There’s a strong reason for Facebook to get into the audio game. They’re one of the biggest entities in the world, music is something we all love, and other forms of audio content are on the rise. It’s a logical thing. As audio quickly becomes the next operating system, Facebook has the potential to free our eyeballs, add a new revenue channel, and become the market leader in digital audio content.
We get it Facebook, you want our attention and you want it all the time, but you’re losing people’s attention on mobile by only focusing on video.
The biggest problem is almost comical, individuals are still unable to seamlessly transition from watching video content to listening to video content on mobile. Ever get supremely annoyed when your phone goes into screen saving mode and the audio from the video you were playing stops working?! This problem occurs not only with Facebook video, but also on YouTube (at least for YouTube there’s a workaround). According to Apple customer support, this is an issue with “the apps themselves”, not the iOS platform.
Mobile video should be as seamless as TV where you can do anything productive in your home hands free while “watching TV”. Really you’re just listening, and that’s the beauty of TV. Some videos online were not built for watching, but instead simply for listening. How many times have you started watching a video only to realize you’re more concerned with what’s being said rather than what’s on the screen? If you close the app to continue listening, the video should play on. This way, you can free up your hands and eyes for other activities (even if humans aren’t the best at multi-tasking, we still love doing it!
In December 2016 Facebook Launched a beta version of Facebook Live Audio.
The program was launched with a select group of publishers and authors (including BBC, Harper Collins, and Adam Grant) who intend to create audio content specifically for this platform. This is a step in the right direction. Audio content and with it audio-based advertising has experienced double digit growth over the last five years. According to a recent report by Bridge Ratings, ad spend for the 330,000 podcasts in the iTunes directory is expected to increase 27% in 2017 and an additional 30% in 2018 to $250 million. Some rumor Mark Zuckerg’s AI assistant Jarvis as a major audio play as well.
It makes perfect sense for Facebook to try to capture a larger piece of the pie. In addition, Facebook’s entry into the audio market will no doubt accelerate this growth by solving one of the major challenges facing the podcast industry: the difficulty most users face in discovering relevant new podcasts. Another plus, Facebook can get in the game before Snapchat does.
In spite of its recent announcement to enter the digital audio market, Facebook continues to focus most of its attention on video. The company is rumored to be soliciting producers to create original content for the platform in order to compete with Verizon’s Go90 and YouTube Red.
As such, if Facebook really wants to connect the world, make it a better place and make more money in the process, it would be wise of Facebook to allow users to seamlessly transition from watching video to listening to audio in order to keep us engaged on its platform.