Consider for a minute the humble audio ad unit. For the better part of a century it’s been relegated to the sleepy backwaters of media creative. Brands became less dependent on audio when TV started dominating the media-scape 60 years ago because they couldn’t show the product on the radio, and agencies would much rather produce video ads which generate more billable hours and seem to win all the awards. With all that headwind audio (aka radio ads), have pretty much hung out in advertising’s basement, only getting 6%-7% of the US media spend decade after decade.
Now things are finally starting to change thanks to the digital revolution. First pureplay streamers like Pandora and Spotify entered the market with their internet-based music delivery. While the technology improved the listening experience compared to AM/FM and even song downloads, the streamers were still just competing for the same paltry allocation of radio dollars – sort of like moving peas around the audio plate. But now, thanks to advances in audio AdTech, we’re beginning to see digital audio lead the category towards incremental growth. Part of this increase is coming from technological breakthroughs like voice-activated ads, sequential messaging, and refined data targeting. Another reason for the growth is the influx of new connected IoT devices coming to the market, which often times don’t have a screen. No screen means no video or display ads (obviously!), making audio the one and only ad unit which can engage users on these new devices.
So much for sleep backwaters! As a media professional who’s devoted a quarter century of his career to promoting the medium I’m as excited as ever about audio’s prospects moving forward. It’s almost like we’ve been keeping a cool secret for years and now word is getting out!