Three key trends in digital audio advertising
The COVID-19 pandemic perfectly illustrates the power of audio advertising. From the UK Government’s widespread use of the format to deliver guidance around social distancing and testing, to the World Health Organisation’s light-hearted radio campaign – urging people to do a puzzle or take a nap and “help save humanity by really, really not getting anywhere near it” – audio advertising is delivering vital messages to the ears of those that need them.
Advertising around audio content means brands can reach people at times and in places where visual advertising isn’t possible, and create a strong emotional connection with listeners. As outcome media company Xaxis explained in a recent whitepaper, “audio programming can draw listeners in, create a sense of intimacy, and form a literal touchpoint into ears. It can stir emotions, inspire laughter and foot-tapping, even a dance. It is a way consumers educate themselves, find out the news, hear from celebrities and politicians, express social preferences, and indicate moods, tastes, and even generational status.”
Audio advertising spend inevitably dipped a little in 2020 due to consumers’ tendency to listen to digital audio content during away-from-home activities such as commuting. But impressive growth of almost 12% is expected in the UK this year, and there are significant opportunities for expansion.
What is digital audio advertising?
The phrase ‘audio advertising’ is often synonymous with traditional radio campaigns, so it might be assumed digital audio advertising is simply advertising on digital radio. Indeed, radio is still an incredibly popular medium, reaching almost 90% of UK adults with an average weekly listening time exceeding 20 hours. And digital radio accounts for nearly 60% of that time, with people listening via DAB, online radio services or digital TV.
But digital audio is far more than just radio advertising. It encompasses other types of media including music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer or Amazon Music. The UK saw almost 140 billion music streams last year – an increase of 25 billion on 2019 – as locked down listeners turned to music to lighten and brighten their days. Digital audio advertising also includes ads within podcasts, which continue to grow in popularity, with almost 20 million podcast listeners expected in the UK by 2024.
As a technology PR agency we work with a variety of businesses within the audio advertising space. Here are three of the top trends that are currently driving the expansion of digital audio ads across these media channels:
Trend 1: Programmatic audio advertising
Taking the lead from display advertising, audio advertising is increasingly automated using programmatic technology. In the US over 16% of radio ads are already transacted programmatically and this figure is predicted to reach at least 21% by 2022.
Programmatic audio advertising delivers enhanced targeting capabilities, enabling brands to serve different ads to specific target audiences depending on data points such as demographics, location, interests and past purchase behaviour. It also enables the use of dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) to adapt certain elements of an audio ad – such as voiceover, soundtrack or call to action – in real time according to information about the listener. These programmatic capabilities allow highly-targeted messaging, which ultimately improves ad experiences and makes advertising campaigns more effective.
Trend 2: Interactive audio advertising
Interactivity is a second key trend driving growth in digital audio advertising. Enabled by rapid adoption of smart speakers combined with innovative technology, brands can now encourage listeners to react to ads using voice commands and take action immediately. As well as making ads more engaging, this level of interactivity drives performance by shortening the path to conversion, and allows the effectiveness of audio ads to be more accurately measured.
Audi, for instance, launched an interactive audio campaign in London with programmatic ad platform AdTonos. It was the first time an interactive audio campaign ran across commercial radio on smart speakers, and it allowed listeners to react to ads with a voice command to book a test drive or find a local dealer. Equally Berocca recently ran an interactive audio campaign that allowed listeners to use Amazon Alexa and simple voice commands to either find out more information about its effervescent vitamin and mineral tablets, or to order them for home delivery.
Trend 3: Synchronised audio advertising
Like any advertising channel or format, digital audio works best when it is used alongside other channels to reinforce messaging and deliver seamless experiences, so the third trend driving its growth is synchronised audio advertising. Digital audio can be coordinated with other formats such as out-of-home (OOH) advertising to boost engagement and drive performance.
For example, renewable energy supplier E.ON ran a synchronised campaign across the Digital Ad Exchange (DAX), with the aim of reaching consumers in more moments throughout the day and encouraging them to see the brand as an innovative energy provider. The campaign geofenced OOH sites displaying an E.ON poster, and then served corresponding audio ads to listeners who entered those geofenced zones. The results of the campaign included a 26% increase in brand consideration as well as site traffic that resulted in four times more smart meter sign-ups than average.
Digital audio advertising is a sector with enormous growth potential. The enduring popularity of radio, the continued increase in music streaming and podcast listening, and the increased adoption of smart speakers – combined with rapid advances in audio advertising technology – makes it an exciting and dynamic space in which to operate.