How Voice Will Impact Publishing News
Updated: Mar 3
The first radio signal was successfully sent out in 1895 by inventor Guglielmo Marconi. As we all know, the radio evolved to become one of the most important tools for news distribution, reaching every corner of the world at a pace that far exceeded newspapers.
Today, 124 years later, voice assisted devices are the newest evolutionary step for news. As voice devices continue to skyrocket in popularity, news has been one of the top features used by device owners. According to a study done by Adobe Analytics, at least 47 percent of consumers use voice services to check the news and 64 percent ask for weather updates. Flash Briefings and Skills are two main ways publishers can take advantage of Voice, and each offers its own useful opportunities to meet the growing demand for news.
Flash Briefings are pre-recorded news updates Alexa delivers. Broadcasters like BBC News and AccuWeather use this medium to share the latest news headlines or weather information. There are various reasons for this popularity. First, it removes the friction of having to find your phone, open an app and sit down to read. Instead, users simply wake up and say, “Alexa, open Flash Briefings” and the daily news streams as the user goes about their business.
Secondly, unlike TVs, newspapers, or podcasts, voice devices are a conversational way of interacting with news and users can interrupt the briefings and ask questions for clarification. For example, if a voice experience is covering news about Sierra Leone, the user can pause the update to ask where Sierra Leone is located, what its current population is and so on. This seamless connectivity to information allows people to get a clearer picture of what is going on.
Branded Skills are an additional opportunity for news publishers users because they have more interactive features. For example, the Washington Post previously created its own skill for the Summer Olympics, covering various topics to capitalize on the global event’s attention. As voice devices continue to develop and add touch screens, publishers can enrich news experiences even more with videos and images.
Many news publishers have already starting capitalizing on the many benefits of this medium. The Guardian was one of the early adopters back in 2016 when it made its news, reviews and podcasts available on Amazon’s Echo. The Daily Mail also jumped on board and had its news made available to Echo users as part of its paid form digital edition, Mail Plus. As publishers look to grow, ad opportunities are another way to capitalize on voice devices. Back in 2016, the Post was the first to sell ads via its Flash Briefing.
Publishers also have the benefit of knowing when and how users prefer to listen to news on voice devices. According to a Digital News Report, users tend to use news features in the morning and in the evenings before going to sleep. Users also prefer the succinct delivery of news in this format and 56 percent of U.S. users say they feel better informed when using these Voice features.
Publishers should continue to think about how news consumption will change as Voice devices scale. Voice is quickly spreading into other areas outside the home such as cars where commuting is a prime time for news delivery. As the appeal of voice-controlled news grows, thinking about how people will engage through news via Voice is the key to success in this area. With only about 1,000 flash briefings currently available on Alexa, the platform is hungry for content and ripe with opportunity for publishers who need only shift their content to reap the benefits of Voice.
Below we quickly lay out a few Voice features and concepts that could be applied to the continued development of news.
DELIVERING PERSONALIZED NEWS: News delivery to this point has been mostly a linear push of text to Voice or recorded news audio files. The beauty of Voice is that you can deeply personalize news delivery based on a users interests, previous behaviors, or what device they are accessing your brand on (no screen, screen, auto). News organizations will drive more loyalty if they are able to personalize content delivery, learn more about their members over time, and deliver increasing value.
DRIVING SUBSCRIPTIONS: Ultimately a news organization needs to drive revenue to continue to exist. Many of the top news organizations are thriving with pay-wall subscription models. Voice can function as a valuable touch point in the sales funnel, offering paywalled content to users, generating unique data sets for propensity models, or offering access to extended content to subscribers. There are several ways news organizations can use Voice to drive a news subscription.
GENERATING AD REVENUE: News organizations have the benefit of being one of the few Flash Briefing use cases that allow Ads. As news organizations work with advertising partners to design how they can represent the brand, Voice is a phenomenal opportunity. Voice will be the next iteration of content marketing, and news organizations can go far beyond a pre or post roll ad sponsor mention. Explore how you can creatively weave ads into your news delivery, but careful about impacting the value of your experience. Voice users are well known for bad reviews against an overaggressive ad placement.