The Democratization of Audio Has Opened up a World of Advertising Possibilities for SMBs

rainbow city skyline between ear buds

Here’s why just about every brand can benefit from this “whole new world”

By Eric Loughridge, Sr. Marketing Manager at SiriusXM-owned AudioGO

One of the primary reasons small businesses and entrepreneurs struggle to build brand awareness is that they simply can’t get the word out sufficiently—the high costs associated with advertising campaigns create a barrier to entry, and they often resort to low- and no-spend campaigns. However, there are more cost-effective ways at your disposal to market your business, your products or your services. Chief among them are digital audio.

In the last few years alone, digital audio has surpassed AM/FM radio in terms of listeners, and it even outranks video, gaming and social media as the country’s top mobile activity. Yes, you read that right: Audio is No. 1. Podcasts, in particular, have reached new heights of mainstream popularity, with listenership increasing by 22 percent year-over-year, making it the fastest-growing media audience to date. Audio is not only the one to watch, it’s the space to play in, representing a significant chance for SMBs and entrepreneurs to expand their reach and their customer base at the same time.

We are in the midst of an audio revolution, given that the majority of today’s listeners are of working age and use free, ad-supported subscriptions to stream music. The combination is literally music to any marketer’s ears—or at least it should be.

So if you’re new to the world of audio or looking for new ways into your customers’ minds, hearts and wallets, here are four reasons why it’s worth giving it a shot.

Digital Audio Ads Are a Direct Route to Brand Discovery—and Numbers Don’t Lie

There is a major challenge affecting the advertising industry, and it has to do with eyes and attention. Up to 86 percent of consumers are said to suffer from banner blindness, a selective ability that stops them from paying attention to your online display ads. But who can blame them in the first place? Every day, the average internet user is bombarded with up to 10,000 online ads! It’s understandable that most of us would prefer to ignore them or use ad blockers to decrease the amount of clutter.

Even if they aren’t banner blind, most users only look at search and social ads for less than 2 seconds before scrolling through and scrolling past. Then there are video ads, which are watched for an average of 10 seconds—10 seconds which most viewers spend waiting for the skip button to show.

In contrast, the average 30-second audio ad gets listened to 98 percent of the time. And due to the hands-free nature of audio, it is hard to skip these ads. Which is to say, people will hear about your brand while listening to digital audio, and the chances of consumers remembering your brand’s name are significantly higher—because you’ve captured their attention. Comparatively-speaking, those stats are hard to ignore. Or at least they should be.

Audio Understands the Power of Attraction

Audio ads have always had a unique power to attract listeners with their catchiness, dating back to the days of the radio jingle.

Unlike when we’re browsing the web, we’re deeply absorbed in what we’re listening to. We listen carefully and hear every single word from our favorite podcast. We sing along to the lyrics of our favorite bands’ songs. When we’re actively listening, there are relatively few things competing for our attention, as opposed to our interactions with the millions of banner ads we view online.

In fact, even if we blindfolded the entire country, the vast majority of us would still be able to recognize a McDonald’s or Farmers Insurance ad. We remember these commercials because they have a pleasant, familiar sound. Furthermore, music and podcasts, as we’ve seen, have notoriously high attention rates among their listeners, so borrow from the best— A good audio ad blending music, lyrics, nostalgia and emotion, like a catchy song, will stick with consumers.

Audio Lets You Talk One-to-One With Your Customer

Selling someone precisely what they want to hear is the most effective way to get them interested in buying from your company. They want messages that are tailored to them specifically, which is something that streaming ad platforms excel at.

Because of the digital, data-driven nature of today’s audio ads, audience targeting can be done at such a fine level that ad experiences can genuinely become one-to-one.

With the ability of digital audio to reach highly-targeted groups of listeners, SMBs can create ad campaigns that effectively introduce their products or services while establishing the brand among its target audience. Almost as if their sales team was pitching them directly.

Audio Is Budget-Friendly

We said it at the top, but budgets matter—especially now. Bang for your buck in terms of capturing eyes (or in this case, ears) is increasingly important. Meaning it’s critical to get your ad in front of the right audience, not just “any” audience. You can hyper-segment and choose where your ad plays and when.

So, whether your target audiences are sports fans, car buyers, job seekers, or new parents, digital audio offers a variety of targeting options—all the way down to targeting by zip code—to help segment and target all of your different customers, and at a reasonable cost.