It’s the age of audio, listen to the facts

Audio is booming, and the stats prove its effectiveness in advertising. So why does adspend continue to be diverted towards more traditional channels?

As an escape from all the screens we use on a daily basis, consumers are turning towards audio for convenient content. Zac Pinkham, AdsWizz VP Demand for Europe, explains the basics of audio advertising, using it with programmatic, and why it is still an undervalued channel despite the evidence proving its effectiveness.

Audio advertising first took to the airwaves in 1922 when AT&T, America’s leading telecoms company, paid for the first original radio ad. General Mills (makers of Cheerios and Häagen-Dasz amongst other things) quickly took the concept and ran with it, releasing the first radio jingle in 1926

100 years later, audio remains a marketing staple, spanning television, social media, and music streaming services – and the UK’s audience is tuning in in their droves. Total digital audio listenership is forecast to exceed 40 million by 2024 – up from 36 million in 2019. 

Brand marketers haven’t ignored this ascendancy. The UK’s digital audio adspend exceeded £163m in 2021, a 58% increase on 2020’s levels. 

But a gulf between audio advertising and alternative channels persists. WARC’s research found that audio accounts for 31% of consumers’ total media consumption – yet receives less than 10% of overall advertising budgets

So why do brand marketers need to invest in audio advertising? 

Time for marketers to change their tune with audio

The numbers don’t lie: digital audio is making its way up the charts. Consumers are searching for an escape from their screens.

Digital music and podcast streaming services doubled their market share in 2022 from 8% to 20%. UK podcast listenership is predicted to hit more than 25 million by 2024, compared to 13 million in 2019. 

Brands can harness sound to create intimate, emotional experiences which don’t interfere with consumers’ increasingly-hectic schedules. This unrivaled convenience is driving digital audio’s ascension. 

However, just because audio takes a back seat in media plans doesn’t mean it lacks impact. Nielsen reports that digital audio ads achieve 24% more recall than visual display ads, doubling purchasing intent. Music can also be a decisive factor in generating brand affinity. Adobe reports that 50% of consumers enjoy listening to digital radio while completing household chores. 

Despite all the evidence, adspend continues to be diverted towards more traditional channels. The UK’s online display adspend hit more than £10bn in 2021, compared to £7.3bn in 2020. The time has come for brand marketers to change their tune – and budget allocations. 

But elevating audio advertising to the top doesn’t automatically result in a smash hit if you don't leverage the proper tool stack to achieve premium results 

Video (didn’t) kill the radio star

Innovative, advanced technology has been disrupting the advertising scene for decades, playing a vital role in digital audio’s sustained growth. 

Consumer expectations have shifted. Delivering personalised, relevant experiences should be brand marketers’ priority as 80% of consumers concede that they are more likely to buy from brands that offer tailored experiences. And three-quarters of listeners acknowledge that ad recall is improved when the content reflects the moment or setting. 

Brand marketers can use programmatic audio advertising to cater to this demand. This automated purchasing technique ensures audio ads are delivered alongside content with similar subject matter. And contextual targeting isn’t the only option. Ads can utilise a multitude of targeting parameters – including device type, weather, geo-locational and point of interest (POI).  

A perceived lack of conversion opportunities deters greater exploration of digital audio advertising. Innovative tech solutions, such as motion-activated ad technology, prevents consumers from being lost across their digital journey. Listeners can complete a predetermined action – be it registering for a newsletter or initiating an app download – and brand marketers can track the metrics. 

Technology is proving to be the great equaliser

Audio advertising is now a centurion. And it is proving that old dogs can learn effective new tricks. Digital audio is an evolving medium that connects consumers across various platforms. Technology is proving to be the great equaliser. Recent innovations, including programmatic audio and motion-activated ads, address traditional fears around metrics and conversions. 

Nobody had heard of TV or digital 100 years ago – and who knows what the next 100 will bring. But what we do know is what it will sound like. Audio will always be a part of the human experience – and with technological progress, marketers can see with clarity how it influences the metrics that matter.

Zac Pinkham

VP of Demand (Europe)