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We analyzed over 5000 articles with Text to Speech audio versions and studied their impact on user engagement.

If you look at the user behavior for consuming content over the past few years, audio consumption has grown exponentially. And for good reasons. Audio is easy to consume, effortless to grasp and information consumed is retained for longer. Not to mention the convenience of listening over reading.

If audio is such a powerful medium, is there a way to apply some of it’s power to written content?

 

Enter audio articles — the gap between text and audio

Simply put, audio articles are audio versions of written articles. They’re a way to transform written content to audio and make it listenable!

Why do we need them, you ask!?

Well, if you look at the current content channels, there is written content like blog posts and articles, there is audio content like podcasts, radio, audiobooks and there is video content. But there’s a gap — between written content and audio lies a gap which audio articles perfectly fill, where written content is transformed to audio by narrating (reading out loud) and creating an audio version of the content that it can be consumed by listening.

Why audio matters

Your users are not always in a position to read, perhaps they are commuting, exercising or working and therefore reading becomes inconvenient. People spend tens and hundreds of hours every week during these activities and offering them a more convenient option to consume information can make all the difference.

Besides, given today’s proliferation of screens, asking users for screen time is quite a demand. Therefore content needs to be as accessible as possible so it can be consumed as per the user’s convenience.

It’s not just Play.ht who is advocating audio articles, rather some of the biggest publications are offering audio articles too!

 

Financial time have a dedicated section of audio articles that they offer as a premium feature to their paid users.

 

Medium has started offering audio versions of their popular articles for their paid members.

 

 

Bloomberg on the other hand are offering Text to Speech versions of every article! They introduced it as an in-app feature but now they’ve added it to their website as well.

According to Julia Beizer, global chief product officer, the adoption started off slow, particularly on mobile web, and shortly after launch, people were listening to two and a half stories on average per app session. Now, this has increased to six stories and has become the second-most popular media type on the app (behind live TV).

“Audio is particularly interesting for our audience because of that multitasking utility, that is a real news use case,” said Beizer. “The delivery of journalism is changing to meet this moment, audio for a multitasking audience a huge tool in our toolkit.”

We believe it’s not just news and journalism that can benefit from audio but other industries as well because out of the 5000 articles we analyzed, more than 90% were blogs and publications.

 

Creating Audio Articles with Text to Speech

We at Play.ht believe that audio articles are poised to become a big channel for content consumption. And among the various ways that can used to create audio articles, we believe that Text to Speech will be a predominant one because it’s the only viable solution that can be used to generate audio on demand and at scale.

But implementing Text to Speech on a blog or a website can be quite challenging as it requires technical knowledge to use the APIs, host, embed and add analytics to the audio.

That’s where Play.ht comes in. Our main goal is to remove any technical constraints that come with implementing Text to Speech and make creating audio articles a seamless process for any non-technical person. Our products make it super easy to convert articles to audio using multiple Text to Speech voices that we have aggregated from different providers and made them available with easy to use plugins for WordPress, Medium and other websites.

Just select a voice for your article and convert it to audio. As simple as that.

 

 

Along with converting to audio, Play.ht also provides the necessary tools and widgets for making the audio accessible to your users without you having to worry about hosting, distributing or tracking the listens of your audio articles. Play.ht takes care of all that so you can focus on creating great content.

 

Studying user engagement from 5000 audio articles that were created with Play.ht

We analyzed over 5000 articles that used Play.ht to create audio versions of to find out the impact audio had on different metrics related to user engagement.

Screenshot from Google Analytics comparing metrics from users who listen versus users who did not listen

 

Metric 1 — Visitor to listener conversion

The first thing we measured is user’s engagement with the audio player. From all the people who visited the audio articles, we measured the number of people who would click on the ‘Play’ button in the audio player. And this is what we found.

On average 5% of users visiting an article were interested in listening to it and clicked the ‘Play’ button but on some articles a whopping 30% of users clicked on the ‘Play’ button to listen to the article!

Metric 2 — Measuring the listening time

The next thing we wanted to know is — from the people who clicked on the ‘Play’ button, how many of them listened to the full article.

 

Almost 18% of the users who clicked on the Play button listened to the complete article!

Metric 3 — Average Session Duration

We then compared the average session duration of users who listened versus users who did not listen to an article.

Users who listened to articles increased the Average Session Duration time by 645% as compared to users who did not listen!

Metric 4 — Bounce Rates

Lastly, we compared the bounce rates of users who listened versus users who did not listen to articles and here’s what we found.

Users who listened to articles decreased the bounce rate by 280% compared to the users who did not listen!

 

These numbers clearly show that audio can have a positive impact on your website’s user engagement metrics. We will continue to study the application of audio to written content and share our learnings.

Conclusion

  • Audio articles complement and add value to written content, making it more accessible and consumable.
  • Audio articles are poised to be big consumption channels for your content.
  • Audio articles can be offered as an added value to your paid subscribers.
  • Some of the biggest websites have started offering audio articles including Medium, Financial Times and Bloomberg.
  • Recent technological breakthroughs make Text to Speech an ideal solution for creating audio articles.
  • Adding audio articles to your blog or website can increase user engagement between 5% — 30%.
  • Not all users will find audio articles useful but the ones who do, will increase the Average Session Duration by up to 645% and reduce Bounce Rates by -280%

 

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