate the listener’s creativity.

So take advantage of the channel to explore the imagination of those who are listening, always in order to generate value, not just to sell something!

Find good partners

As The New York Times noted in 2021, digital influencers play a significant role in defining today’s consumer culture. So when strategizing in the audio content market, it’s interesting to look at these numbers as a new, and often efficient, path to reach Gen-Z and Millennials.

You can find well-known podcasters to promote your product or service, even outside of the audio format. After all, many of them already occupy a position of digital influence on other platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

This makes the audiobook even more shareable content, which can further boost your social media presence and mentions.

But if you prefer to invest directly in promoting audiobooks and podcasts, offering a unique and exclusive discount code to listeners of this content can be a good option.

However, for more assertive data tracking, it is advisable to submit a specific link to be added to the episode description.

Learn from those who have already done it

A good example of investment in audiobooks is when the dimensions of the same content speak in different formats.

Let me explain better: the Harry Potter series, originally released in print book format, has already been made into a movie and had its actors strongly related to the roles played in the movie series. 

Last year, Spotify announced the audiobook release of the first book in the series narrated by celebrities including Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter), Stephen Fry (who read all the audiobooks in the series), Eddie Redmayne (who plays a wizard in the series that preceded Harry Potter, “Fantastic Beasts”) and even the world famous soccer player David Beckham.

Another example is described by Maria Snelling in “The audiobook market and its adaptation to cultural changes”. It is the true crime podcast “My Favorite Murder”, which boosted the sales of the Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered audiobook, due to collation between formats. Reading the book in audio format, according to the article, was “disproportionately more successful” than the print book.

I hope these tips can help you understand and invest more in strategies related to audio content format. You will surely find interesting opportunities!

Samuel Edwards
Samuel Edwards is the name you must have heard many times while reading reports related to Finance, that's what he is good at. From Major Investments to Stock Market Updates, he got 'em all. Be ready to blow your mind by the mind-blowing reports of Finance World from Samuel Edwards.