Mark Smith, Head of Display, discusses the journey of audio and the affect it has on advertisers and audiences.
There is much to be excited about in our incredible industry. Over the years we have seen a tremendous amount of change, the speed of that change being an ever increasing one that is here to stay.
With change comes opportunity and that is absolutely the case in the world of audio. Because audio has been on a journey, one hell of a journey. From way back when sound was first recorded in the late 1800’s it has been on a rollercoaster ride.
The big consistent change in audio revorlves around how the ‘sound’ is delivered. A journey that has seen the introduction of the gramophone, the 8track, vinyl (obviously my personal favourite), cassette, cd, mini-disc, mp3’s and in more recent years streaming. This is exactly the same story for radio and how it evolved from AM to FM to DAB and even internet based broadcasting breaking before the turn of the millennium.
And with the change in the format of how audio is being delivered comes the change in the devices we use. From beautiful old machines and chunky pieces of furniture right through to our smart phones and TV’s of today. This change, ultimately resulting in audio being easily accessible at every point in our busy daily lives, including those moments when other channels are out of reach. The power of audio – when we want it, where we want it and how we want it.
And whilst the method of delivery changes, the value of audio and the sounds and messages we consume ‘with our ears’ remains the same. Topics & issues of the day, musical styles and the presenters themselves may come and go, but, essentially what is being delivered remains the same – music, people, news & events.
As marketers we need to understand everything about this audience. Currently not only are we able to have a much clearer view (through the release of data due to these changes), but we are also able to heighten the way we react to this and target our messages. There are areas of audio where we can combine levels of targeting to ensure that not only is our message getting to the right person but that it is delivered in the right environment alongside the right content, at the right time, on the right device (the list goes on) and of course with the right message.
Clearly some areas of audio are not as highly targeted, but we know more about the audiences across all of audio than ever before. The value of this is multiplied when we also take in to consideration the way that audio is absorbed. Not only is the consumer in an environment where they can hear the message, they have also made an active choice to spend some time listening to their favourite music, radio show or whatever it may be. Audio is passionately consumed and the value of state of mind and association is significant. Research has proven that messages received through audio are consumed in an incredibly unique and valuable way. If you have never experienced Bauer’s ‘the power of sound’ presentation I would highly recommend it.
All of this culminates in audio continuing to grow as a channel. The recent RAJAR results show us that 48.2m UK adults tuned in to radio every week in Q1 of this year (89% of all UK adults) another YoY increase. Digital listening hours also increased YoY, by over 39m hours in fact, and with an increase in digital listeners of 1.2m.
Audio is an innovative space with huge investment and development in tech and data. The investment and progression doesn’t stop there though as we also see further significant investment
from media owners in this space in terms of talent and content. Yet still, even with all of the advances audio escapes having to sit on the naughty step from time to time, being quite naturally exempt from viewability, ad-blocking and brand safety concerns that may exist in other channels.
Not only is audio stronger than ever for advertisers right now, but the future looks even brighter. Audio also has many other gems up its sleeves, with the likes of the resurgence in podcasts and the growing popularity of home assistants (Amazon’s Echo alone is expected to be in 40% of households by early 2018). This all provides even more connections, wider overall reach and further targeting. There is also the much touted possible digital switch over (as we have seen for TV) which will strengthen the opportunity audio has to offer further still.
At Maxus we understand audio and recognise the importance and value it holds. Not just as a stand-alone channel but in terms of the strong connections it has with other channels, be it physical, data, media owners or the overall journey itself. A great audio campaign clearly needs audio experts but it also needs wider expertise in order to understand the bigger picture. That is why at Maxus, audio sits within our display department which encompasses multiple channels allowing us to both focus on the specialism and the overall campaign. Whilst audio on its own is a strong proposition it becomes far stronger when used intelligently with other channels as we continue to prove with every campaign we run.
Audio has a strong message, you should listen to it.
Oh, and don’t forget to keep buying vinyl!