There are a lot of things you can worry about when it comes to your website. Arguably, one of the most important is time your visitors spend on it. If you want a clear sign of how your audience feels about it – that’s the one. Not being around long enough to browse more of your content means you’re not doing everything you can to keep your visitors longer. One common excuse is the shrinking attention span in this digital era.
While that may or may not be true (I’ll get to that in a minute), the fact is that modern lifestyle supported by consumer technology plays an important role in distracting us. As a species, we are wired to be cognitively distracted which is a perfectly fine excuse. However, it’s also an opportunity that can improve engagement and increase the time your visitors spend on your website. That opportunity is audio.
A new way of engaging your audience
When someone mentions the human attention span, one of the most quoted studies you can find online is Microsoft’s goldfish study. Due to an increasingly digitalized lifestyle, our average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds since 2000. That means we have one second shorter attention span than those little aquatic pets.
While that myth has been debunked, a paper published in Nature Communications suggests that the length of time our collective attention has decreased. Increasing production and consumption of content are resulting in topics becoming popular and then dropped at an accelerating rate. While it’s hard to quantify how our individual ability to pay attention is affected, the study does highlight a pattern of how our attention span is influenced by content.
Still, one good thing came out of that Microsoft study. Apparently, our ability to multitask has significantly improved, largely thanks to the brain’s ability to adjust over time, particularly in relation to the evolving digitalization. By being able to focus in short bursts, we gain a better sense of what is worthy of our attention and better remember particular things.
I don’t know if you noticed, but we’re smack in the middle in the audio revolution that corroborates this narrative. Everything is on the go these days. We frequently do one thing while we’re doing another, and that kind of multitasking is ideal for audio content to leverage. This is especially true as people progressively move away from screens and settle on speakers and headphones.
There’s less time (or patience, whatever way you look at it) to go through a full article in one sitting. This leads to casual browsing and glancing over content, causing significant drops in user engagement across the board. It’s all about convenience and efficiency these days, and audio content offers both.
Here’s how I know there’s an ongoing audio revolution: US population who listens to online audio (defined as listening to AM/FM radio stations online and/or listening to streamed audio content only available online) has doubled since 2012, growing from one-third of the population to two-thirds. Furthermore, time spent listening to online audio has reached nearly 17 hours of listening on a weekly basis – an all-time high. That’s just one set of stats – there’s plenty more. The most obvious example of these numbers is podcasting. For years, it’s been a relatively quiet industry that was on the outskirts of any meaningful conversation. Thanks to tremendous growth in the past couple of years, podcasting is the big digital audio story that’s not only attracting more and more audience but also investments which will provide new monetization opportunities.
This is where contech (content technology) steps in as a means to increase engagement and time spent on your website.
From readers to listeners
We’ve come to a point where offering an experience based on reading alone is not enough. Audio as a relatively new channel has broken into the mainstream, in large part thanks to contech that’s turning readers into listeners. The best part is you can easily do the same.
The first order of business is to leverage both your existing and previous content and convert it into an audio format. The simplest and most efficient way is to add a native audio player. Basically, this is a small piece of code that you place wherever you want on your page (usually, it’s at the very top), and let it do the rest. It scans the content on that page and automatically adds an audio version of it in just a few minutes.
From there on, you can tinker on how to best blend it with the look and feel of your site, as well as fine-tune various audio options. These include the preferred language, playback speed, male or female voice, its tone, and other things to provide seamless listening experience.
The native audio player opens the doors to engaging your audience in a new, yet natural way so that they stick around longer despite other influences on their attention span. The fact that the audio player continues playback, even if they browse through your other content, and allows them to listen while doing so certainly helps. It’s already become an important part of the retention strategy of various publishers who are realizing there’s a growing demand for audio.
Adding audio is just a beginning
With voice technology maturing, audio content adoption will continue to grow as contech capabilities develop further. Adding audio to your repertoire is only the first step: content aggregation and recommendation will increase engagement by providing trending and related content of your choice, while the ensuing monetization of audio content will open a whole new revenue channel.
We are already witnessing the gradual shift from smartphones to the in-dash ‘infotainment’ systems with built-in Internet connectivity in vehicles (as the next battleground for user’s attention) as the primary means of delivering audio content. It’s a clear indicator of efforts to replicate the familiar and personalized experience of audio in different environments to further make life easier and more convenient. I ask you this: is there a reason why your site should be any different?