Audio Advertising Comes of Age


Heard of audio advertising? It’s only natural that you’d think immediately: “radio.” After all, for decades that was its main — and only — platform.

In today’s digital world, though, the ‘audio advertising’ moniker envelops more than just radio. From podcastsOpens a new window to music streaming services, as audiences consume ever-more content digitally, especially on their mobile phones, there’s a raft of in-app opportunities to target consumers.

That said, this new age of audio advertising hasn’t just recently emerged into view. Marketers have been aware of it for some time.

We’ve just been wary that it hasn’t met its promise. The ROI on audio advertising, for instance, has long been difficult to prove.

Meanwhile, the focus for most marketing campaigns and strategies is, as Zeus Peleuses writes for Martech SeriesOpens a new window , on “reaching the right people via the right platform at precisely the right moment while giving them a much more targeted and personalized experience.”

Admittedly, achieving that goal has been a challenge through audio advertising channels.

It now appears, however, that this is changing — like many longstanding, popular, modern digital marketing avenues, audio advertising is experiencing a significant transition thanks to emerging tools and technology in the space.

Plus, the exploding popularity and success of podcasts, digital radio and streaming have proven to brands that there are substantial opportunities to connect with audiences through these mediums.

While it’s traditionally been difficult to leverage the relevant consumer data from audio advertising, there have been promising developments that suggest the sector may finally have reached its critical inflection point.

Indeed, according to the latest IAB Internet advertising and revenue report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, digital audio advertising revenue saw a 22.9% increase from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $2.3 billion last year.

Let’s look at the key elements boosting its growth.

Relevant martech makes good on its promises

There’s a reason that 85% of respondents to the 2019 annual Rise of Digital Audio Advertising reportOpens a new window , which surveys manager-level or above employees at media and advertising agencies, said they plan to increase digital audio investments in the coming year.

One of the main drivers of the sector’s growth are the tools and technology now available to marketers that help them manage their audio campaigns, automatically collecting and analyzing the most important data for actionable insights.

And we may finally be at a point where ROI can be measured: A recently-launched joint project between mobile engagement specialist Big Mobile and global digital audio advertising platform AdsWizz has developed techOpens a new window capable of tracking unique visits to retail locations as a result of specific audio campaigns.

In fact, in its first campaign the service resulted in a 90% boost to footfall traffic for target retail locations.

Meanwhile, audio ad automation is evolving quickly, streamlining the buying, selling and fulfillment of audio ads.

Indeed, programmatic systems have simplified the relationship between the buyer and seller sides, which no doubt has convinced more suppliers to enter the space, including Pandora and marketplaces like TargetSpot, TuneIn and Triton Digital, which have millions of daily audio impressions.

Engaged and loyal audiences

“Digital audio is a naturally mobile channel,” says Ryan Manchee, VP, Media Innovations + Technology, at digital advertising company Centro.

Considering that people generally consume audio while on the go, it can be part of many stages of a consumer’s day. Moreover, the nature of the dynamic between listeners and this form of media makes it particularly personal.

And, as Peleuses explains, “unlike TV and digital ads, audio ads don’t have to compete with other ads for eyeballs or work within the space confines of a screen.”

As such, audio ads offer a high level of engagement — on a generally cost-effective platform, no less.

With audiences only hearing one (difficult-to-skip) ad a time, audio ads are surprisingly efficient and effective: Nielsen Media Lab found that the recall rate of audio ads is 24% higher than traditional display ads.

Plus, and this is important, the consumer data produced via audio is powerful: marketers can make use of audience locations (geo-targeting), interests, consumption preferences and more to target individual listeners with unique, personalized messages.

It would appear, then, that audio advertising’s time has come — again.