Audio has become one of the fastest growing media channels and is showing incredible value to brands and advertisers that take advantage of it. In this six-part session at Advertising Week, various players in the field discussed the state of the industry, where it’s going next, and what companies have done to achieve successful campaigns.
Leading off the session was Edison Research’s Tom Webster, where he discussed the larger trends in the space. Their research shows that the consumption of online audio has increased to 67% of people ages 12 and up, as ownership of smartphones increases. Webster also discussed a shift in the percentage of time that people spend listening to audio, also known as Share of Ear. Share of Ear is still dominated by AM/FM radio, but the gap has decreased. The average podcast listener listens to audio for roughly 5.5 hours per day. This includes music, podcasts, radio, etc. As of 2014, AM/FM Radio accounted for 51% Share of Ear, but in the time since then, the use of streaming audio, YouTube, SiriusXM, and podcasts have all increased. With the increases, AM/FM Radio is now down to 44%. While it remains the major force in the field, the gap is closing with the emergence of these other avenues.
With the emergence of these alternative audio consumption methods has come the convenience of voice assistants. According to another speaker, Bret Kinsella of Voice AI,63% of marketers feel that voice is an important channel, and 33% believe that it is moderately important. Smart speaker purchases have nearly doubled since 2018, and is not only happening in the US, but on a global scale.
There was also a panel featuring speakers from AudioBrain, HBO, 360i, and Spotify to talk about sonic branding. As Spotify’s Rob Walker put it, the key to a brand thriving in the audio world is to take what’s true about the brand, and translate it through audio using data and what’s known about the listeners. For HBO, the sonic branding that happens prior to the start of a show resonates with listeners and serves as second nature that you are watching an HBO show. AudioBrain’s Audrey Arbeeny highlighted the importance of brand authenticity, and putting your listeners in the driver seat to create surprises that will stick and resonate with them every time they hear it. That’s part of what Mindshare does through its own sonic consultancy and sonic branding work—helping brands build their audio DNA and finding how and where it fits into the larger media landscape.
Neuro-Insight’s Pranav Yadav led the final part of the session, talking about the neuroscience behind audio and highlighting a study done with Mindshare. As he put it, audio drives behavior and imagination. In their research with Mindshare, Neuro-Insight looked at voice assistants and why the voices are generally female. The study showed that the female voice is more approachable, and younger audiences respond better to a female voice. It was interesting to think about the way the brain responds to audio and voice.
For those who want to learn more, you can check out that study here. And, in separate research at Mindshare with our newly launched NeuroLab, brands can see the potential for audio stories to drive stronger emotions and recall among consumers.