Video has been the dominant ad format of choice for a number of years now. The latest IPA Bellwether report showed – no surprise – that video advertising is the biggest driver of growth among all ad types. One of the reasons for online videos’ popularity is because it’s more engaging than traditional online ads, and compared to linear TV advertising, brands are able to target users with greater precision and consequently personalise ads to make more of an impact. One negative of online video advertising, however, is that its production is expensive. And with 80% of brands either freezing or cutting marketing budgets due to the current economic climate, and inflation continuing to rise, it begs the question of whether video is really giving advertisers the best return on investment?
The problem, however, is that advertisers fear or do not know what their brand is without visual aids. But there is another rising star of the ad scene that’s proving to be even more successful at commanding user attention than video, and that’s audio. Once dismissed by brands as being unmeasurable, technological advancements and specifically the growth in omnichannel addressability have brought new credence to audio.
The real question is does audio have what it takes to oust video from the top of the advertising charts, and are we likely to see more brands shift budgets to audio throughout 2023 and beyond?
The transformation of audio advertising
Gone are the days when the only audio ads consumers might expect to hear would be radio ads for a local furniture store or car dealership. The digital nature of the world we live in means that audio inventory can now be bought programmatically to be served across numerous immersive channels such as Spotify, Amazon Music, Alexa, podcasts and all digital radio stations. With hybrid working now the norm and more people returning back to their commute, audio is a constant companion and incredibly immersive compared to other mediums or channels. The upshot of this is that brands finally have the ability to target audio ads to individual consumers and measure their effectiveness. While addressable advertising has been a staple in digital display for many years, it’s only the past two years that it’s really become a thing for audio but it’s growing at speed with many big agencies and brands heavily investing in it.
The ease of making audio dynamic
A major benefit of addressable audio advertising is that advertisers can use dynamic audio technologies to simply create and serve thousands of iterations of an audio ad at a fraction of the cost and time of dynamic video. For example, addressable video may mean a handful of creative iterations based on audience data, whilst addressable audio allows to create a 3 or 4 dimensional data approach including moment specific, regional and contextual data all at the same time. Importantly, solutions exist that use contextual and audience-level data such as purchase history, music preferences or location. This then determines how every aspect of an ad such as the voice over, music and sound effects will be most relevant to an individual listener, so the advertiser can dynamically serve them the most actionable dynamic ad.
Audio channels are on the up
Ultimately, video advertising might be scalable, but it is somewhat saturated when compared to audio with its growing consumer consumption numbers. Aside from being faster and cheaper than video advertising, audio also offers brands a way to connect with consumers through some of the most popular digital channels; Spotify now boasts 456 million listeners, a massive 74% of UK adults listen to digital radio every week, and 40% of 26 – 35 year olds tune into podcasts.
The popularity of audio can in part be put down to the pandemic, which drove a massive resurgence in audio with listening figures for audio streaming, radio and podcasts all up. And post Covid this hasn’t changed, with a recent YouGov study finding that UK consumers plan to increase the time they spend listening to these channels in 2023 with podcasts in particular booming in popularity, In fact, there’s not a single social influencer who doesn’t now have their own podcast! And due to the engaged nature with which users listen to podcasts, they present a huge opportunity for brand advertisers. To further cement this point, a Guardian study has found podcast advertising commands the highest levels of attention, far above TV, highlighting how audio really is a no-brainer for brands.
What the future holds for audio
The proliferation of audio and the fact it’s now a staple in addressable strategies means it’s set to become a key component of brand marketing plans. Addressability is a huge growth area for the advertising industry and brands such as Audible, Tesco Deliveroo, Jet2 and Sky, as well as major agencies are investing in it. Addressable content allows advertisers to plan, buy and execute content across multiple regions and channels whilst driving consistent branding and moment based marketing all on a single platform.
Savvy brands are already experimenting with audio and reaping the rewards. Jet2, for example, who is a big investor in addressable digital audio has recently overtaken TUI as the UK’s largest operator. We expect to see many more follow suit this year, particularly as the strain of the economic situation intensifies. The speed, cost and longevity with which brands can create addressable audio campaigns means audio is likely to start eating into video advertising budgets soon. And as measurement technologies are further honed and the effectiveness of audio advertising becomes even clearer, we expect to see an audio revolution in the advertising world.
Mar 15, 2023