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Audio offers a "huge opportunity" for publishers, according to The Economist’s Robin Raven.

At the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit this morning, Raven, vice-president, product management, spoke about the how the outlet's users are engaging with audio via its mobile and tablet apps.

The Economist's weekly audio edition is an exact replica of the print edition and is available on its iOS and Android apps, as well as on its website, as part of the outlet's subscription package.

Some audio is also available for free within the 'editors picks' section of the app.

However, speaking to Journalism.co.uk, Raven noted that "the audience that uses the audio portion of our [app] digital edition is probably our most engaged."

"They tend to stay in the app," explained Raven, and the "churn" rate of users leaving the subscription is lower among those who have engaged with audio.

economist audio screengrab
Screengrab from The Economist app

Audio content is one way The Economist aims to encourage "finishability" across its print and digital platforms, with content designed to sustain enough interest for readers to read as much of an edition as possible.

The editions are voiced by professional presenters from platforms such as BBC Radio 4, which Raven said appealed to a global audience  "because they listen to the World Service as well".

Raven also noted that people tend to be more engaged with audio in The Economist's apps than they are on its website, due the more "flexible" nature of in-app audio which users can listen to while on the move, while jogging or commuting to work, for example.

The app allows listeners to download audio rather than streaming, something Raven noted "might be a little bit more challenging" if users are in an area with poor Wi-Fi.

And while the outlet is not yet using social media to promote audio content in the way that NPR in America currently is, Raven said that users who have not accessed the app in a while may get a "friendly push notification" to remind them to listen.

Other audio products from The Economist include a daily podcast and a daily radio product, In Other Words, which was launched earlier this year.



"We've got big plans for audio," said Raven.

"So if you look at where wearables are going, you look at where smart TVs are going, there are other opportunities to consume content that previously you might not have thought you'd get from a newspaper."

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