Audio is the medium of the moment – so how can brands use it to connect?
- Audio has never been hotter, and it has become a staple of our everyday lives, as both the number of devices we listen on and the content itself has increased. As audio options have expanded exponentially over the last year, marketers have an untapped opportunity to reach audiences.
- It is important to factor in the unique qualities of audio-only campaigns – like creative made for listening – as well as brand suitability when developing creative and media plans. There are three main factors that brands should be considering to maximize audio campaign performance.
- Brands venturing into the world of audio should pay extra attention to the context in which their ads appear, the speed required to grab the attention of their audience, and tailoring their creative to audio.
When it comes to connecting with consumers, brands are always looking for innovative ways to form a meaningful relationship. This year, COVID-19 has made people hungry for content and many are increasingly devouring audio.
According to Comscore, audio streaming households have increased their listening by an average of 54 minutes per day compared to December 2019 for an increase of 32%. Podcasts tapping nearly every affinity group continue to grow in popularity, streaming is becoming the primary way people consume music and YouTube has just unveiled its new audio ad unit.
As we move into a 2021 with more optimistic outlooks, the rise in audio consumption will prove resilient. While more people may begin to venture out, it means more time spent in cars, where a large portion of audio consumption occurs.
As audio devices multiply by the day, making it easier for people to consume such content, it is unlikely audio is going anywhere. Therefore it is important that marketers have help understanding how to use audio to their advantage.
There are three factors to consider when creating an audio campaign. Leverage the specificity of audio formats, and ensure that the ad message and content it lands on is harmonious to strike the right note. And don’t skip the necessary fine-tuning to ensure audio ads have the right context: it might result in a discordant message.
Get the context right
86% of music listeners are using on-demand streaming, which is giving brands a new incremental opportunity to reach users who are listening. In particular, YouTube has become the biggest digital streaming publisher, featuring 1.8M music channels. Channel Factory’s brand suitability platform scores about 78% of that music as “suitable” for brands to advertise against.
However, that leaves 22% channels to be considered “not suitable,” meaning that particular music may contain profanity or explicit themes that brands might not want to appear alongside.
The concept of “suitability” is going to vary from brand to brand, however. For some brands, that might mean music containing profanity or explicit themes.
For other brands, not suitable might just mean that the content does not make sense for their brand: an ad geared towards men, the ages 18-25 would not make much sense appearing at the beginning of a Baby Shark video. That’s why getting the context right is critical.
Grab your listeners’ attention quickly
People are notorious multi-taskers. It is very rare that when they are listening to something it has their undivided attention.
It is more likely that they have a YouTube playlist or a podcast going in the background while they are working from home, making dinner or out for a run. Without the aid of bright colors and captivating visuals, hooking the listener within the first two or three seconds of the ad is key.
Maybe it is an unusual sound or a word that resonates with a majority of people that catches their ear and makes them sit up a little straighter in the first couple of seconds of the ad. Some brands have even branded their signature sound.
Think of NBC’s chimes, or McDonald’s whistle (before I’m lovin it…hear it?). It should be worth the listener’s time and draw them in to pay attention to the rest of the ad with no support from visuals. Creative will need to work hard, and fast, to break through a lot of noise.
Tailor your creative to a listening audience
What works in a visual campaign will not work in an audio-only environment. Adjust any call to action to make them tangible and clear—use a special promo code to activate a special offer instead of asking for a “click.”
Instead of “follow the link” ask them to “visit (this) website” and use a tailored landing page to track attribution in any audio campaign.
The creative should also be audibly stunning: to transport listeners to a beach vacation in the not-too-distant future, play the sounds of crashing waves and seagulls. If the audience is looking at a screen, it might be a spreadsheet or a work document, and sound is how to take them on that mini-journey.
Audio is the medium of the moment. However, are marketers approaching audio campaigns in the way that will make them most successful?
Master these three factors: getting the context right, grabbing the listeners’ attention quickly, and tailoring the creative to a listening audience for audio campaigns that will capture ears, hearts and minds.
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