Triton’s John Rosso Sees Blurring Lines Between Audio Technology And Devices.

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Thursday, May 05, 2022 6:00 AM EST | Inside Radio

Triton’s John Rosso Sees Blurring Lines Between Audio Technology And Devices.

Blurring lines may be behind some of the drop in monthly podcast listening numbers reported by Edison Research in its annual Infinite Dial report. Rather than less podcast listening, Triton Digital President John Rosso says the numbers -- which showed 38% of Americans aged 12 and older listened to a podcast in the past month versus 41% a year ago -- may be tied to how people are defining what they are consuming.

“There may be some confusion on the part of the listener,” Rosso said. “As more people begin to use those dedicated hardware devices like smart TVs to listen to podcasts, they may be thinking more along the lines of streaming than the download-and-listen model that they’re more used to on their mobile device.”

Lending credence to that theory is the Edison data that pointed to growing streamed audio consumption. It says 73% of Americans aged 12 and older now listen to streamed audio, a seven-point increase from one year ago. The gains came among those 35 and older.

“Why that big jump up? There’s been a lot of disruption in media consumption due to the pandemic,” said Rosso. “It will be interesting to see if that increase holds or if it normalizes.”

And as for the difference among age groups, Rosso said during a webinar Wednesday that the 87% listen rate for 12–34-year-olds reported by Edison is a “theoretical maximum reach” for online audio given the connectivity needs, especially among the younger end of the age group.

Similar confusion and a smart home evolution may also color the ownership numbers for smart speakers. Edison says 35% of the U.S. population aged 12+ owns a smart speaker, and although those who have embraced the technology tend to having more units in their home, the growth in the overall number of Americans using them has slowed in recent years. Rosso thinks such a count may undercut its reach.

“The slowing growth of hardware adoption may be because these assistants are getting built into all sorts of other devices beyond the smart speaker. You can buy smart TVs that now have embedded voice assistants, soundbars, and even refrigerators with interactive voice assistants embedded,” said Rosso. “So we may see that the actual ownership growth of the discrete devices is starting to slow down because the actual services behind those devices [are] becoming more pervasive and becoming integrated in all sorts of things.”

The new integrations may not mean less listening, but different listening locations. Rosso pointed out the latest Edison Podcast Consumer Tracker data shows the number of weekly podcast listeners who say they listen to podcasts most often in the car hit a new high during fourth quarter. One in five said they listen most often in the car, a 43% jump from the start of 2021. “That’s a rapid transition,” he said.

For streaming audio, Rosso said there has also been a quick move from desktops and laptops over to smart speakers. Triton says more than 20% of online streaming of AM/FM radio now comes on smart speakers -- even higher for some radio formats.

Rosso’s comments came during a webinar Wednesday during which TransUnion showed off how it is using data to help ad buyers connect with audiences across various devices -- a portfolio that integrates streaming audio data from Triton.

TransUnion VP of Sales Dave Oliveira said as all of the new technologies attract listeners, the ad buying world has adapted too. “Quickly, the dollars and the audience targeting capabilities have followed in a much faster way,” he said.

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