Introducing The 2021 State of Audio.

Research Reveals How Audio Supercharges Ad Campaigns

By Alli Romano, MediaVillage

While audio has legions of loyal fans, in-demand content and creative advertising solutions, many advertisers are underinvested in the medium and missing out on prime opportunities.

Audacy is on mission to bring this imbalance to light, partnering with independent third-party sources to share new insights on audio’s quantitative impact. Data shows that when brands shift a fraction of their ad budgets to audio, it lifts engagement and drives action. And, as brands look to optimize their media mix, audio amplifies messaging on other platforms, making advertising more effective overall.

“In a word, audio is immersive,” said Idil Cakim, Senior Vice President of Research and Insights for Audacy, which owns more than 500 local audio stations, leading podcast studios Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, as well as the Audacy streaming app. “Consumers make emotional connections, and it holds their attention like no other medium.”

Edison research shows that 95% of Americans aged 13+ use audio in some form on a daily basis. Media consumers spend almost a day (21 hours) of their week on OTA, streaming OTA or podcast content. That’s according to the Audio Amplification: Engaged Impressions Study*, Cakim said.

So, what’s the medium’s secret sauce? It creates intimate relationships with listeners, Cakim explained. Local radio fans and podcast devotees are fiercely loyal to their favorite hosts, and they trust those personalities to recommend products and services. Listeners rely on their favorite AM/FM stations and streaming music to provide a soundtrack for their daily lives. In today’s fractured media environment, that level of familiarity is difficult to find.

For maximum effect, Audacy advocates an “all audio” approach, where advertisers bundle AM/FM radio and digital audio. That combination mirrors a modern media consumer’s audio journey, Cakim said.

It also optimizes campaigns, allowing brands to make multiple impressions. In the morning, a listener might stream a news podcast over coffee; then tune into their favorite AM/FM station on the morning commute; and, in the evening, play music via their smart speaker. As the listener moves locations and changes devices, audio — and advertising — travels with them.

Combining over-the-air and digital audio also produces better campaign results. In fact, the new Audacy Total Audio study indicated that advertisers who used both over-the-air (OTA) and digital audio saw as much as a 55% lift in sales.

Shift a Little, Gain a Lot

In a recent analysis, Neustar tracked 40 national advertisers’ media plans and found that moving just 1.2% of the spend to audio produced as much as a 23% increase in audio return on ad spend (ROAS).

Auto clients that increased audio spend by 1.8% saw their audio ROAS jump 23%. A 1.1% increase for retail advertisers produced a 16% lift in audio ROAS, and a 1.2% increase for financial services advertisers generated a 14% jump in audio ROAS, according to the Neustar analysis.

“Audio works so well because of the emotional connection and because it can be in so many different places and platforms,” Cakim noted. “You can’t really drag your TV into the street.”

Amplifying Other Media

Across top ad categories, adding audio to the media mix impacts sales by as much as 83%, according to Audacy research.

It also makes other media “work harder,” Cakim said. When auto retailers added audio, it boosted impact on TV, out of home and online video advertising, the Neustar report found. After telecom advertisers activated audio, they saw a lift on TV, online display, paid search and paid social.

Audacy’s reports show an audio ad campaign starts to produce measurable results in just one week and effects last up to 22 weeks.

“When there is so much clutter and so much screen fatigue, everyone is looking for a way to break through,” Cakim said. “We all need to get more share of ear, mind and wallet. Audio is a highly nimble, effective medium to drive that home.”

Industry Mission

Audio publishers need to advocate for their media, share research and lobby for a larger share, Cakim asserted. Several categories have inefficiencies that could benefit from optimization with audio — among them auto, retail, financial services and telecom.

Audio companies need to “roll up their sleeves and have important conversations,” she said. “It’s a matter of recognizing how under-invested a plan might be in audio and realizing that audio is a highly efficient and effective medium. Audio is in all the moments that matter.”

*Audio Amplification: Engaged Impressions Study, Alter Agents, August 2020

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