Everyone who works in advertising recognises that video is a premium inventory. But many of the same factors that make video so effective, also apply to digital audio. And unlike video, audio can be used to reach consumers, wherever they are and whatever else they are doing.
When they’re relevant to the audience, audio creatives can be your strongest seller. And the best thing? Many advertisers have yet to realise this, which gives first movers in digital-audio advertising a massive competitive advantage.
Introducing digital audio
In the past, planners have considered audio too difficult to measure and its lack of apparent sales infrastructure required to handle large numbers of transactions has resulted in audio taking a back seat to other media formats in planning stages. In the UK for example, only 0.13% of total advertising spend went on digital radio .
That’s a startlingly low figure, when you appreciate the value digital audio advertising represents. The average CPM for a digital audio campaign is less than a quarter of what you’d pay for a display video ad and around a sixth of the cost of in-stream video inventory.
In addition, consumer listening habits have changed, today over 79% of audio consumption takes place while people are multi-tasking or engaged in activities where visual attention is needed . Through audio, advertisers can connect with consumers who are too busy to notice or consume other media types.
Now traded programmatically the medium has suddenly become much more personal, more addressable, and more susceptible to real-time optimisation. Jon Mew, CEO at IAB UK says “digital audio is so much more than just a 30 second radio spot. It’s an opportunity to create personalised advertising experiences that truly resonate with people.” 
Using audio can also be considered as a better way to reach your desired audience and achieve greater outcomes than other media forms such as TV or video. With most audio ads being non-skippable, the only way a listener can stop the ad is to stop or close the application they are listening through, digital audio allows for a realistic target listen-through rate of between 85-95%. Compare this to desktop and mobile ads, with 78% and 66% completion rates respectively , and audio already holds an advantage.
The power of sound on the go
Perhaps the most exciting thing about digital audio, is the relationship advertisers can build with the consumer. Many digital audio platforms have a good understanding of what activities their users are engaged in when they listen to a certain playlist. This gives advertisers highly specific contextual information to use when choosing an audience. For instance, a sports drink might target people listening to music at the gym or while jogging.
Because most consumers listen to audio on a mobile device, it’s also possible to add location as one of the criteria for choosing an audience. Brands can use this information not only to reach consumers who would otherwise be unreachable, but also to drive outcomes that are location specific. For instance, an advert might push users to certain retail or food outlets in a given area.
With the right partner, it’s even possible to tailor the content of the advert in real time based on data signals such as the local weather, the time, and the specific demographic profile of the listener. This helps to drive brand engagement and maximise the effectiveness of the media.
When you add to the mix, insight into what the consumer is doing, digital audio becomes even more powerful. Rakesh Patel, Head of Sales for the UK at Spotify agrees with this saying “Spotify believes that music is a mirror of consumers’ passions, and therefore offers brands an opportunity to be part of consumers’ lives in an intimate and contextually appropriate way. Spotify’s 100% logged-in user base allows brands to take a people-based marketing approach. Brands and agencies can access Spotify’s premium digital audio inventory programmatically or direct, and we are seeing rapid growth in trading through our programmatic offerings.”
Too big and too effective to ignore
Digital audio includes digital radio, podcasts, emerging voice integrations and music streaming—the latter now worth $251 billion on its own. Taken together, these formats account for 38% of the entire music market. And that figure is growing all the time. It’s time the advertising industry started to pay more attention to digital audio and to build platforms and models that allow brands to fully realise the value digital audio can add.
To find out more about x-Audio, Xaxis’ solution created for clients to reach the ever-connected audio listener, click here.
1. UK ad spend hits record £21.4bn as digital dominates again, 25 April 2017, Thomas Hobbs, Marketing Week
2. IAB/PwC Internet Advertising Revenue Report, 26 April 2017.
3. Nielsen Audio Report, 2016
4. IAB A Handy Guide to Audio for Buyers, 2017
5. 2016 Global Video Benchmarks, Innovid, February 2016.