During the pandemic, more consumers have turned to music and podcasts for entertainment from the comfort of their homes, leading to exponential growth in audio media.
In fact, eMarketer estimates that radio and digital audio services in the United States will generate $16.8 billion in ad spend this year. While the growing popularity of audio provides advertisers with a much larger audience to reach, it can also introduce new security and ad fraud risks for brands.
With audio advertising on the rise with no signs of slowing down, here’s what brands need to consider as they dive into the growing audio pool.
Increase the volume when measuring
Entering a new space comes with uncertainties, and for brands, the most common concern with audio ads is measurement. Some digital platforms, including audio, have been slow to adopt programmatic technology and the ROI tracking tools that come with it.
This is partly because audio platforms originally focused on growing their total number of paid subscribers, rather than investing in primarily ad-supported freemium models. Yet, with more and more consumers opting for free, ad-supported services, it’s time to address these measurement issues.
When Advertiser Perceptions surveyed US advertisers last year, more than half of respondents purchased podcast ads by audience segment or on a podcast network. Yet a much lower percentage of these advertisers said these methods worked best for hitting their KPIs. Audibility, rather than viewability, has become a key metric for advertisers considering additional audio spend.
Research shows that consumers are willing to listen to advertisements on audio platforms, especially when it comes to podcasts. In fact, podcast ads are considered one of the top five most trusted formats out there.
However, another reluctance of advertisers to enter the audio space is the wide range of content on podcasts, as well as safety and brand appropriateness issues. Although there are many genres of podcasts, the content can and does change from episode to episode.
For example, if a feature-style podcast covers a range of news-driven topics — from consumer privacy on social platforms one week to renewable energy the next — brands need tools to identify the right solution for their advertisements. With the variety of content from episode to episode, brand safety and adequacy capabilities that extend to a very granular level are critical across all digital audio platforms.
Refine audio ads
As audio advertising rapidly gains momentum, there are best practices we can leverage to navigate the space.
One of the biggest opportunities in audio advertising is the level of granular measurement and the ability to operate at the show level and beyond. With the right tools, advertisers can have incredible control over where their ads are shown and which listeners they reach. This means advertisers will also be able to take advantage of enhanced brand safety and contextual capabilities to isolate singular show, episode topic, and ad module placement.
The industry can leverage lessons learned from brand safety and appropriateness capabilities developed for video ads and translate them into audio-only environments. It’s possible to cut at a granular level with audio and bring contextual targeting to audio much faster than the years it took to develop it for video.
It’s clear that audio advertising is here to stay. However, bringing programmatic capabilities to audio will help this medium take a leap forward in terms of growth opportunities.
Nearly half of Spotify subscribers are expected to use the platform’s free and ad-supported services by 2022. Advertisers are expected to demand greater programmatic capabilities in digital audio. Radio has always been seen as a great channel for building awareness at the upper end of the funnel, but digital audio platforms have the ability to drive direct conversions if they adopt greater targeting.
Ultimately, digital audio is expected to top $1 billion in programmatic ad spend this year. As technology advances, audio advertising will continue to increase and present greater opportunities for brands.
While advertisers may be hesitant to test the waters on audio, it opens up new ways for marketers to make their mark in the industry. Even as we return to a new normal in the coming months, audio is not an opportunity brands can afford to overlook.