As the world's largest marketplace for voice over, Voices.com is where professionals in advertising, marketing and media from across the globe come to find the perfect voice to complete their projects.
Each year, Voices.com's Trends Report, which leverages proprietary market data along with an annual survey of our client users, explores trends in media production, advertising, and of course, how voice is being leveraged to engage and delight audiences the world over. This year, our survey included the input of over 750 creative professionals from across North America and the world, including brand marketers, agency executives, producers, instructional designers, filmmakers, commercial directors, and more.
This report contains:
- The 5 most important media and advertising trends to impact brand marketers and creative agencies throughout 2019.
- Predictions on the trends to expect in creative industries throughout 2020.
- Insight into how the industry has pivoted in a changing media landscape to find success, including how voice over has been leveraged as a tool for creating connection and information retention.
The Top 5 Media Trends Impacting Brand Marketers and Ad Agencies
We asked survey respondents to identify which broad trends were impacting their work or their industry.
Here are the top five responses, ranked by popularity, along with quotes from survey respondents:
1 Increased demand for training content
"E-learning and podcasts have become extremely popular. Growth is good in this sector."
"In the past years, e-learning and online training courses constituted our major work."
"More small businesses are asking us to create training videos or product demo videos."
Learn about applications of voice over in elearning and corporate training content.
2 The growing digital audio advertising space
"Radio and TV projects have become rare, thanks to the emphasis on digital and social media."
"Companies are increasing their video content so it leads to us producing more content with voice over."
"We're doing a lot of digital advertising that is of a lower budget. That requires videos that are quickly done and require quick turnaround voice overs."
3 Podcasts rising in popularity
"[We're] shifting away from radio productions, and talking about starting podcasts instead."
"Podcasts are seen as a way to grow an audience that has targeted needs."
4 Voice powered applications and devices gaining adoption
"We are so dependent on technology, and the growing usage of voice-powered apps or devices has become increasingly popular. The ability to do things seamlessly and easily without even getting up and just by speaking to a technology device is amazing. We have to adapt to these new technology changes and thus use power of voice as it is becoming predominant in this world."
"Voice assistants and interactive voice capabilities has allowed us to break out of the linear :30 spot."
Learn about voice over for voice apps and devices.
5 The upsurge in brands creating or revising sonic branding
"[We're] revising TV theme songs to match sonic branding trends."
"Sonic branding has become pivotal in this age. A good VO can make or break a company in this regard now."
Learn more about how voice over is used in sonic branding.
How Brand Marketers and Advertisers Are Responding and Adapting to Media Trends
1 Podcasting, Digital Advertising and Internet Videos Surge in Production
We asked survey respondents to tell us what kinds of projects they were producing, and then whether their work on those projects had increased, stayed the same or decreased in 2019.
Top 3 Media Projects on the Rise
Digital and audio content proved to be the media darlings of this past year:
57% indicated making more podcast content
Digital (online) advertising
55% indicated making more ads
54% indicated making more internet videos
2 Traditional Media Continues Downward Slide
Top 3 Media Projects on the Rise
Traditional media and movie trailers continue their slide:
40% are making less
37% are making less
34% are making less
How Voice Over Has Played a Role
Clients who post jobs on Voices.com indicate the intended end-use of the voice over (e.g. movie trailer, television, etc). Voices.com's voice over job posting corroborates survey respondents insights in terms of projects on the decline.
Throughout 2019, there was a significant decrease in the number of posted jobs for:
- Movie Trailers (-34%)
- Documentaries (-44%)
- Television (-54%)
Interestingly, while movie trailers and documentaries have been declining for the last two years, this is the first year that there has been a decrease in television jobs.
Throughout 2020, podcasts, audio advertising and internet videos will continue their meteoric rise, but podcasts will be the real leaders in growth, as even more brands realize the benefits of producing a branded podcast.
And while it may look dire for traditional media, in truth, documentary, movie and television content isn't going anywhere, except onto streaming services. In 2018, AdAge reported that production of scripted shows for streaming services had surpassed that of traditional cable for the first time. So, the appetite for content is there. What may be shifting is who is producing it as more platforms take on creating ‘originals' and beefing up their own production studios. Take for example that Netflix spent $12 billion on content in 2018, while also purchasing a $30 million, 28-acre production center in New Mexico to scale up its output.
3 Gen X and Baby Boomers Grow as Important Target Demographic
2019 marked a significant shift in target demographics, with survey respondents indicating significantly more focus on Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Here's a deeper look as to what may be driving this change:
Baby Boomers Targeted 4x More in 2019
From 2017 to 2018, Baby Boomers were identified as a target audience for only 2% of respondents. However, by 2019, that number jumped to 8%. Could it be because of the growing influence and incredible spending power of the wealthiest generation in all of history? Baby Boomers currently control 70% of all disposable income in the U.S., they're brand loyal, and they're also very tech savvy. This is an audience that can be easily reached both by traditional and new media, including smart speakers. According to a voicebot.ai study, just over 20% of Americans over 60 own a smart speaker, and of those who do, over 58% also have smart home devices too.
