Learning About Current Trends

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    The Voices Experience with Founder & CEO David Ciccarelli

    Do you want to know more about trends in the voice over industry? David walks you through the Voices.com 2020 Trends Report that outlines the five most important media and advertising trends to impact brand marketers and creative agencies and offers predictions on the trends to expect in creative industries. 

    About The Voices Experience: The Voices Experience is presented by Voices.com. Produced and engineered by Randy Rektor.

    Hi again, David here, and thanks for joining me on The Voices Experience. My role as always is to be your guide, giving you the behind the scenes, look at how things happen at Voices.com as well as provide insights on the industry and current trends. And that is what today’s show is going to be all about, the current trends in the industry. Each year, the team at Voices.com does an annual trends report. And we leverage proprietary data along with an annual survey sent out to our clients and we explore trends in media production, advertising, and of course, how voice is being leveraged to engage and delight audiences around the world.

    This year, our survey included the input of over 750 creative professionals across North America and the globe, including brand marketers, ad agency executives, producers, instructional designers, those are the people who produced that e-learning content, filmmakers, commercial directors, and many, many more. The report is actually available on our website, but for those listeners out there, I’m going to run through it pretty quickly, and then you can download it afterwards, completely for free.

    This report contains the five most important media and advertising trends that impact brand marketers and creative agencies throughout the last year. Then we’ll provide predictions on these trends and how they’re going to play out over the next year. I’m going to provide you with some insight on how the industry has pivoted and changed in different media and the overall landscape to ultimately find success. And then how they’re using voiceover, and it’s being leveraged for a tool for creating connection as well as information retention.

    Okay, I’m going to go over the top five trends impacting brand marketers in ad agencies. You see, we asked survey respondents to identify which broad trends were impacting their work and their industry. And so here are the top five responses ranked by popularity, along with some quotes from survey respondents. Number one, increased demand for training content. Here’s what clients said, “E-learning and podcasts have become extremely popular. Growth is good in this sector.” In the past couple of years e-learning and online training courses constituted the majority of our work and more small businesses are asking us to create training videos and product demonstration videos. Number one, increased demand for training content.

    Number two, the growing digital audio advertising space. Clients said, “Radio and TV projects are becoming more rare thanks to the emphasis on digital and social media.” Clients are increasing their video content so it leads us to producing more content with voiceover. And we’re doing a lot of digital advertising now that we never did before. That requires videos that are done quickly and require quick turnaround on the voiceover.

    Number three, podcasts are rising in popularity. The client said, “We’re shifting away from doing radio productions and talking about starting podcasts instead.” Podcasts are seen as a way to grow an audience that has targeted needs.

    Number four, voice powered applications and devices are gaining adoption. It was a few years ago that Amazon made a big push into the smart speaker space by deeply discounting the Amazon Echo Smart speaker around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At the time there are hundreds of millions of people who now have these smart speaker devices in their homes. Google home is another one as well with the Google Assistant as the digital assistant there, but they’re absolutely out there.

    So this trend that voice powered applications are definitely gaining adoption, certainly is true. Some of the clients said that we’re so dependent on technology and the growing usage of voice powered applications and devices has seen an increase in its popularity. The ability to do things seamlessly and easily without even getting up. And just by speaking to a technology device is pretty amazing. We have to adapt to these new technologies and the changes that they introduce. And so the power of voice is becoming predominant in this world. And this comment from a brand advertiser, “Voice assistance and interactive voice capabilities has allowed us to break out, out of the linear 32nd spot”.

    And number five, the upsurge in brands are creating or revising their Sonic branding. Now it’s the time for every brand big and small to take their knowledge of Sonic branding to the next level and hone their unique sound. With the emergence of countless new Sonic channels, from smart speakers that we were just talking about to podcasts, the era of voice is firmly upon us and audiences are listening. Smart speakers can be found in nearly half of all American homes.

    Audio books are the fastest growing sector of the publishing industry. And over one third of Americans aged 25 to 54 listen to podcasts monthly. Voice based platforms and messages communicated through audio are predicted to become more and more desirable for audiences, especially those looking to reduce visual stimulation throughout their day. For brands, this means that crafting a distinct and identifiable Sonic identity is as essential as harboring a unique visual identity. This upsurge in brands creating or revising Sonic branding, that’s the big trend that we’re seeing here. An audio producer said that they’re revising TV theme songs to match Sonic branding trends. And someone else said Sonic branding has become pivotal in this age. A good VO, voiceover, can make or break a company in this regard now.

    Those are the top five media trends impacting brand marketers and ad agencies. But now we wanted to understand how brand marketers and advertisers are responding to those trends. What are they doing differently? Are the allocating their resources, time, energy, and money differently to different media types because of that? Well, we asked our survey respondents to tell us what kinds of projects they’re producing now and whether their work on those projects has increased, stayed the same or decreased over the last year.

    The top three media projects on the rise are digital audio content proved to be the media darling of the last year, podcasts are 57% up year over year, digital audio ads is up 55% and internet videos are up 54%, really indicating that more people are creating content that can be shared and consumed easily and distributed through social networks. If that’s what’s increasing, then what’s decreasing? Well, traditional media continues the downward slide.

