One voice many platforms

For the first time in a long time,
 we have the upper hand

When I began working with newspapers in 2010 at OwnLocal, we had one mission: help every newspaper own their local market. It took more than six years, but we worked with more than 3,000 local media companies and generated tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for them each year.

A few months ago, I found a new mission: Make sure publishers had their voices heard in, well, Voice.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s upcoming HomePod are just the beginning of a revolution in voice computing where you will be able to listen, ask and learn in the home, car, on mobile and your headphones.

Make no mistake, these devices are beginning to disrupt morning routines for people across all demographics and age groups. They’re the new driveway, the new mailbox and eventually the new car radio.

But if you’ve been listening on these devices, there’s something missing right now: local news, local sports, local events, local politics, local human interest stories, local deals and so much more.

Essentially, that means what’s missing on these platforms … is you.

What started out as a novelty technology category is now growing faster than the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone. We are quickly watching the rise of platforms that will likely one day be cheap, ubiquitous and habitually used. Of the households that have bought one device, almost half have bought at least one more.

Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Samsung and more are betting that an important part of the future is in voice. And unlike Google and Facebook in their core areas, no one owns this space yet. No one knows what a show should be yet. No one knows what advertising should cost. No one has defined what a subscription looks like.

Which means we can.

For the first time in a long time, we have the upper hand. It’s a truism that content drives platform adoption, and we own the content. However, in fast growing markets, it’s true that windows of opportunity close even faster.

Here’s what I think we want to be able to do:

  • Publish our content once and have it distributed to every platform with real human voices.
  • Sell advertising against our content at a price we choose.
  • Enable subscription features with the ability to natively ask for payment at prices we choose.
  • Notify our subscribers that we’ve made something new for them.
  • Create mechanisms to aid in the discovery of high-quality local content.
  • Build an incredible experience for our listeners where we define how the format sounds without paternalistic oversight from our big distribution partners.

With disruption comes opportunity and this is the first really big opportunity we’ve had to define what our future looks like since Google and Facebook took over the world of content search and discovery.

This isn’t one of those times where it makes sense to go it alone. Big and small companies are integral to making sure we get what we want as publishers. It is an imperative that we show up in force to claim our turf in this new ecosystem.

Lots of larger magazines and online content companies have taken the first step and now it’s our turn to act.

This is not the time to hang back and see what happens, we must work together and we must do it now.

Jeremy Mims

Jeremy Mims is the Head of Strategy at SpokenLayer, the leading platform helping publishers navigate the voice space. They work with premiere publishers like Time, Slate, Medium, ESPN, Wired, The Intercept, Reuters, The San Francisco Chronicle, HuffPost, TechCrunch, Politico, Gizmodo, Ozy, Playboy and many more. Previously, he co-founded OwnLocal, which works with more than 3,000 local media companies.

He is on a mission to make sure local publishers are first class-citizens in the world of voice. You can reach him at to share what you’re doing in voice and how we can work together to help publishers own audio in their markets.

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This article was originally published in CPA's quarterly magazine PressNext. Click here to subscribe and have your print copy delivered.