How often do you find an article without the ubiquitous sharing options embedded in it? It would be rather odd if I’m unable to share an article I like.
There’s a similar trend that’s been picking up recently – embedding an audio version of the article, in the article along with its written text. The benefit of doing so is quite obvious – you are providing another channel to consume the article which arguably is more convenient than reading.
But if providing an audio version is beneficial why are we seeing more and more publishers and bloggers embedding audio just recently? Two factors that are accelerating the trend of audio articles – drastically better artificial voices and the increasing shift of people’s behavior to listen to content online which is mostly being driven by podcasts and audiobooks.
You see, creating audio takes time. The process of narrating articles, editing, embedding them, etc. takes time, which compared to the value they would provide makes the process difficult and less worthwhile. After all, it’s not like people won’t get the content if there’s no audio.
So why are content creators nowadays going through the effort of adding audio narrations to their articles? It’s because the effort is not what it used to be. Today, creating an audio narration doesn’t take time. Today, we have synthetic voices, powered by Machine Learning that can narrate the articles with a voice that’s almost as clear and natural as a voice actor.
The reduction in time and effort in creating audio narrations suddenly makes creating audio narrations worthwhile because hey, why would you not want to provide convenience to your users while increasing the accessibility of your content?
Let’s look at some of the websites who are leading this trend, and their reasoning behind in doing so.
This is the audio narration from the article –
They are using Amazon Polly to create the audio versions of their articles but surprisingly they are still using the old voice, and not the Neural Newscaster voice which is specifically built for reading news and articles.
Here’s an excerpt of the same article narrated by the Newscaster voice created using Play.ht’s text to voice editor
Do you notice the difference in quality? The Newscaster voice is 4x times more expensive.
According to Digiday, Bloomberg started offering audio in May 2018 to cater commuters who would prefer to multitask while getting their news. Since then, their users are listening to an average of 6 stories per session making the audio narrations second-most popular media type on their app!
Financial Times offers a dedicated page for audio versions of its articles. Not sure if the narrations are human read or computerized because they offer the audio as a premium feature that is only accessible to their paid members.
Convince & Convert
Here are a couple of other websites offering audio articles
We believe with more and more websites offering audio articles, people would naturally expect any website they visit to find an audio version of the article. Just as it would be rather odd or inconvenient for me to share an article without sharing widgets on the page, forcing me to read an article without providing an option to listen would be equally inconvenient.