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Brands That Aren't Taking Advantage of Audio Advertising Are Missing Out. Here's What You Need to Know.

Audio ads offer opportunities as a growing market that impacts reach and brand awareness.

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Advertisers and brands are leaving a significant amount of super impactful reach and brand awareness on the table. You've guessed it, I'm talking about audio . Remember the early days of , when you could reach thousands of audiences for ridiculously low costs? Now are the days of the audio momentum.

Koh Sze Kiat | Getty Images

According to WARC (World Advertising Research Center), there is a big gap between time spent with audio and its ad spend, as only a fraction of the overall marketing budget is spent compared to other media. Audio is an under-utilized opportunity, and that's going to change.

In 2021, digital audio advertising captured the highest YoY growth with an increase of 57.9% to the tune of $4.9 billion in the U.S. alone. No other digital advertising channel grew faster. What's more, gains were twice that of display advertising. Globally, the entire segment is projected to reach $6.78 billion by the end of the year.

Related: Why Audio Is the Future of Customer Engagement

Why audio?

Audio advertising works amazingly well due to its inherently intimate and immersive nature. It easily leverages storytelling so people don't feel like they are being bombarded with promotional messages as is the case with other media.

Data shows that audio is the most immersive media that triggers memorability, trust and connection (yes, ahead of video). It's also widely considered trustworthy across the spectrum — trusted more than other media sources.

Digital audio ads generate more engagement and emotional activation than other forms of media. A study by Spotify and Neuro-Insight found that digital audio was more likely to engage long-term memory for both details and memories, as well as increase emotional intensity — more than radio, TV, social media or digital video.

A recent study discovered that ad engagement climbs with each audio exposure across industry categories, platforms and genres. Even after 10 or more exposures within a week, the immersive experience grew without erosion, making every audio impression count.

So, exposing audiences to audio messages consistently offers major benefits in brand equity and sales. As immersion increases with additional ad exposures, so do purchase consideration and positive brand opinion. This is more proof that audio is a very effective tool when it comes to driving people through the funnel and pulling them closer to the point of purchase. Furthermore, the strong emotional impact and drive to take action have a universal appeal, too, when it comes to different platforms and devices.

For example, around half of smart speaker owners are likely to respond positively to advertising through these devices, according to the 2022 Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research. Of those who have heard ads on a smart speaker, 53% said they would respond, while 48% said they respond better to smart speaker ads compared to hearing an ad in another place and would likely consider the brand in question.

Related: How You Can Make Podcasts Your Secret Weapon for Promoting Your Business

The opportunity in programmatic audio advertising

By programmatic audio advertising, I'm referring to automated selling and insertion of ads in audio content. Much like its video and display counterpart, programmatic audio enables a data-driven approach that produces more accurate targeting, measurement and retargeting to execute campaigns with optimal efficiency.

Dynamic ad insertion, or DAI, plays a key role here when it comes to ad placement at scale. It's an automated and seamless process that offers advertisers the ability to serve ads into both live linear programming and on-demand content. As a result, they can quickly adapt messaging if need be, while also allowing publishers of audio content to monetize previously published content.

The ad opportunities here go far beyond podcasts (the channel that pops to mind most naturally when thinking about modern audio advertising). For instance, audio articles are a potentially lucrative programmatic advertising avenue that literally didn't exist a mere four or five years ago. Leading publications all over the world are offering audio experiences to their readership in an effort to boost reach and retention through native audio solutions.

For all media stakeholders, this is highly relevant, because unlike other digital advertising channels, programmatic audio allows an audience-centric buying approach instead of focusing on content or screens, as most advertisers are used to.

Related: The What, Why and How of Programmatic Advertising (and 5 Tips on Using It)

Why now is the time to tune in

Besides the momentum of an underutilized channel (that I've touched on above), audio is arguably one of the key drivers of further innovation and, subsequently, brand adoption. Brands can freely experiment with delivering their creative efforts in a new, yet familiar way.

Thanks to developments in AI, such as synthesized voices for specific content types (e.g., news), that increase the level of expressiveness, digital audio advertising is becoming even more affordable and faster. There are no additional costs to production, and all published content can easily be turned into audio and then have ads natively integrated.

Add to that the growing sophistication of adtech behind programmatic advertising and the highly targetable nature of audiences. This is important because in a growingly saturated and video-overloaded advertising environment, consumers often have unrealistic expectations for ads targeted at them.

In other words — it's access to unique media that offers laser-focused segmentation and contextual targeting of ads based on the content people are listening to. The way things are going right now, the audio market will not only grow but yield entirely new opportunities for revenue, such as more content creation options, better tracking, optimization and broader monetization of audio inventory.

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