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“Our main goal has always been our customer” – interview with Ramon Pallaske (Audible)

We’re glad to present our interview with Ramon Pallaske, EU Program Manager at Audible! Check out what challenges the world’s largest producer of downloadable audiobooks faces and what changes can we expect in the e-commerce industry.

What does your typical workday look like at Audible? 

My workday is pretty split – in the morning I deal with everything that comes from our local team in Berlin – troubleshooting for internal tools, training for new hires, working out best practices and looking at bugs colleagues might have encountered.

This is shifting around 15:00 when our colleagues in the US become active. Our parent office is in Newark, and our developers are mainly based there. So all work on upcoming features and chasing the resolution of bugs mainly happens in the afternoon.

In between is normally a 1h lunch break and sometimes a game of Foosball or 2.

What makes your product special?

We are the original provider of digital audiobooks – or digital audio in general. We’ve brought the first physical digital media player to market (with a whopping 4MB of space for ALL of your books). Meaning we have history and have always been driving the spoken word as its own entertainment category. Before we came there where mainly abridged versions of books. There were no Podcasts. We might not have invented everything, but I do sincerely believe that we formed this category, and we still keep pushing the envelope. We elevate the content, and in the last 1.5 years, we’ve been showing that people appreciate Podcasts with high production value and a high level of quality. And we apply this thinking to everything we release: audiobooks, Podcasts, our apps.

You’ve had a lot of training in the past. How have these experiences helped shape you into the place you are today?

Every training I ever had made it easier for me to do the job I am currently doing – not necessarily by being directly applicable but by helping me grow and by making sure I am still able to learn fast and take things with me. But lots of the challenges I am currently facing I am able to solve because I grew within Audible and know our product and our customers quite intimately – which is probably the best advice I could ever give to someone in a product or program management role. Know your product, know your audience.

I’ve noticed a lot of advertising for Audible on YouTube and social media recently. What is crucial when it comes to combining marketing with e-commerce in today’s society?

Personally, and this is more from personal experience as I am not actively involved in most marketing activities, I think that there are 2 things that make advertising for e-commerce successful: relevancy and having hype potential. And I think we have both – our selection of titles truly offers something for everybody and our Audible Originals are exciting content you cannot get anywhere else. You have to show people that what you have is something they could like and then pique their interest. I would say we are pretty good at both of them.

Do you face any challenges in managing your platform?

This is hard to answer – we are a company like any other and making sure we do comply with every legislation while still serving customer friendly experience means hard work, but we are more than willing to put it in. Sometimes that means you have to build features you wouldn’t have dreamt of, but that is part of the job and what makes it so rewarding.

Audible is the world’s largest producer of downloadable audiobooks. Do you recognize any potential competition? 

We face a lot of competition – we are an entertainment company, and today there are endless ways to entertain yourself. Reading a book is competition for us, as is going to the movies. And all forms of entertainment are equally valid. But we think we can offer an extremely immersive experience for entertainment and be an amazing opportunity for personal growth – that you can take easily with you and use while, for example, your hands are not free. So there are spaces we are uniquely qualified to fill. But we do believe that we have so much to offer that our customers not “just only” use us when doing chores or at sport, in our experience people make time for Audible. And that is amazing.

How do you think Audible will change in the next few years? Have you been noticing any changes in the e-commerce industry that you feel you should adapt to? 

Our main goal has always been our customer. Audible has been founded because renting tapes in your local library to listen to incomplete recordings of audiobooks is just not a good experience and could easily be improved with technology. And that is what we keep on doing. Today that means we need to make it easier for our customers to find their next great listen and to reduce the friction they might experience between finding it and starting to listen to it.

Changes in e-commerce are clearly a shift in customer expectations towards a frictionless experience as well as the rise of voice – and with our background and being part of Amazon makes us uniquely qualified to stay relevant and be present in those areas.

Thank you for the interview, Ramon!


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