How Audio Advertising Can Revolutionize Brand Marketing

By Garrison Dua, VP of Demand, US AdsWizz

If Microsoft didn’t work out, Bill Gates could have made a career for himself as a fortune teller. In 1996, he wrote a blog titled ‘Content is King’, effectively coining the term in every marketer’s plan. In 2005, at an event in London, he said, “the future of advertising is the Internet”. Being able to accurately predict that digital advertising would become the cornerstone of modern marketing is a great accolade, indeed.

Everywhere you look, ads pop up—whether you’re being dazzled by a giant digital billboard or sitting on the couch scrolling through your social feeds.

Brand marketers have been quick to take advantage of this screen craze. The US’s digital ad spend is forecast to double between 2021 and 2024, from $211 billion to $317 billion. Digital is dominating brands’ budget allocations—but what about digital audio, the unsung hero of the advertising world?

Listenership across the country has steadily grown over the years. Insider Intelligence’s research found that 192 million Americans listen to digital audio weekly , a 38% increase from a decade ago. As of 2022, there are over 2.4 million podcasts with over 66 million episodes between them, further proving the rise of podcasting as the fastest-growing media format.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported digital audio spend hit $4.9 billion in 2021, a 58% increase over the previous year. However, this figure pales compared to the $64 billion funneled into TV advertising during the same period.

Audio has been an afterthought for too long. Here’s why brands should be giving audio advertising another listen.

Keeping a finger on the pulse

Consumers were happy to spend their days glued to screens pre-pandemic, but their behaviors have shifted over the past couple of years. At the pandemic’s peak, Variety reported that podcast downloads increased by a staggering 185%.  People are increasingly searching for an escape or to at least minimize the time they spend looking at screens, especially with remote work increasing our screen time.

This is where audio shines. Its ability to foster emotional connections with audiences without intruding on their lives is unrivaled. Music and sound can also effectively operate in the background. Audio’s convenience is a powerful asset in the brand marketers’ arsenal, as more and more people are using it for everyday activities like working out and commuting.

Reaching new consumers will always be an overarching goal for successful brands, and audio can leverage dramatically in this department.An Adobe survey revealed that 50% of consumers play digital radio at home while doing housework such as cooking and cleaning.  It has also been reported that about 28% of adults listen to podcasts while driving, further proving that audio remains one of the most accessible  and digestible forms of entertainment for consumers.

Memorability also works in audio’s favor. Nielsen’s studies show that digital audio ads’ recall is almost a quarter more than visual display ads. This is an opportune moment to put audio at the heart of your marketing budget, particularly with new tech innovations enhancing the possibilities.

Taking it to the next level

Personalization is the new frontier for brands. Aside from being vital to distancing yourself from competitors, publishing ads relevant to their environment improves their effectiveness. Industry data shows that 75% of listeners believe ads are more memorable if they seamlessly integrate into the environment.

This strategy can also increase purchase likelihood amongst target audiences. Epsilon’s research found that 80% of consumers purchase from businesses offering personalized experiences.

One of the most popular, and effective, audio ad formats are host-read ads. Almost half of all podcasts have the majority of their ads read by their host – and according to Nielsen, personality endorsements increase listener interest in advertising by 44%.

But there are still a few challenges: most host-read ads require manual processes and are often reserved for a handful of advertisers. But innovations in automation technology, such as that as AdsWizz’s Automated Host-Read Ads combines the power of the host-read ad format with the flexibility and scale of programmatic advertising.

Technology is the catalyst for unlocking digital audio advertising’s true potential. Employing programmatic purchasing drastically reduces time wasted on purchasing ad space while improving efficiency.

Accusations around a lack of real conversion opportunities have plagued digital audio for years, but that’s not the case anymore. Audio ads reach audiences at the time of listening, when they’re engaged, creating a one-to-one connection and immediate conversion. Innovative motion-activated ads also allow listeners to initiate one of several actions, ranging from downloading a mobile application to signing-up for a live event. There are no more excuses for losing prospects across their audio journey.

Time to turn the volume up?

Our billboards and bus stops are unlikely to become devoid of bright lights anytime soon, but brand marketers should realize that there are opportunities in addition to screens. More and more consumers are embracing digital audio as the perfect escape, and with so many channels available, the possibilities are seemingly endless.

Audio advertising is becoming increasingly accessible. Continued investment in tech-based solutions has streamlined the process and enhanced its efficiency—not to mention it has opened the door to premium conversion opportunities. No wonder digital audio is flying to the top of the charts.