The Sound of Summer

By Ken Lagana, EVP, Digital Sales & Strategy, Audacy

The Upfront Season Offers Prime Audio Opportunities for Advertisers

June is kicking off this summer with a bang. The season always brings people out of their homes into the sun, but this summer promises to bring people out in unprecedented droves. After a year stuck inside in front of their screens, Americans are itching to get outside! As a result, brands are adjusting their advertising strategies to accommodate a summer characterized by active consumers in a booming, even chaotic marketplace. This summer can teach us a lot about how to think about upfront ad buys more generally. Whether you’re thinking seasonally or long term, audio can offer the reach and flexibility that can make your brand stand out, all while driving superior performance.

Audio Endures in the Summer as TV Dips

This season does present some familiar advertising challenges. People move away from certain traditional advertising venues every summer. They turn off their TV to head to the beach and step away from their social media feeds to just get outside. Last summer, for example, consumers watched 2.5 fewer hours of television per week and spent one hour less using social media on mobile. Streaming audio, on the other hand, increased.1 Whenever consumers unplug, audio becomes the most reliable way to reach them. Whether they’re listening to the radio in their car during a family road trip or a podcast on their phone as they go for a run, audio stays with people on the go and throughout the day. Brands that need to heavy up their advertising during the summer months from beverage companies, to QSRs, and many categories in between, have long recognized the importance of audio. They know that it’s the best way to reach their audience at scale when they’re pointedly turning away from their screens. In fact, it’s arguably the best time to reach their audience, as their media environment is comparatively uncluttered by competing sources.

This year, the move away from screens will be especially pronounced. We all know that we’ve spent more time online during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we don’t always appreciate how much. When lockdown was just beginning in March of last year, Nielsen reported a 60% increase in media use.2 Screen time jumped up to an astounding 13 hours and 28 minutes per day for US adults — that’s over half the day!3 Later that year, experts estimated that adults were spending over 16 hours a day with digital media — nearly all their waking hours. If you count overlapping online activity (say a person streams their favorite TV show while filing an expense report at the end of the day), that number goes up to 31 hours. It’s no surprise that people want to log off, and digitally detoxify.

Audio is Personal Primetime – Ideal for Reaching Your Audience this Summer and All Year Long

When they do — and they will!4 — audio will be the best way to reach them. Research indicates that over-the-air (OTA), streaming OTA, and podcast programming and advertising are like a personal primetime for listeners. Audiences feel a personal connection and deep trust in audio. 7 in 10 US adults indicate they trust audio (notably more than they trust social media or digital pure play), and they show high levels of engagement and immersion.5 Podcast listeners in particular pay especially strong attention to audio content.6 That means you can reach your audience when they’re most engaged and least distracted by competing sources of advertising.

Audio has another strength in the face of this summer’s unique challenges and opportunities: flexibility. As the world reopens, supply chains will have to reacclimate to a bustling market and hyperactive consumers. Every day is different. Brands will need to adjust quickly. Where other types of media ads can be slow and expensive to customize, audio advertising can be produced quickly and deployed with precision according to region, demographic, or even a specific audience. If you need to change a promotion overnight or switch up your brand messaging on a different coast, a strategic radio spot or podcast ad can deliver exactly the messaging a brand needs.

Now consider this – while the audio advantage will be especially apparent this summer, it won’t be exclusive to it. The benefits of audio — personal primetime, flexibility, unparalleled reach — apply year-round. As people head back to the office later in the year, audio should be an essential part of any holistic marketing strategy. The combination of radio, streaming, and podcasting finds your audience when most engaged, and away from their screens any time of year.

This reflects a truth that grows more apparent each year. Each year, a large portion of the media advertisers buy upfront TV which costs more but delivers less. Only audio consistently and efficiently delivers on its promises. There’s no better way to spend BOTH efficiently AND effectively upfront, for the summer and beyond.

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1 Nielsen Total Audience Report, weekly time spent among users (A18+), Q3 ’20 vs Q2 ’20 Live+Time Shifted TV, Streaming Audio on a Phone, Social Networking on a Phone.

2 Nielsen, 2020. “Staying Put: Consumers Forced Indoors During Crisis  Spend More Time on Media.”

3 United Health Care, 2020. “Screen Time 2020 Report.”

4 Marketplace, May 2021. “Tourist destinations are bracing for post-pandemic summer crowds.”

5 Alter Agents, 2021. “Trust in Short Supply? Audio’s Immersive Nature Can Help Build It.”

6 Audacy, 2021. “Audio Is Personal Primetime.”

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