Podcasters Take Note: Amazon Alexa is an Audio-Driven platform with Millions of Users, Time to Get Moving

Podcasting is an audio media. Amazon Alexa and its Echo devices use voice for interaction, but are designed to consume audio media. Amazon has sold four million Echo units and because these devices are used by multiple people in the home, we estimate Alexa provides an audience reach of 10 million in the U.S. today. The Echo became available in the UK and Germany earlier this month and the pricing of the entry-level device is now under $50 which is sure to expand the audience even further.

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By our count, there are fewer than 10 podcasters on Alexa as of September 2016 and half of those are either AOL or NPR affiliated properties. Podcasters generally follow a strategy of maximizing convenience for users. I’m sure a lot of users would enjoy listening to their favorite podcast through Alexa while cooking dinner or relaxing in their living room. Alexa also represents an opportunity to expand audience. So why are so few podcasters on Alexa?

The Key Technical Constraint Was Removed

Up until the end of August, Alexa really wasn’t open to podcasting. Unless you had a special relationship with Amazon, your audio streams could not exceed 90 seconds. That constraint wasn’t very podcast friendly. However, that changed with the release of the new Audio Streaming feature in late August. Not only can you now have your full length podcast played on Alexa, but users can pause, stop, play and skip content. This makes Alexa much more suitable for the consumer podcast experience.

There are Still Some Challenges, But They Are Reasonable

Despite the new podcast-friendly Alexa features, we recognize that designing and building an Alexa skill requires technical knowledge. XAPP CTO John Kelvie pointed out some of the new development challenges introduced by the Audio Streaming feature in a recent blog post. You also need to know how to design the Alexa skill for both technical performance and usability. It simply requires knowledge from people who understand both audio and software development. However, this isn’t as complicated as launching a new mobile app. Podcasters can develop a skill and become available on Alexa in just a few weeks.

Connecting with Fans on the Voice Web

Next week, Google is expected to announce its Amazon Echo competitor, Google Home. A Bloomberg report suggest that Apple is expected to launch a similar device soon and is already in prototype testing. These activities are certain to drive more interest in home-based voice assistants. And, we are seeing that the consumer engagement won’t be limited to these devices. The same system that will provide voice and audio engagement on Google Home is available today in Google’s Allo mobile app. We are also seeing Alexa built into cars and other devices where people listen to content. As a result, building a podcast experience for many of these new platforms will mean providing user access to your content across a range of devices.

alexa-home-useThe fact is that consumers are increasingly consuming digital audio content away from their desktop and mobile devices. We thought the radio was being replaced by the smartphone, but it appears that was only part of the story. Because Alexa and other home-based voice assistants have proven so useful for home automation and other features, consumers are now simply looking to leverage the devices for audio content consumption as well. It’s a logical progression and provides a big convenience. Amazon’s Alexa has proven that consumers like the experience and the other technology providers are rushing in to meet demand. The question for podcasters is whether your content will be available to these consumers.

XAPP has unique capabilities that tie together Alexa skill development expertise with deep experience in online audio and interactive voice experiences. If you would like to learn more about making your podcast or audio content available to consumers through Amazon Alexa, click the button below.

 

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