Audible's brand plan to build the value of audiobooks

A/NZ chief talks through the latest brand marketing campaign as well as wider efforts to inject more value in the audiobook subscription offering for Australian customers

Celeste Barber in the latest marketing campaign for Audible
Celeste Barber in the latest marketing campaign for Audible

Audible’s latest campaign highlighting how busy Aussies can fit audiobooks into their lives ties into wider efforts by the brand to position the value-add credentials of its subscription offering, its chief says.

Last week, Audible debuted a new campaign centred around Australian comedy and Instagram queen, Celeste Barber, and showing how to fit audiobooks into busy lives. The creative covers key use cases for audiobooks, such as family car trips, gym sessions, while cleaning or on a commute.

Audible Australia and New Zealand country manager, Leanne Cartwright-Bradford, said customer insights showed many aren’t often able to find the time to sit down and read books. According to the company’s research, 62 per cent of people don’t read because they don’t feel they have time, and two-thirds have at least one book on their ‘to read’ list.

“As a brand, we wanted to explain what Audible can do in their lives and do that educational job, but also highlight the emotional and entertainment benefit behind our content through our campaign,” she told CMO.  

As well as being a highly recognised, influential and talented comedian, Cartwright-Bradford said Barber is a busy person and a mum, and the epitome of someone who hasn’t got the time to sit down and read books. She is also an author, with her book, Challenge Accepted, available via Audible, giving her further clout.

It’s this illustration of key use cases that informed Audible’s other celebrity talent choices for the campaign series. These include Masterchef star, Poh Ling Yeow, featured created a Hemmingway-inspired soufflé, and Clarke Gayford, featured listening to a book while doing the various chores of a stay-at-home dad. All also share their top reads.

Yet while a key customer sweet spot is the time-poor Australian, Cartwright-Bradford was quick to note Audible’s audience is broad. Its research found 6.6 million Australians have listened to audiobooks, 55 per cent of millennials have already listened to audiobooks, and older generations are also tuning in. Common scenario for using audiobooks meanwhile, include being on a flight (38 per cent) a longer road trip (32 per cent), for ‘me time’ (29 per cent) and relaxing at home (36 per cent).

Alongside research, internal customer data and usage trends, focus groups and qualitative research have been instrumental in brand building and campaign creation, Cartwright-Bradford continued. For example, usage data shows spikes during the morning and afternoon commutes, before bed, and with kids in the car, where they’re concerned about screens and want to make journeys in the car more peaceful.

In response, Audible recently brought in a free kids collection, resulting in a spike of users accessing this content around 7-8pm.

“There’s a real focus on use cases and how to use Audible,” Cartwright-Bradford said. “We see that in brand creative but it’s also in how we talk to customers across the whole experience. We talk about these moments to use Audible even once they’ve become a customer as there are so many ways a book can contribute to your life.”

Building ongoing subscription value

This emphasis on content can also be seen with changes to the Audible product offering. At the end of 2019, the company built in a new ‘Editor’s extra’ program, where it chooses a title it considers meets the bar for narration, quality of story and broader appeal to a wider base, and gives them away for free each month.

“We’ll talk about this in Facebook, encourage conversations around that, and we will look to promote that more in 2020,” Cartwright-Bradford said.

This strong content push has seen Audible investing significantly into local production, working with the likes of Marc Fennell and Nikki Gemmell to create free podcasts for customers.

“It gives customers more value, giving them more, so they see the value from their membership. That’s our broader strategy,” Cartwright-Bradford said.  

And it’s this emphasis on value that’s critical for subscription service providers across categories. When asked about whether Audible worries about consumer subscription fatigue as more multimedia content services are launched, Cartwright-Bradford said the company’s emphasis has to be on ongoing value and “being the best we can”.

“We have been around since 2014 [in Australia] but we can’t sit still – we have to keep responding to customers and giving them what they want, as well as thinking about what they might want but don’t even know yet,” she commented. “When you have a subscription-based customer, they choose to buy from you every month. You have to respect that and not take it for granted, and continue to innovate and grow.”

Addressing service ease of use is vital in another vital piece of the value puzzle for Cartwright-Bradford.

“The moment customers can’t find the thing they want, or get to it, that’s a bad moment, and when they could start to question the offering,” she said. “That’s why we are dialling up our offering and giving customers more. That’s what Editor’s Extra does – it has a hallmark quality that says we have vetted and checked the product we put in front of customers. We are saying it’s quality content, you can trust us as you listen to all our other stuff, and it’s free.

“We also have great onsite recommendations, which again help to solve that [access and relevance] challenge for customers.”

While Audible is big business and healthy one, it’s still a growing business, Cartwright-Bradford said. Investing in local content and market offerings are some ways the company is striving for growth.

“And we’re building and sharing these stories not just locally, but sharing them with the world,” she said, noting Fennell’s It Burns podcast was chosen to be promoted to US members. It ended up reaching number one on the American charts.

“It’s not just reflecting Australian voices for our local audiences, but taking them to the world and showing them off,” Cartwright-Bradford added. “Australia is punching above its weight… we have seen it in TV [content] and we’re starting to see that in audio too.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

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