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Audio Advertising: The New Critical Interface to Reach Premium Consumers

Photo of Georgia Meyer
by Georgia Meyer

A key way MIDiA Research defines premium consumers is the extent to which they fall into the early adopter and early follower consumer categories. An early adopter is characterised by a propensity to be the first to try out new technology and services, and be a person sought for music and TV recommendations. Early followers are quick to embrace emerging consumer trends which have been defined by the early adopters. The significance of these categories is that they are disproportionately influential amongst their peer groups. They are the filter through which new business models, content and hardware formats are tested. Though they are not the largest consumer segments, they are nonetheless crucial segments to understand in order to get a sense of what new products and services are likely to make an impact and become mainstream.

Music subscribers are a highly influential and valuable consumer segment

According to this logic, music subscribers are some of the most influential consumer segments that advertisers may wish to reach. This group – perhaps unsurprisingly – spend the most time with audio-based content of all consumers. This is true across all of the following audio only behaviours: using voice control (24% do so compared with a 9% consumer average); listening to podcasts (27% do so, compared with a 10% consumer average); and listening to music in a car (69% compared with a 55% consumer average) - source MIDiA Research consumer survey data, Q1 2018.

Paid music subscribers are spending time on music services that are devoid of audio advertising. Yet, 63% of these paying subscribers stream music for free and 60% listen to music on the radio. These behaviours, coupled with their propensity to listen to podcasts, mean that their audio habits are still diverse enough to warrant experimentation with audio advertising formats to reach them. 

The Tech majors understand how critical audio advertising is becoming

In May 2018 Google announced that it was developing programmatic capabilities for audio ads across Google Play, SoundCloud and Spotify. That same month, Microsoft announced that Cortana was teaming up with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to enable integrated voice control across business-oriented (Cortana) and personal (Alexa) tasks. Another indicator of how seriously distributors and advertisers are taking the audio ‘interface’ is the podcast network Panoply’s announcement that it has built in-house programmatic capabilities with Nielsen.

The techniques are different, but the rules of successful engagement are the same

The visual interface for brands and consumers is constantly being reconfigured. Unsought, contextually insensitive and interruptive advertising experiences are increasingly ineffectual in a landscape where valuable consumers increasingly curate and seek out the brand messages they wish to hear (illustrated by their propensity to follow their favourite brands on social channels).

The same themes of seamless and contextual brand integration and relevance are critical to ensuring that audio advertising cuts through. Moreover, creativity and exceptional sound design will be instrumental in delivering engaged consumers. Brands that succeed in this new and developing format will have considered how audio works across their entire brand, not just for incidental purposes like an ad on Spotify.

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