The Focus on Gen X Triples
Throughout 2017 and 2018, only 11% of respondents were marketing to Gen X, but by 2019, 30% of respondents stated that they've recalibrated and set their sights on appealing to this generation. When you look at Gen X's media habits and earning potential, the reason for their appeal becomes obvious.
Gen X makes up approx 30% of the US population, and are at an age where they're in their best earning years, making them powerful consumers. Deloitte has reported that Gen X mobile video consumption has increased steadily over the past five years. They're also avid gamers (with over 50% playing a video game at least once a week), streaming service subscribers (77% had a streaming subscription in 2018), and podcast listeners (34% listen to podcasts). Plus, Gen X is set to experience the greatest increase in terms of their share in national wealth. By 2030, their net wealth in the United States is set to grow to $120 trillion.
But Millennials Are Still the Golden Child
Despite the lucrative opportunities represented by Baby Boomers and Gen X, millennials are still getting the most focus, with 50% of respondents targeting this demographic , however, this figure is less impressive than it was in 2017, when 75% of respondents were trying to win over their hearts and minds. Millennials are audiophiles, and still comprise the largest demographic consuming podcast content, 37% listen to podcasts, beating out Gen X by only 3%.
How Voice Has Played a Role
'Voice Age' Selected to Match Target Demographic
Previous Voices.com trends report research demonstrated that voice age typically is selected to match the target demographic of the content. For instance, if Gen X was the target of a particular ad campaign, then a middle-aged voice over would be selected.
Voices.com internal data, which tracks when a voice age is selected on a voice over job posting, indicates that in 2019, the following were the most requested:
These rankings support the survey findings, which show greater focus on Gen X and older millennials, followed by younger millennials, and then seniors.
Teen and Child Voices Rising in Popularity, Effectively Reach Digital Natives
In 2019, Voices.com data shows that younger voices saw an upsurge in demand, with teen voices (13-17) growing in demand by 20% year-over-year from 2018-2019, and child voices (5-12) increasing by 25% respectively.
So, if marketers and advertisers are honing in on Gen X and millennials, why would there be an increase in teen and child voices?
One reason may be simply the medium the audience engages in, and the overall effectiveness of voice. Younger generations are digital natives, growing up with video content, voice devices, and other media, always at hand.
Plus, children may also be more likely to respond to voice instead of text, as they may not yet be at an age where their reading level would allow them to receive messages quickly and efficiently via advertising copy.
As more and more Boomers enter retirement, this wealthy and strikingly healthy generation is going to continue to garner more and more focus from marketers and advertisers who realize the immense market potential they represent, especially in travel, experiences and luxury goods.
However, Gen X will experience the largest gain in terms of their status as a demographic of interest, not just for their earning power, but also because of their vast consumption of video and audio content.
By-and-large, the production of internet videos, digital ads, podcasts and entertainment content will attempt to capture Gen X hearts, minds and wallets, but the challenge for marketers and advertisers will be breaking through an increasingly noisy and fragmented market.
Millennials will continue to be important, while also continuing their year-over-year decline, falling out of favor, at least until the generational wealth transfer becomes more imminent.
The Voice Over Market Responds
Females Now Make More than Males
Year-over-year, Voices.com data has reported a steadily closing gender pay gap and opportunity gap in voice over work for males and females.
2019 marked another step forward for this trend, with some notable growth. Specifically:
Here's where male and females differ in the world of voice over:
- Females are more likely to win telephone and voice assistant jobs.
- The largest pay discrepancies where females made more than males were for voice assistant (females paid 33% more than males) and television voice over jobs (females paid 31% more than males).
- The voice over jobs most likely to go to males are movie trailers, documentaries and video games.
- Male voices are still hired for more jobs overall (54% of jobs), though this gap is set to close within 2020.
The media production landscape will continue to shift throughout 2020 in response not only to the increasing importance of Gen X and Baby Boomer consumers, but also to the changing preferences of audiences in general, who are increasingly gravitating towards more audio and video content.
For companies to survive and thrive, they'll have to remain nimble, keeping a close eye on how the tactics they employ are contributing to their overall marketing and advertising campaigns - and adjusting, sometimes drastically, on the fly. Ensuring that there are top-notch freelancers and production tools (such as fast and easy ways to source voice over) available, will be key to a company's ability to pivot.
All-in-all, 2020 will be an exciting time where audio-driven content and video will continue to proliferate at a blinding pace, enabling audiences across North America and beyond to satiate their desire to learn and be entertained on-the-go. This will be a year when brands deepen their usage of technology, hone their sonic and overall branding, and explore new advertising avenues to engage target customers like never before.