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Want to win the content game in 2019? I hope you're focusing on these 3 things

Bye, 2018.

Are you looking to build a 2019 content strategy, or evolve your content game?

Here’s what I think is in store for the mediums that had a growth spurt in 2018 - and how they will catch on fire before the ball drops on 2020:

The podcast revolution

By now, it should be no surprise that podcasts are here to stay. The question is now will they become a mainstream media platform staple. According to Apple, there are over 525,000 active shows and over 18.5 million individual episodes. 48 million people are now listening to podcasts weekly, compared to 42 million in 2017.

While digital video is king, all publishers should be worried about completion rates. Once you dig beyond standard reach and view numbers, you generally find average view times ranging from 3 - 10 seconds and completion rates under 30%. With podcasting, 80% of the audience is listening to either the majority or all of an episode. There is commitment and loyalty.

What does the industry need to continue to succeed? In my opinion, a better search and recommendation engine. The major players (Apple, Sticher, Spotify) do a sufficient job of indexing pods by category but it doesn’t go deep enough and struggles to sort on an episodic level. Reviews and word of mouth are the key recommendation drivers but this medium needs a credible Yelp-like service to bring some organization and authority to this world.

Audio search is here and there's no turning back

The most valuable asset for consumers is our time. Sadly, we’re spending an average of 5.9 hours per day consuming media through our phones, TVs and computers. As I previously wrote about, this is bad news for publishers and brands because consumer consumption time is approaching the apex and the one thing they can’t do is add more hours to the day.

In comes voice technology. You’ve caught a glimpse through using Alexa or Siri but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s to come. Less friction, more multitasking and allowing you to be more efficient is the name of the game.

Out of the 252 million adults in the US, 47.3 million own a smart speaker. We’re not talking about VR Googles here, this is some serious adoption in a short period of time. Now you might be saying, yes, I have a smart speaker, but I only use it to check the weather and listen to podcasts. I don’t see myself using it for anything else. Think about the early usage of the mobile web, large adaption but minimal functions. Now, look at how far we’ve come. Give it time. To date, 26% of smart speaker owners have made a voice purchase and 11.5% do so monthly. Furthermore, 16.7% of the general population (not just speaker owners) say they are likely or very likely to order products by voice. For mainstream voice adoption, it’s when not if.

Stories are becoming the preferred method of social sharing

We don’t often thank Snapchat but they deserve some major props for the creation and adoption of the story content format. The feature has changed the way we create and share with one another and has been adopted by Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. By the end of 2018, Facebook-owned properties had over 1 billion daily story users. Not bad for a feature that didn’t exist three years ago.

The news feed was one of the single most important social media inventions but it’s going to soon take a back seat to stories. Scrolling the feed is tiring and lacks an opportunity for interactive storytelling. Furthermore, the feed has also created a psychological fear that limits or prevents us from posting. The Instagram feed in particular has become a place for the greatest hits. Most of us choose not to post unless we have that killer image with the fire copy that’s going to rack up solid likes in the 20 minutes.

Stories have limited the fear and allow people to post more freely. They also have a suite of easy to use tools and features that allow users to jazz up and personalize their content.

Are we going to wake up one day and have the feed disappear? No. But, there will likely be a gradual shift that provides increased story real estate and the creation of new features that allow for more engagement with content.

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