Since the music industry began, it has been a sea of change, with companies investing billions in ad technology. And now, the latest development is making even bigger waves. We'll be taking a look at just why brands are spending just as much on their audio identity as they are in their visual identity, and how the likes of Spotify and Pandora are helping them do it.
When Bob Dylan sang 'The Times they are a Changing' sang back in 1964, he may not have been prophesising the ever-shifting digital music streaming industry but he may as well have been. And the truth is, audio can go to places other media can only dream of. With 79% of audio consumed while listeners are engaged in activities that visual media cannot reach them – on the road, at the gym, even in the shower – brands are waking up to the idea of using audio to connect with audiences. But streaming doesn't just offer you the chance to reach a wide audience. What's really important is its ability to reach the right audience in the right context. To take advantage of this, streaming companies such as Spotify, and most recently Pandora, have invested heavily in programmatic advertising.
While programmatic advertising may have been one the big marketing buzz-terms over the past few years, there's still a lot of confusion around what it actually is. Simply put, programmatic advertising, or real-time buying, it's a new method of ad buying that uses software to buy digital advertising space. So what does this mean for the world of audio? Well, more than anything, it removes friction from the traditional buying process. "With greater ease of buying across devices and expanded data capabilities at their fingertips, advertisers can explore more personalized and dynamic ways to reach their audience, whether it's through custom creative, sequential message storytelling or even more innovative solutions" says Les Hollander, global head of audio monetization at Spotify. It's now possible to target ads based on everything from music genre to listener gender to location. Companies can even take a contextual approach, with Canada Dry targeting their "relaxing harder" campaign to those listening to Spotify's "chill" playlist.
The real game-changer comes in the form of voice-controlled smart speakers in home and cars. The growth of voice assistants has allowed more and more people are able to buy products and services without interrupting their listening experience. "Brands have spent billions of dollars on building their visual identities to stand out from the crowd – visual packaging, recognisable brand logos or retail shelf space – but in a world where the use of voice assistants is rapidly growing, voice commerce is expected to grow from a $2 billion industry today to a $40 billion industry in 2022" says Tiffany Ray, managing director of digital strategy at Mindshare North America. "Brands and marketers need to start preparing for a new world order around voice and audio engagement—you need to invest in your audio identity the way you would your visual identity." And with companies such as Spotify and Pandora constantly making bold acquisitions in the world of ad-tech, gone are the days marketers put out the same generic audio ad.
How far can technology take audio advertising? While the answer to that may be blowing in the wind, one thing's for sure – we're entering a new world of marketing, and audio is king.