Recently, Facebook announced its intention to launch several new streaming audio products. Following the success of other tech giants in the space, Facebook will be rolling out Live Audio Rooms, Soundbites, and Podcasts over the course of 2021. According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook wants to “treat audio as a first-class medium in the way that we treat photos and videos.” The first experiences will roll out on the Facebook App, with new products coming to Instagram and Messenger in the near future.
What streaming audio products are being developed?
First among the developing products is Live Audio Rooms for Facebook Groups. Product testing is currently underway and is expected to roll out to all users this summer. Live Audio Rooms will be available to select users so they can host conversations with other public figures, fans, and experts. Users can also leverage the feature to create a forum for discussion, without the added pressure of being on camera.
Soundbites will also roll out to a small group of users for testing over the next few months. Soundbites will allow users to create short-form audio clips capturing anecdotes, jokes, moments of inspiration, poems, and other forms of entertainment-based audio. Facebook is partnering with a number of creators, including comedians and motivational speakers, to showcase this new feature. An Audio Creator Fund will support emerging audio creators and help Facebook identify early feedback on the new product experience.
Podcasts are also coming to Facebook. More than 170 million users are already connected to podcast pages, and 35 million users are members of fan groups around podcasts. Over the next few months, Facebook will make podcasts available directly through the Facebook app. This will allow users to easily find new podcasts and make recommendations to friends.
How will the Streaming Audio features affect the social landscape?
Each of these audio products is designed to strategically keep users on the Facebook platform for longer periods of time. Facebook’s attempt to expand their audio offering coincides with the rise in audio calls and audio messages on platforms such as WhatsApp and Messenger over the course of the pandemic. It will also allow Facebook to compete with companies that have similar offerings, including TikTok, Spotify, and Amazon/Audible.
What does this mean for advertisers?
While ads and sponsorships are not yet available across streaming audio, Facebook is exploring the possibility of monetizing these products in the near future. Facebook maintains they “have something unique to contribute to this space with our suite of existing monetization products, and will have more details to share as we get closer to bringing this product to market.”