Smart Speakers Are Exploding

Smart speakers are exploding. And we’re not talking about exploding lithium-ion batteries. We’re talking about sales. When we fielded NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study Ten last summer, we saw 16% penetration for Amazon smart speakers in our sample. This past holiday season, however, smart speakers were a hot item. So, in our latest study of over 3,000 respondents, ages 14-54, across all PPM markets, fielded at the end of January, we saw sharply higher numbers for smart speakers.

These new speakers can connect people with all sorts of content, but it’s easiest when those publishing the content have an easy way to tell people exactly what to say to their smart speaker. If that sounds like an ideal situation for broadcast radio outlets, you’re right on the money. This is largely brand new TSL, brought about by a combination of the novelty of these new devices and being able to listen in rooms that may not have had a radio for a long time. The kitchen radios our parents and grandparents had have been replaced by TV’s. It’s a rare person who still has a clock radio – and even more rare when you find a person who wakes up to a station playing on a clock radio.

When we model through the research respondents most likely to say “yes” to a meter offer from Nielsen, we routinely see respondents who are more interested and more engaged with radio and other media. In this case, we see significantly higher smart speaker ownership among those likely to accept a meter or a diary – nearly half. As we see it, the numbers are too big to ignore. If you don’t have a strategy for smart speakers, you risk being left out as people become habituated to what they ask their smart speakers to do for them.

It’s also a good time to review what your stream sounds like. With these new devices, if you’re not making the listener happy, she can ask Alexa to switch to Spotify, Pandora or Amazon (which was giving away trials of its Unlimited music service to folks who got new a new Echo during the holidays). The fact that your commercial break will be longer than theirs isn’t good, but there’s no need to make it worse with commercial fill material ranging from useless PSA’s to announcements saying, “Your station is playing commercials.”

We’ll be doing a deeper dive on these numbers, especially as they apply to talk shows, on Thursday this week (March 8) at Talk Show Boot Camp in Dallas. There we’ll be sharing the stage with our friends Steve Goldstein and Fred Jacobs and talking about how new technology is impacting spoken word radio listening – and what radio should be doing about it.