Emerging Market Media (EMM), publisher of flagship editorial product Emerging Market Views, has introduced an audio feature into its on-site articles. Audiences will now be given the option of listening to a specific article rather than reading it, thanks to a new partnership with London-based media-tech partner SpeechKit.
The audio option is offered directly beneath the main title of each article, by way of a play button and timeline bar that displays in minutes and seconds how long it takes to listen. When a user chooses to hit the play button, a unique neural voice begins to ‘read’ the text of the article.
Dawn Kissi is Co-founder of Emerging Market Media. This year at FIPP Congress, she’ll be joining a panel discussion on ‘Trustworthy journalism in a disorderly world’. Here, she explains how EMM’s introduction of audio articles first came about:
“The choice to implement audio articles came as a sort of next natural step for my team and I, as we continue to build out both our brand and offerings. The platform is home to analysis, long-form interviews, quick news on the developing economies, and opinion pieces. We know we have a fair number of repeat visitors, and these visitors tend to return to items they have either opened or read on another occasion. So we felt adding audio would be a nice and even novel touch to the platform.”
“The option is there if they want it, and it is very easy to engage with. Initial feedback has been positive—many appreciate how crisp and audible it sounds, and some have even commented how clean the audio button looks, as well as how simple it is to start and stop with no scrolling ads or other interference in their way.”
Of course, when introducing new ways to consume content, one key consideration is how these platforms are going to be paid for and therefore monetised. However as Kissi explains, for a site like Emerging Market Views that prides itself on offering a clutter-free experience, the strength of its editorial product remains key.
“As of today, we have had premier sponsorships in our newsletters,” says Kissi. “My co-founder and I have set out with the goal of offering a clean, fuss-free product. And we are sticking to this. It is a given that a strong majority of visitors are most annoyed and distracted by too much advertising – pop-ups, banners, and others – just impeding their experience. So on Emerging Market Views, we keep striving to just lay the work bare: a deeply-reported item, analysis piece, or interview, with no frills. We feel this has earned both the brand and product respect among our audience, too.”
“There are of course opportunities for very specific brands that align with us, but we have been careful and will remain very selective as to who we offer real estate to on the site. Newsletters, events, and our soon-to-launch podcast will offer unique revenue streams for us on a few fronts. The current global pandemic has made us rethink some plans and as a result, our paywall launch has been delayed, but it is certainly coming. So as of now, subscriptions remain free while we continue to build and fine-tune it all.”
As of today, EMM’s audio articles are presented by way of a single voice, with plans to alternate between 2-3 unique voices by the end of the year. During this time, the company will collect user feedback on everything from style of voice to length of audio articles, and enhance the offering over time accordingly.
James MacLeod, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for SpeechKit added: “Publishers such as Emerging Market Media are innovating to meet a generation of news consumers on-the-move, and in doing so are better securing their future. Today, audio articles are proving to be an effective and profitable addition to newsroom tools.”