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What Smart Speakers Mean for Local Radio

Smart Speakers Are Good for Local Radio

One in four Americans now owns a voice-activated smart speaker, allowing them to easily access audio, including AM/FM radio stations. That equals 60 million potential listeners for radio content and advertising. 

Led by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Home devices, smart speakers are becoming a common household gadget -- and one owners turn to regularly. According to new data from Edison Research and NPR,  one-third of owners use their devices daily, while 27% use them nearly every day.

In the last two years, speaker ownership has grown a stunning 135%, sprouting from 67 million units in December 2017 to 177 million units in December 2019. Alexas and Google Homes have been top holiday gifts for the last two years, which has boosted sales, but, in a sign of their popularity, many Americans are finding that one speaker just isn’t enough. Smart speaker homes now boast an average of 2.6 devices per household, compared to 1.7 units two years ago.

These consumers are using their speakers to listen to more audio, including more local radio.   One-quarter of smart speaker owners report listening to AM/FM radio on their devices, up from 18% a year ago. Nearly half of users stream digital audio on their devices as well and 5% listen to podcasts, creating additional listening opportunities for radio station’s on-demand and podcast content. 

For radio stations and their ad partners, it is still early innings to work with smart speakers. However, voice technology is making it easier and more convenient for listeners to access audio, and, with less friction, consumers are more likely to sample audio, tune in for longer periods and listen more frequently. That’s good news for radio stations and advertisers. 

To encourage smart speaker usage, radio stations should promote their voice integrations on-air, online and on social. Remind listeners they can stream their stations live on their speakers and also interact with radio station skills. Federated Media stations have been at the forefront of voice integrations and we were among the first radio stations to launch Alexa skills. At Federated Media,  we can brands navigate this fast-moving space. Voice is the next frontier of audio and smart speakers are here to stay, and that’s good for the radio industry.

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Written by Paul Altman