The Power of Audio as a Full-Funnel Channel

By Susie Sogot-Lewis, Senior Sales Manager, AMA

With the global digital audio advertising market expected to leap beyond $10 billion in spending this year, it’s clear that advertisers are waking up to the success that digital audio formats can deliver for their businesses.

While audio, mainly through terrestrial radio, may have previously been seen purely as a tactic for upper funnel brand awareness activity, the emergence of digital channels and addressable creative have opened the medium up to the entire marketing funnel. And, with that, comes the promise of higher reach, impact, engagement, and memorability.

A format for every tier

Each of the different digital audio formats has a different role to serve. Whether it’s digital radio, podcasts, or music streaming, there are now a number of effective ways to connect with consumers at scale through the medium of sound. And these formats are uniquely positioned to deliver on that full-funnel marketing potential. This is because it is now possible to use dynamic call to actions or even serve unique offer codes to drive specific sales actions from listeners. For example, encouraging users to download a particular app from the Apple store, or visit a local brand at this address. In short, the creative can now deliver both brand-building awareness and drive individual conversions.

This is supported by a recent study from WARC and Spotify which revealed that retail and CPG marketers view digital audio platforms as having a role to play throughout the path-to-purchase. It’s because of this that 64% of marketers expect their podcast spending to increase this year, while 55% see more being spent on advertising within music streaming environments.

As marketers rethink their media strategies, those diving more into audio advertising up and down the funnel will be able to deliver impactful ads that combine tremendous reach with high levels of audience engagement. Research from Neuro-Insight found that digital audio platforms deliver average engagement levels that are 23% higher than terrestrial radio, 18% higher than social media, and 14% higher than TV. And podcast ads, in particular, are cited by brands as having high levels of listener engagement.

The benefit of digital audio is that listeners can be tuned in throughout the day via various forms – whether they are on their morning commute, out for a run, or cooking up a feast in the kitchen. This presents a real opportunity for brands to connect with people in an intimate, personalised environment that can help facilitate the path-to-purchase. For instance, on the way home from work a listener could hear an ad for a dinner deal at a local supermarket.

Providing the answers to fragmentation

Digital audio’s power across the marketing funnel can also be extremely beneficial to marketers in a world of audience fragmentation and privacy-first thinking. With 47% of marketers looking to diversify their spending to address fragmentation, rich in first-party data, digital audio provides an avenue for brands to better target audiences and gain incremental reach.

This first-party data can be supplemented by contextual data to serve listeners the most relevant ads at the awareness, consideration, or conversion stage of the purchase journey. And, because digital audio can be bought programmatically, brands can utilise dynamic creative to serve various iterations of an audio ad, each with a message that is relevant to that particular listener, at that particular time.

Variations in the ads could be around anything from the person delivering the voice over, the content of that voice over, the music, or sound effects. And these variations can be based on data such as weather, location, time of day and podcast genre. This granularity enables advertisers to make the listener feel as if the ad has been created just for them and, in turn, drive greater cut-through and response from the audience.

Heard across the funnel

Faced with an environment of economic uncertainty, an increased focus on privacy, and a need to make their budgets stretch that little bit further, digital audio channels provide marketers with the perfect avenue to deliver the most effective and efficient advertising.

The combination of reach, relevance, intimacy, and listener affinity provided by digital audio can break down the barriers in a world where consumer attention is at a premium, and meet them at the moments they are most engaged and receptive. And this can all be done in a way that is dynamic and relevant to the listener.

Now, marketers can flexibly plan, buy, and serve content without sacrificing effectiveness. And as the channel continues to grow and mature, those that fail to embrace it across every stage of the path-to-purchase will miss out on the outcomes they are hoping to achieve.