Audio – A New Era in Advertising?

Advertisers and brands constantly need to seek new and innovative ways to reach audiences if they are to hold their own against competitors. In the current market, more and more businesses are looking to audio as a tool to reach their consumers’ subconscious – why? Because it’s economic, creative and subtle in its approach.

With the consistent growth of podcasts’ popularity over recent years, the increase in their appeal as a marketing tool has gone hand in hand. In 2016, Bridge Ratings predicted that as marketers gain more belief in the medium, spend will increase year-on-year by 25% until 2020.

Likewise, Advertising Age, predicts that advertisers will push for their content marketing strategies to produce audience-oriented content which aligns with their brand’s purpose and values. This information points to one conclusion, the integration of audio and podcasts in communications and marketing strategies.

As a marketer, there are a few key options available within the audio market and you can make the decision on what works best for you and your business from a range of factors such as cost or simply which style of advertising you like the most.

Dynamic Ad Insertion

Dynamic Ad Insertion in layman’s terms is the concept of inserting audio advertising of varying length into a podcast, with businesses generally paying for their ad to be played up to a certain number of episode downloads. This form of advertising is win-win for both show producer and investor: it allows podcasts to monetize their programme and businesses to target specific audiences.

Although some industry insiders are stating that dynamic ad insertion could have a negative impact on CPM rates and ad quality there’s no evidence to support these theories, and in fact, on the contrary, it seems to offer more possibilities for the field as adverts can be inserted or re-inserted post podcast publishing.

Andy Bowers, chief content officer at Panoply, the podcast network owned by Graham Holdings states: “Dynamic ads will benefit everyone: the programme creators because they will be able to have fresh ads for older episodes, the advertisers because they will not pay for out-of-date ads, and new advertisers who can get in on [a show] that remains popular six weeks after it comes out”.

Furthermore, dynamic ad insertion offers more opportunities to smaller businesses, which in turn will mean that large conglomerates won’t monopolize as much of the market. This style of advertising is key to bringing in new, brand-centric advertisers and revenue models to the podcasting field but we are still to see what affect this will have on costs, which currently lie at $15-$30 per 1,000 listeners – roughly 5 times more than a traditional radio spot.

Whether you’re still to make up your mind about dynamic ad insertion, Sarah van Mosel of Acast nicely summarises her thoughts on it, “Dynamic ad insertion is one end of the evolving podcast ad spectrum, with branded content on the other extreme and baked-in ads in the middle. As a marketer, I’d rather have more options, than less.”

Branded Podcasts

For a savvy business the branded podcast is a logical route to go, instead of paying for external advertising it allows businesses to be creative in their messaging and reach their audience on a one-to-one level.

Tech entrepreneur Anthony Frasier explains “what makes branded audio content great is they allow brands to create an entire experience.”
With this in mind, here are four examples of successful branded podcasts in diverse fields. Each one demonstrates how creative a company can be within the audio medium:

  • The Message – A collaboration between General Electric and Slate Magazine, this was one of the first branded podcasts to reach #1 on iTunes. Each episode is a fictional sci-fi tale based on sound technology.
  • Upstanders – Starbucks, undeniably one of the biggest and most recognised brands in the world. So how did they approach the idea of branded content without it seeming like straight up advertising? By linking the brand to powerful, human stories. Upstanders is a collection of stories which celebrate ordinary people doing amazing things to create positive change.
  • Variety Pack – A podcast about work might not sound like an appealing concept, however, office chat platform Slack turned it into something dynamic and interesting by focussing on people and teams who do extraordinary things.
  • Open Account – Umpqua describes itself as “the West Coast’s largest, and most unconventional, community bank” and their podcast is in line with the brand’s messaging. Open Account discusses money in an unconventional way, looking at personal stories regarding money – from those who have it and those who don’t.

Audio Advertising

If however, a branded podcast isn’t right for your business, there are other ways to reach podcast listeners via the more traditional route of audio advertising.

Triton Digital pulled together data from nearly 1,000 podcast fans to create an in-depth report looking at podcast market trends. The document reported that a massive 65% of podcast listeners would be more willing to buy products from companies who have advertised on their favorite podcasts and that 45% of listeners claimed they visited a sponsor’s page after hearing a sponsorship message/advertisement during a favorite podcast.

These figures are hard to ignore and marketing strategists and data analysts are in agreement regarding the power of audio advertising. Anna Bager, from the Interactive Advertising Bureau states: “Podcast audiences are devoted fans whose enthusiasm carries over to the companies that sponsor their favorite shows. That ‘halo-effect’ is impressive. It is no surprise that more and more brands are including podcast strategies as part of their marketing mix.”

Further supporting this idea, Market Enginuity’s chief podcast strategist Sarah Van Mosel pointed out that 70% of podcast fans usually avoid visual advertising by using ad blockers online and ad-free services like Spotify subscriptions, but accepting audio content comes more naturally. Speaking at an SXSW panel on the “Evolution of Podcast Advertising“ she stated, “It’s a market that other kinds of digital media just aren’t penetrating.”

The evidence is clear, audio advertising is a unique way to tap into your market and in particular harder to reach consumers. If your business has a specific audience in mind which it wishes to reach, one of these methods: dynamic ad insertion, a branded podcast or choosing audio advertising might be just the solution.

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