My listening habits

This is a time of turbulent change – both individually and collectively.

Personally, I have been one of the 8.4 million furloughed employees since the start of May, although before that we had been working from home for the entirety of April. 

This situation has been a difficult one to navigate, with tough questions asked of our abilities to communicate particularly. But it is the absence of my normal routine that has interested me most; no more commute; no more office camaraderie; and for most days, a noticeable absence of human contact in general. 

Now, this decided shift in our human behaviour has impacted almost every facet of human life in the last couple of months: families have been forced together, for better or worse. People of all age groups have turned to video meeting services like Zoom or Google Hangout to stay connected both professionally and personally. And most importantly to me: people’s listening habits have changed

You see, I’m a little geeky for all things audio – and understanding how, why and where people are listening to audio content is crucial in understanding how we can leverage audio content for top quality audio advertising. 

There are a couple of key pieces of research I’d like to highlight specifically here. We can find the where people listen from the latest RAJAR statistics: we see that people listen at work, in their car, or at home, and through DAB radio mostly – although each year there is a rise in listeners on connected devices, which mostly consists of mobile phone listeners currently. Next, we see in the Hear and Now study that engagement in an advert rises by 23% when heard concurrently with a relevant activity. This is how people listen. Lastly, 77% of people see radio as their most trusted source for news, as well as being the nation’s happiest medium. This, very briefly, is why people listen. 

So, when a large global pandemic grinds the world to a halt, and human behaviours begin to change drastically seemingly overnight, this becomes an issue for us audiophiles. How exactly have listening habits changed? 

Well, this isn’t an easy answer. 

Amidst global panic, it appears every research team and their dog are trying to calculate what is rising and falling in the world of content consumption. Particularly, I’ve seen conflicting reports on TV viewing figures, as well as radio listening figures. 

Ultimately, It’s difficult to trust much of the research – these studies were undertaken quickly, with approximations of figures, and in some cases probably with a specific agenda. 

Hence we are left with what we know. So, although I’m fully aware that I am a sample of one, I’d like to speak a little about how my listening habits have been changed during this pandemic – and what this could mean for the world of audio advertising. 

First, I’m listening more and more each day. My girlfriend is a key worker, so in between spontaneous rounds of applause to honour her service at the DWP, I have a lot of time to fill in my day with a severely limited amount of human interaction. 

I, like many I assume, have been filling this conversational void with audio content. For the most part, this comes in the way of podcasts as I go about my bumbling routine of sorting a bit of the flat, doing a bit of training and finishing off my day with a bit of cooking. I even fall asleep most nights now to the tumultuous and often bizarre arguments found on late night LBC. 

Increased listening has obvious advantages to audio advertising: I’m currently consuming far more brand messaging than I was previously through audio. 

We can also see how my listening has changed: Whilst usually I’d be listening solely during my commute, as well as sometimes at work and whilst I cook, I now find myself listening during a wide variety of activities. This offers a chance to engage me whilst I’m exercising, gaming, cleaning, shopping – if I’m doing it, I’ll be listening, and that’s a chance for a brand to engage with me. 

This is important as it opens the door to brands from industries that previously haven’t considered this avenue to have success in audio advertising as the world’s behaviour changes. 

Further, whilst usually I’d be streaming audio almost exclusively through my mobile phone, I find myself now at home using a variety of technologies to access audio content. 

In using devices such as my Xbox, smart speaker or laptop, I’m now accessible to brands from a new variety of touchpoints. Particularly when using the smart speaker and laptop, I’m closer to a web browser whilst listening, meaning I can follow an advertisement much quicker than I previously could, or would. 

Lastly, this increased listening is almost certainly because I want to feel happier. The content is filling my days and making me feel as if I’m not sat in an empty flat all day, every day. 

And remarkably, I’ve found, after a lot of soul searching, that I’m not just listening to LBC for the politicised and often baffling arguing. I’m listening because I don’t trust other media sources to deliver me the news without some agenda, or fearmongering, or just plain confusion – and LBC specifically, and radio generally, despite often polarised points of view clashing unceremoniously, tends to find a little balance in the middle. 

This climate is not easily solved with knee jerk reactions, nor by burying a brand’s proverbial head in the sand. Instead, I think we must be sensible, and clever, and human. 

And believe in audio, as so many of us are doing. 

We’d love to chat to you about the opportunity to get your brand heard through audio advertising. 

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Henry Clark