Ah, our old friend audio. Part of our everyday lives, from radio to music, jingles to voice-overs, we hear it and consume it constantly. Most of the time we are probably unaware of just how much of it we’re digesting daily. But while ever-present, you may be forgiven for thinking of audio as lower down the marketing totem pole, given the current era of digital transformation. Image has become king. From Instagram to digital billboards, FaceTime to Facebook. But don’t ever forget about audio. While it’s been resting Cinderella-like below stairs for a while, it’s now on its way to a full and sparkling comeback. With marketeers recognising the emotional and personalised value that audio can offer, 2020 could be all about the power of audio.
So what is it that makes audio so promising? Why should brands integrate it into their marketing strategies and budgets and what output can they expect to see from doing so?
Watch your favourite movie with the sound off. Any difference? In so many instances of consumed media, audio is what triggers our emotional response. Hearing someone verbalise their experience can be far more compelling than reading about it. Learning from someone in their own words can motivate us in a way that no leaflet ever could. Audio feeds into our emotions and our human responses and embeds in a far more profound way than any other medium. Our reaction to sound is a primal instinct which begins in the womb. Sounds can trigger memories and feelings, voices and words can prompt very acute emotional responses. With Generation Z and Millennials reporting loneliness as an everyday issue, the offer of emotional connection with other humans through audio content is even more mood-enhancing and vital than ever before.
We’re all by now familiar with the pressures of screens. The addictive qualities of endless scrolling and the common feeling of insecurity when browsing other people’s apparently perfect lives. It’s no surprise then that a push towards a screen detox is on the rise. In a recent Spotify Trend Survey, 61% of Generation Z stated they believe there is too much visual stimulation every day and, in their desire to get away from this, they rely instead on audio content. To them, it offers escape and education, inspiration and community. It’s increasingly common to carve out time away from screens and to fuel ourselves instead with audio content we choose, we curate, and we feel good about. Couple that with our necessarily screen-free moments (whether driving or working out, cooking or walking the dog), brands should really be putting audio first.
Take podcasts. In 2019, 600,000 active podcasts were streamed online and the numbers just keep rising. We are engaging with and consuming more podcast content than ever before. Why? Because there is something for everyone. Because we can all search and find content that fits our tribe, our interests, our habits. There are niches and specialised content that cover every aspect of life and consumers feel embraced by that. The fact that podcasts represent a screen detox for a moment in our busy day offers a win. So there we are, specialised tribes of like-minded consumers, curating and consuming their choice of audio consumption. It’s a targeted customer group dream. And now that podcasts are fuelled by sponsorship and advertising, the hard work has been done. Brands can link with podcasts that dovetail with their products, that speak directly to their desired customer base. It’s the perfect fit. Audience customization at its best.
Then there’s the value for money. Audio content is cheaper to produce than video. Radio and podcast advertising is cost-efficient and crucially flexible. A campaign rolled out over audio is something that can be adjusted throughout, based on analytics and markers for success. A video or TV campaign will be set in stone and cannot be changed once it’s been submitted regardless of any peripheral changes. These days marketing teams need to be agile and spread their resources thoughtfully and in a way that can be tracked and delivered. Audio delivers this. And if you’re considering a big-budget visual campaign, it doesn’t make sense to leave audio as an afterthought. Brands would be missing a crucial path to connect with their audience.
The superpower of audio is not limited to radio and podcast content, the scope is widening all the time and streaming services are key. Spotify Ad Studio has opened up a new world of audio possibilities for brands. It offers the ability to create and deliver a more affordable and highly trackable audio advertising campaign. With minimum spend of only £250 (versus £10,000 to advertise on Spotify directly), the opportunity is available to all sizes of brands and companies. As an agency, we can create, monitor, and optimise a campaign that has been created based on location, age, interest, and musical genre. Personalised and responsive at all stages. With sponsored playlists adding to the marketing options, brands can get a halo effect from Spotify’s reach and customer data.
Music and audio have long been held as intrinsic to our cultures, to our communities, to our lives, so ensuring they are considered fully in our marketing strategies makes perfect sense. And with low economic barriers to entry, a high level of responsiveness, and hugely emotive response, it’s a no brainer that brands should be putting audio at the heart of their marketing campaigns.