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Why eBay wants to be inside your ears – in a good way (VB Live)

Presented by Dolby Labs

Consumers are spending 30% more time listening to spoken word audio, including podcasts and news, and 43% listen daily. That’s why audio is an incredibly powerful way to reach customers. Learn how to add it to your marketing mix in this VB Live event.

Register here for free.

Audio marketing is having a moment, with podcast listening growing and platforms like Clubhouse springing up, but eBay has always believed in the value of branded audio content, says Rebecca Michals, director of seller community and engagement at eBay.

Historically, the company has relied on various channels to help new and experienced sellers learn. Their radio show, called eBay Radio, ran for 15 years from 2003, evolving into the eBay for Business Podcast in 2018. Since the launch of the podcast, there have been over 650,000 downloads of the 130+ episodes.

As Michals points out, audio content is a particularly useful way to engage eBay listeners while their eyes and hands are busy — packaging up orders, for instance. And, she adds, podcast audiences are also highly qualified.

“Everyone has actively decided to listen and engage with the podcast — they’re inviting us into their homes and into their ears,” she says. “It’s an effective channel for connecting with your audience or your customer and having that personal, almost one-to-one feeling of engagement between the brand and the customer.”

During last year, downloads for the podcast grew by 17%, accompanied by a lot of additional engagement from their sellers. Michals puts it down, in part, to the “2020 effect.”

“Everyone is looking for something to engage with, be entertained by, be informed by,” she says, and she doesn’t expect that to change, now that the year has ticked over. “We definitely plan for more growth in the year ahead,” she adds.

With a weekly niche podcast such as theirs, the challenge is keeping the content fresh and informative, mapping to what the audience is most interested in, and what’s top of mind. They keep an eye on reviews and rankings, but also continually poll the existing audience to determine what kind of content they want to hear. (The top listener request is for segments with eBay employees and execs that introduce and explain new products, features, or policies.)

They also use data from their complementary channels, other branded content, social channels, YouTube, and content they publish on their own site, reviewing the performance of marketing across those channels to determine what is most successful, and what kind of content is landing in the community.

“With podcasting, you don’t get a lot of information on the success of individual segments within a show,” Michals says. “We have to use a little more external data to understand what’s going to be the most successful. We know what resonates in other channels is likely to perform well and be well-received in the podcast too.”

Right now they’re focusing their audio marketing on increasing awareness and reach of the podcast, and continuing to use data to drive the audience. They’ve found, and research shows, that a weekly 30-to-60-minute episode is right for a niche podcast.

Michals says that they are considering expanding the model in the future, but any plans rely on their ability to show up for their audience in the ways that are most compelling for them.

“If you find that any content is working anywhere, it’s important to figure out how to extend it so you can continue the impact,” she says. “Targeted content for passionate audiences has value. We’re always trying to make sure that our audience feels like we’re speaking directly to them, to their interests and priorities and their needs as sellers on eBay.”

And, she notes, the success of audio content marketing relies heavily on the quality of the audio.

“This is in some ways a very intimate format — we’re literally inside of people’s heads, in a good way,” Michals says. “But for someone to invite you into their ears, and to offer an almost personal feeling of connection, you have to make sure that it sounds really high-quality.”

For remote or call-in guests, it’s okay to have old-school phone level audio, she explains, but for the conversational pieces and the interviews, it has to be a high-quality experience. Right now, that relies on furnishing guests with the equipment they need to sound as good as possible at home.

“We’re always pursuing quality around audio and figuring out better and simpler ways to have it be as professional-sounding as possible with the least amount of hassle to guests,” she explains.

Now seems like the right time to launch an audio marketing strategy, but Michals says don’t plunge, plan. The most important part is to understand the why. Why do you want to pursue a branded audio channel for your business, and what are the possible benefits for the brand? Why do you have a story to tell? Why is it unique? Why is it particular to you, your brand, your audience? It has to be super relevant, and it has to be unique, Michals asserts.

“Nobody listens to a podcast to just hear marketing messages or commercials, she says. “You have to understand why your audience is going to show up every week to listen to what you have to say. What’s the key differentiator? If you can take your brand’s mission and purpose, and bring that into an audio strategy, make sure that the content is engaging, informing, entertaining even, that’s going to be the success for increasing your brand’s breadth.”

To learn more about the ways audio content can boost your brand and engage your audience, and how to offer a flawless audio experience, don’t miss this VB Live event.

Don’t miss out!

Register here for free. 

Attendees will learn:

  • How brands can include both branded audio and media, and user-generated media in their go-to-market strategy
  • The benefits of branded audio media
  • How offering services, or partnering with audio forward companies, to generate or support quality audio can provide a competitive advantage and differentiation

Speakers:

  • Rebecca Michals, Director, Seller Community and Engagement, eBay
  • Will Mayo, Founder + Chief Strategy Officer, SpokenLayer
  • Sabba Keynejad, CEO, VEED.IO
  • Sripal Mehta, Senior Director, API Platform, Dolby Labs
  • Stewart Rogers, Moderator, VentureBeat

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