Why marketers should spend more on digital audio in 2022

Could digital audio close the gap between ad spend and consumption this year? 

Zac Pinkham,  VP Demand, Europe at AdsWizz explains why 'visual fatigue' is leading more people to tune into audio than ever before.

As we look back to the past year and further down memory lane, it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the rise in digital audio consumption. 

Even though video was first heralded as a saviour for entertainment purpose during the pandemic, Zoom fatigue quickly set in and audiences began searching for new ways to escape their screens. Salvation came in the form of digital audio. Whether in the car or out for a run the ability for people to listen to audio regardless of their location was invaluable.

Data from Statista predicts ad spending in digital audio advertising will amount to £162m this year, as well as an annual growth rate reaching 8.52% by 2026, resulting in an estimated £225m of audio ad spend by that time.

Although this is growing in the right direction - it doesn’t begin to reflect the huge surge in digital audio audiences. Forecasts from eMarketer predict there will be more that 40m UK digital audio listeners by 2024

The sharp rise of digital audio represents a clear opportunity for marketers. How a brand sounds is as critical in driving recall as video - but despite this visual mediums soak up the vast majority of spend. In fact, a report from WARC and iHeart Media found that 25% of brands are “silent” - and missing audio entirely.

Audio currently makes up 31% of the media day for consumers, yet only receives 8.8% of brands’ budgets. So what is holding brands and marketers back?

Digital audio and its on the go format drew in over 38.7 million listeners in the UK as of early 2021, representing considerable opportunities for marketers and advertisers to connect with listeners. However, marketers are still very much focused on investing in catching eyeballs through digital, TV and mobile ad formats. In this race for eyeballs, brands and advertisers can tend to forget the power of audio, which in turn results in ad spend causing advertisers to miss the opportunity to take advantage of this booming channel.

Misconceptions and lack of knowledge are making advertisers and marketers reluctant to  invest in this space. As digital audio is a relatively new space for them, it comes with uncertainty: one of the most widespread concerns for marketers is getting the right measurement of their ads,  however digital audio advertising has made huge leaps in terms of attribution technology in recent years, so marketers need not be concerned.

Changing the record 

Digital audio campaigns have always been accepted as being effective at generating general brand awareness. However, the channel was left behind in the tracking era as marketers sought data and channels which clearly demonstrated effectiveness. 

Audio attribution technology bridges this gap. Modern tools now empower marketers to track, measure and optimise ad performance in real time. The impact of digital audio campaigns can now be measured on a granular level and accurately analysed as part of an omni-channel campaign. 

There are similarities to be drawn between digital audio’s current trajectory, and the explosion in mobile advertising over the past fifteen years. At first, advertisers were ill-equipped to leverage the spike in mobile usership that occurred in 2008, and there was a delay before ad revenue caught up with consumption. 

Global spending on mobile advertising was just shy of £20m in 2008 - predictions are that this will have risen to £250m by 2023. With a 129,000% increase in the number of podcasts in circulation over the past decade - there is strong evidence to suggest that digital audio could witness similar growth. 

Keeping eyes and ears open 

The ascension of digital audio ads is clear to see. The IAB’s Digital Ad spend report from 2020 highlighted a 17% year-on-year market growth, totalling £103.7m.  

Marketers need to look beyond eyeballs to maximise engagement. Audio attribution technology is helping advertisers understand the full impact of digital audio - informing engagement and investment in equal measure.  They have found in audio the right alternative to visual “fatigue” and a more intimate way to converse with their audiences. And it is all the more beneficial for audio advertisers as the medium is capable of garnering as much attention and engagement as TV, even when listeners are engaged simultaneously in other activities: a study from RadioCentre found that listeners are capable of absorbing the detail of radio ads while participating in tasks or activities as effectively as when engaged in other audio listening or TV viewing experiences.

With the rise of audio introducing more variety into the marketing mix, the battle for attention is now front and centre for advertisers; data shows that audio is capturing more of our attention with each passing quarter, and so advertisers need to be able to effectively leverage this growing passion. If audiences are listening, your brand cannot afford to be silent. 

By Zac Pinkham,

VP Demand, Europe