While Audio Advertising has been relatively consistent for the better part of 50 years, it’s now going through a massive transformation. It’s no longer as simple as putting out a big (and often impersonal) ad campaign in an effort to reach the people you’re trying to reach. Today, it’s all about reaching the right people via the right platform at precisely the right moment while giving them a much more targeted and personalized experience. Over the past 15 years, we’ve watched the industry progress from “radio” to “audio” and the strengths of the medium develop from reliable to innovative.
In the spirit of reflection, it’s interesting to examine just how much audio advertising has evolved. These are some of the biggest changes we’ve seen:
Opportunities Galore: It’s hard to imagine, but before 2000, the mainstays of today’s audio landscape barely existed – satellite radio, streaming, and podcasts were just starting to emerge. Of course, these channels have exploded in popularity and continue to evolve rapidly, opening up a dearth of opportunities for brands to connect with new audiences. 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. Today’s listeners are much more tuned in and engaged with what they’re listening to, providing greater opportunities for advertisers to reach them.
Podcast listeners, for example, have been shown to be so invested in their favorite shows that they actively listen to ads contained within the episode. And if a podcast host endorses a particular product, even better as listeners tend to be more open to the product. Even with the availability of ad-free streaming services, millions of listeners opt to listen to the ad-supported versions of Spotify and Pandora, again giving brands the chance to share their products and services with a more engaged audience.
Content Explosion: Naturally, the rise of these opportunities goes hand in hand with the explosion of audio content. While years ago talk radio dominated the audio waves, podcasts are taking center stage. There are over 600,000+ active podcasts shows catering to just about every topic or interest imaginable. With podcasts, listeners hear exactly what they want to hear, exactly when they want to hear it, giving advertisers the ability to reach exactly who they want to reach when they want to reach them.
One of the biggest advantages for an advertiser of endorsed audio is the “host trust factor.” When your favorite host or influencer tells you how much they love a product or service, loyal listeners activate and buy that product or service.
More Fragmentation: Of course, with more opportunities and content comes more fragmentation. From 1922 when the first radio ad ran to even 10 years ago, AM/FM radio was a straight shot for an advertiser looking to connect with Americans en masse. But with so many opportunities to reach target audiences today, how do advertisers decide where to invest their dollars? Yes, audiences are much more engaged, but what about search and discovery? With 120,000 podcasts launched in the last year alone, how do advertisers find the shows or identify the hosts or influencers that will best align with their products? One big way advertisers are combating these challenges is through AI.
AI technology (like our aiWARE platform) can surface tons of data to find what’s most meaningful to brands, discover new content, find the right podcast influencer and help guide brands to making smart, cost-effective decisions around their ad spend.
What’s On The Horizon?
As we usher in 2019, we look forward to watching the Audio Advertising landscape continue to evolve. We expect that audio content, especially podcasts and voice-enabled devices, will become more unique and personalized. We also expect podcasts will continue to become mainstream and even get closer to finding the listener (instead of the listener looking for the podcast). While these opportunities and content expand, we believe that AI will continue to guide audio advertisers on their quest to deliver a more meaningful and personalized customer experience.
If we’ve learned anything in the last few years it’s that the audio space is full of surprises. As the industry continues to innovate, advertisers will need to keep pace and challenge themselves to take full advantage of the opportunities that await. Thirty years in the media business and involved in over $1B of ad campaigns. One thing is certain, AUDIO IS BACK!