Avenue C’s Daniel Cutrone: Creative Agencies Are “Missing A Massive Trick” With Audio

Avenue C’s Daniel Cutrone: Creative Agencies Are “Missing A Massive Trick” With Audio

Daniel Cutrone, managing partner of Avenue C, has said that creative agencies are letting their clients down by not paying enough attention to audio assets in campaigns’ creative mix.

Lead image L-R: IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy; Lucy Formosa Morgan, managing director, MAGNA Global; Daniel Cutrone, managing partner, Avenue C; Ashley Wong, head of digital, data and innovation, Foundation Australia.

Cutrone was speaking at the IAB Australia Audio Summit in Sydney yesterday afternoon on a panel with fellow media buyers discussing how agencies can get the greatest return on investments in audio channels.

“We’re definitely behind when we start to think about creatives and a lot of the networks and independent audio production houses are really benefitting at the moment — they’re the ones building the assets.

“Creative agencies are missing a massive trick around building audio assets first for clients. It always becomes an afterthought. A lot of the time when we’re pulling together plans and putting together recommendations around channels, creative agencies — and this makes sense given the production budgets in the area — are putting video assets first.”

His fellow panellist Ashley Wong head of digital, data and innovation at Foundation Australia, added that while creative agencies weren’t losing money on their lack of audio effort — “they’re definitely still making a pretty penny” — they need to be “educated and brought on the journey.”

The Audio Summit coincided with the release of the IAB’s The Crime Pays and Audio State of the Nation reports that looked at the opportunity around audio advertising — particularly in relation to true crime podcasts.

The State of the Nation report found that more than three-fifths of agencies plan to increase their investment in streaming and podcasts over the next year. It also revealed that brand building, rather than bottom of funnel direct response campaigns, was proving the most popular campaign execuction. It also praised audio for its ability to grow incremental reach and the possibility of forensic audience targeting.

“Last year, we did see some shifts in our client budgets. Obviously some decreased but at the same time, our digital audio investment did increase,” said Wong.

“We’ve worked with quite a few partners in this space with clients like Diageo and HSBC that do a lot more work in the contextual audience targeting post-read integration space. Then some of our other clients, such as Mercedes-Benz, they do more of an audio extension to radio and more in the retail space. Where they have traditional radio running, they can add digital audio on top to increase reach.”

Meanwhile, Lucy Formosa Morgan, managing director of IPG’s MAGNA Global, said that she had noticed a definite change in the way that media buyers approach audio.

“Several years ago, if you turned to any of the planners about digital audio, they would just say ‘Spotify,'” she told the crowd.

“Over the last 12 to 18 months, that supply has broaded, obviously with Acast here and the other players. So I think having more supply and opportunities for us is making people broaden where they spend the cast.”

Cutrone even said that Avenue C’s investment in audio had “tripled” over the last three years.

“I was initially looking at how we can build incremental reach to our existing linear campaigns. But more recently, we’ve started to explore deeper partnerships with podcasts and networks, looking at how we can do things that go much deeper, whether in streaming or podcasting, and how we can build some of our brands within the space and create deeper engagement with those audices,” he explained.

Ralph van Dijk, founder of Eardrum and Andy Maxwell, co-founder of Earmax Media, also highlighted the importance of effective creative within audio, showing off work for Hendrick’s Gin.

“You can see from its Out-of-Home that it has very distinctive visual language,” said van Dijk.

“It’s almost a sort of Jules Verne, Great Gatsby style. But sadly there were no audio brand codes for us to utilise. We looked at the tone of the brand and Hendrick’s has a whimsical tone of voice and very engaging way of talking — poectic and slightly old-fashioned .”

Maxwell described that they identified the Shameless podcast, hosted by Melbourne journalists Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews, as the perfect vehicle to spread the Hendricks brand.

“It’s a podcast about pop culture, for smart people who like dumb things — their words not ours,” said Maxwell.

The podcast’s audience overlapped with Hendricks target, something that could be identified by looking at the hosts’ own Instagram profiles. This ability to micro-target users based on the distinct attributes of the podcast and its hosts, the pair said, could have huge benefits for campaign reach and effectiveness.

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