    The top three media projects on the decline are actually movie trailers, radio and television. 40% of respondents reported making fewer movie trailers, 37% less radio commercials and 34% less TV commercials. Now, clients who post jobs on Voices.com indicate the intended and use of the voiceover, example, whether it’s a radio commercial, movie trailer or TV spot. The data that we see from our job postings corroborates with the survey respondent’s insight in terms of which projects are increasing and which projects are declining.

    And at Voices we’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of jobs posted on movie trailers, documentaries and television. Now, interestingly, while movie trailers and documentaries have been declining over the last two years, this is the first year that we’ve seen a decrease in television jobs. Our prediction throughout the next year is that podcasts and audio advertising and internet videos will continue their meteoric rise, but podcasts will be the real leaders in growth, especially as more brands realize the benefits of producing a branded podcast. And well it might look dire for traditional media, in truth documentary and movie television content, it’s not going to go anywhere, except maybe onto online streaming services.

    A few years ago, Ad Age reported that the production of scripted shows for streaming services had surpassed that of the traditional cable for the first time. The appetite for content is there. What may be shifting though is who’s producing the content and what platforms does it ultimately end up on. Take, for example, that Netflix spent $12 billion on content in 2018 while also purchasing a $30 million, 28 acre production center and New Mexico to scale up its output.

    Another way that brand marketers and advertisers are responding to the trends that they’re seeing is that Gen X and Baby Boomers grow as an important demographic. Last year 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 at Wood’s driving the change. Content is being created for Baby Boomers four times more than the previous year. Could it be because of the growing influence and incredible spending power of the wealthiest generation in all of history?

    Well, Baby Boomers currently control over 70% of all disposable income in the US, and 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 those smart speakers. According to VoiceBot.ai study, just over 20% of Americans over 60 own a smart speaker. And of those that do, over 50% also have other smart home devices too. They’re definitely tech savvy.

    While brand advertisers are reaching Baby Boomers, they’re also trying to reach Gen X, the middle aged demographic. Now Gen X makes up approximately 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 last five years. They’re also avid gamers with over 50% playing a video game at least once a week. 77% of this demographic has a streaming subscription and they’re big podcast listeners too. Plus, Gen X is set to experience the greatest increase in terms of their share of national wealth. By 2030, their net worth in the United States is set to grow to $120 trillion.

    But what about the Millennials you might be asking? Well, the 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 with their content and ads. And Millennials are the biggest audiophiles. They still comprise the largest demographic consuming podcast content beating out even Gen X.

    If we understand the mediums that are being used by brand advertisers and marketers, and the age demographic that they’re targeting, well then how has voice played a role? Well, previous Voices.com trends report research demonstrated that voice age typically selected to match the target demographic of the content. For instance, if Gen X was the target of a particular ad campaign, then middle-aged voiceover would be selected, makes sense.

    Our internal data, which tracks voice age is selected on every job posting and it indicates that in the last year, the following where the most requested: middle-age, 35 to 54, was requested in over 50% of the job postings. Next up young adult, 18 to 35, that was 30% of the job postings. And then senior voices, 55 plus, it was requested in 4% of the job postings. Then all the other categories combined requested the final 16% of the job postings. These ranking support the survey findings that show the greater focus on Gen X and older Millennials followed by the younger Millennials and then the seniors.

    Our own data shows that younger voices saw an upsurge in demand too, with teen voices, 13 to 17, growing demand by 20% year over year. And child voices are going up too, 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, the overall effectiveness of your voice. Younger generations are digital natives growing up with video content, voice devices and other media always in their hands.

    Plus children may 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 effectively, or perhaps at some other reason. By and large, though, the production of internet videos, digital ads and podcasts and other 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.

    And now that we understand that a brand marketer or an advertiser is trying to match the age of their audience with the age of the voice talent, likewise goes for gender. And what we fin at Voices.com and through our data is that females are now making more than males. Overall, women are paid 4% more than their male counterparts on a job by job basis. And female voice actors moved up from winning 44% of the jobs to 46% of the overall jobs.

    Here’s where men and women differ in the world of voiceover. Women are more likely to win telephone and voice assistant jobs. And the largest pay discrepancies where women made more than their male counterparts were in voice assistance, with female voice talent earning 33% more than the male. The voiceover jobs most likely to go to the men though are still movie trailers, documentaries and video games. Male voice talent are hired for more jobs overall, 54% of the jobs, though I expect that this gap is set to close within the next year.

    Pulling this all together then. The media production landscape will continue to shift throughout the next year, 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 gravitated 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 the overall marketing and campaigns that they’re running, ensuring that they’re working with top-notch production tools and professional voice talent. That’s going to be key for a company’s ability to pivot quickly.

    All in all this year 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 audiences like never before.

    That’s the trends report. It’s available on Voices.com. If you scroll to the very bottom of every page of our website, you’ll see a link there in the company section called reports, and you can click on that and you’ll find, not only this year’s report, but a number of them from the previous years. There’s some really great stuff in there. As always, you can send me a question or comment about today’s episode, just simply send it to David@Voices.com, and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play to catch the very next episode. Until then, use your voice to inform, entertain and inspire the world.

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    David graduated with honours from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology. David’s background in audio production continues to inform Voices.com’s innovation in the areas of mobile recording and digital media products that contribute to Canada’s economic and cultural future. As Chief Executive Officer, David is responsible for setting the vision, executing the growth strategy and managing the company on a day-to-day basis. He often writes about these experiences in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes.

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