Audio could improve Facebook’s eyes and ears
By Laura Forman
Facebook puts its money where your mouth is. The hope is that you will spend a large chunk of yours in return.
Social audio network Fringe Clubhouse has just 35 employees and, in less than three months this year, its valuation has jumped from $ 1 to $ 4 billion, according to PitchBook. So when it comes to audio, imagine what a company with over 58,000 employees and nearly half of the world’s population already using its existing platforms can do.
Facebook wants to know, of course. On Monday, the social media giant announced it will be launching a slew of new audio features, including a Clubhouse competitor in live audio rooms that should be available to everyone on the Facebook app by the time. summer.
Facebook says it will test its audio rooms in Groups, where the company hopes it can visually do what Groups has done for its platform: bring together a concentrated group of people with similar interests. Facebook says 1.8 billion people use Groups every month, or 64% of the total monthly users of its old Blue app.
In theory, audio networks could be even more popular. Years ago, texting became the new phone call, providing the ability to multitask. But we seem to come full circle with the proliferation of audio apps as the next potential frontier of social media that can be consumed anywhere, anytime, from the corner to your kitchen.
Given Clubhouse’s growth this year, the potential is promising. Launched last year, Clubhouse wasn’t even available in the iOS app store until September. But in February alone, it recorded 10.1 million downloads, according to Sensor Tower data. For some, the concept of social audio is an attractive antidote to Zoom fatigue and takes advantage of the extra time available due to more flexible work situations.
More recent data shows, however, that Clubhouse’s reach may have exceeded: March downloads totaled just 1.7 million. This could be because audio rooms have limited appeal or because vaccinated consumers are starting to shy away from social media. More likely, it has more to do with the fact that most people are still unfamiliar with the app. In March, 83% of American adults had heard nothing or little about Clubhouse, according to eMarketer, citing Axios and SurveyMonkey.
For Facebook, this represents an opportunity. Twitter has been testing its own audio chat rooms called Spaces for a few months. But with its apps being used by so many people, Facebook is in a unique position to bring media from Silicon Valley to the world’s main street. According to CivicScience, 41% of adults aged 35 to 54 already listen to live streaming audio content, illustrating the growing opportunity in the market for more audio content.
In terms of early monetization, Facebook says it will start by offering listeners the option of buying “stars” that they can distribute to their favorite creators. The company says it will pay its creators based on the stars they receive. Later, Facebook plans to offer users the option to pay for premium content through one-time purchases or subscriptions. These strategies are similar to what Twitter is reportedly following, like tip jars and paid super followings for some of its new products, some of which are audio-based.
Ultimately, however, it seems the best opportunity for Facebook to monetize audio rooms is through data, which neither Twitter nor Clubhouse can match. By operating audio rooms through its platforms, Facebook can in theory keep the experience cost-free and ad-free for many of its users, just like it has with groups. This will help them expand their customer base, generating as much user information as possible.
This point in particular could be particularly important, as Apple’s changes to iOS this year are likely to result in an overall reduction in data sharing. For most users, the audio social opportunity will present a fun new way to learn and engage with a like-minded community on their favorite topics. For Facebook, this will be yet another way to get users to identify more with themselves through focused interests.
That’s not to say the new opportunity will surely be a slam dunk. Consider Facebook’s forays into live video chats in groups and dating, which don’t seem to have slowed down incumbent leaders in these respective areas. The difference here could be that Zoom Video Communications and Match Group were established and widely used by the time Facebook entered the scene, while Clubhouse is still little known beyond the niche tech scene – a small group, though. influential.
If in several months you are drawn to an ad-free Facebook Live Audio room through Groups, don’t be too surprised to see your Facebook News feed filled with ads based on the topic that brought you there first. location.
Write to Laura Forman at [email protected]
(END) Dow Jones News Wire
April 22, 2021 07:14 ET (11:14 GMT)
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