The Upside of Digital Audio Advertising in a Downturn

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By Ian Murphy, Business Development at AudioGO, AdsWizz

We’ve all heard about the ‘organic’ ways of scaling back your marketing in a downturn, like overloading your social media or cleaning up your website. And there’s no doubt these actions are helpful; it’s just that most businesses can’t get by on these tactics alone. Paid advertising will always be essential for maintaining revenues and generating new customers.

Even if sales do get harder to come by, top-of-funnel marketing is the last thing you’ll want to cut. Withdrawing from the market is never a good option. But if you want to affordably and effectively keep some skin in the game, digital audio advertising is one of your best bets for that. So long as you make sure to keep these things in mind:

Consider programmatic and self-serve solutions, wherever possible.

Unlike traditional media buys, programmatic ad campaigns can be temporarily paused and resumed on demand. In a weak economy, or when times are uncertain, having the flexibility to turn your paid ads on and off as you wish is important. Which, thankfully, is a function that comes standard in a lot of today’s self-serve platforms.

In the past few years, there’s been a new crop of DIY audio ad products aimed specifically at SMBs on the rise. Using automation to save on time and offering features like an integrated recording studio to save on cost, these self-serve platforms are making it easier and more affordable than ever to create, manage, and run your own audio ads on leading music, radio, and podcast streaming apps.

And should budgets ever shrink, the appeal of these no contract, all-in-one, end-to-end, self-service programmatic ad solutions will only continue to grow.

Consider hypertargeted ad campaigns, whenever possible.

Another feature about these self-serve audio ad platforms that should help with your spend is the level of personalization you’ll find in their audience targeting. Because when every ad dollar counts, one of the worst strategies you can embrace is generalization.

While broad, demographic-based ad campaigns do have their place and time, it’s definitely not during a downturn. ‘Spraying and praying’ won’t cut it. You’ll want to take a more strategic, almost hypertargeted approach to balance your reach if you’re pinching pennies. Nevermind that it’s more effective at driving engagements. But the more specific your audience is, the more likely your budget won’t be wasted on folks who think your ad is irrelevant. As always, knowing who your customers are is key because you should focus your budget on them.

So whether it’s homeowners, or event goers, or car buyers that you’re trying to message, digital audio ad platforms today give you hundreds of interests and personas to narrow your target audiences by. Again, ensuring your money will only be spent on just those listeners who can make an impact on your business.

Always focus on return on ad spend (ROAS).

Getting more bang for your buck is another reason to consider digital audio as a core part of recession-proofing your media mix. Consider the facts: a recent Nielsen study measuring 63 advertising campaigns of carbonated soft drink brands found that Pandora generated the highest revenue per dollar relative to cost compared to other media.

Which is to say music streaming offers an incredible return on investment. Music to any value-seeker’s ears.

Always go where the customers are growing.

According to a survey by Jacobs Media, people who listen to AM/FM radio on weekdays fell from 92% in 2018 to 86% in 2022. This downtrend is happening to cable television as well. In a recent Statista survey from February 2022, 42% of households had cable television subscriptions, compared to 47% in January 2019.

In contrast, streaming music and podcasts are experiencing a dramatic spike in popularity. Globally, there were 523.9 million music streaming subscribers in the second quarter of 2021, up from just under 487 million at the end of the first quarter of 2021. Similarly, it is expected that there will be more than 100 million podcast listeners in the United States by 2024, compared to 75.9 million in 2020.

Going a step further; according to HootSuite’s The Global State of Digital 2022, when it comes to the daily time spent with media, music streaming services and podcasts showed the highest year-over-year increase, 2.2%, and 1.9% respectively, compared to social media (1.4%), games consoles (1.4%) and using the internet (1%). AM/FM radio showed no change, while TV showed a decrease of -2%.

Embrace younger and more diverse audiences.

And as the number of people who consume traditional media keeps declining, it’s giving small businesses greater opportunities to reach younger and more diverse audiences. Their next generation of customers.

Which means your advertising has to meet them where they are—and where they are, is on digital audio apps. In 2021, Nielsen data found that podcast listening among Hispanics aged 25 to 39 had doubled in the last three years. The same study revealed that Black listeners stream audio more than other audiences and pay more attention when brands reach out to them, with an average brand recall of 73% for podcast ads.

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