This year’s IAB State of the Nation Audio Summit was the first in-person event held by the group since the 2020 summit. Held in the Australian Institute of Music, themes included the changing role of audio in the minds of advertisers.
The core focus of the event was the IAB’s Audio Advertising State of The Nation Report Wave Five, presented by IAB CEO Gai Le Roy. The data in the report was conducted by Hoop Research Group.
Le Roy reflected on bumps to the audio industry in 2019, and the focus in early 2020 on experimentation which, she acknowledged, “didn’t always come through.”
The major findings of the report were that the audio streaming sector benefited by making its inventory available through programmatic channels.
As Le Roy said, there is “no surprise that programmatic is increasing”, as agencies embraced programmatic during 2020 to secure control over their investments.
Brand awareness, she said, “has been number one” in linear radio, and is now evident across all audio channels, such as podcasts. As outlined in the report, building this brand awareness was again the primary objective for media agencies using streaming digital audio and podcast advertising, at 82 per cent and 73 per cent respectively.
Creative was “the area with the most potential” though she reflected that a “little more encouragement was needed to try new things.”
One of the other central concerns regarding creative was a lack of tailoring to the audio environment – particularly, Le Roy said, “still too little development of fit-for-purpose creative.” According to the report, one-third of agencies were still not tailoring creative to suit different audio environments when running they ran campaigns across different broadcast and digital audio advertising platforms.
The specific opportunities of the podcast industry were a key focus of the event.
Fellow speaker Liam Daly from Acast described on work Acast had done with a tech company. This company, he said, “knew their audience [was] there” in the podcast world. He highlighted the fact that there are “intimate relationships that podcasters have with an audience” and that, because podcast listening is a solo activity, it also means consumers are listening with “unrivalled engagement”.
The State of the Nation report found that 36 per cent of media agencies said podcast advertising was a significant or regular part of their activity. For the first time, the report also broke down the top seven genres of podcasts identified by agencies for audio investment.
At the top of the list was news, described in the study as a “safe brand environment”.
Ultimately Le Roy reflected that there was still important room for growth in the audio industry.
“Owning a particular sound, as you would a visual image, is very effective.”
Other speakers included Jo-Ann Foo, Director at Analytic Partners. She analysed the idea of ‘Bothism’, as popularised by Mark Ritson, where advertising requires combining strategies like offline and online or long term and short term to make the greatest impact.
Foo said that, in practice, things were more complex.
“Digital returns are amplified if you also use a broad reach mechanism.”
She presented the case that “the idea that there is a magic 60:40 ratio that you can apply to your investment” doesn’t work. Instead, she argued, sometimes you need to invest more in short term to drive sales.
Digital audio and radio in particular “have a role in driving your short-term sales.” According to Analytic Partners’ research, context is everything here because radio can hold higher levels of investment and drive price promotions.
From Spotify, Matt Bryant outlined the successes of last year’s PowerBall Power Ballad Spotify campaign. To being, he outlined why Spotify was so beneficial for advertisers.
It was “not the truth” that most Spotify users pay for the ad-free version. In fact, “overwhelmingly people do not pay fr Spotify, or for music.”
As a result, there were “a number of really significant advantages to digital audio…and that is largely because of data.”
The PowerBall campaign, he explained, was a great example of this because it focused on drawing an audience of 18 – 24 year olds towards an industry that often skews older. Spotify’s data showed that nostalgia was a powerful tool. In that age bracket, a significant proportion of listening was to back categories of music rather than new releases.
This lead to the idea of allowing users to nominate their favourite power ballad, and then vote. The winning song would be re-recorded by Brisbane band DZ Deathrays.
The promotion of the event worked because of, as Bryant phrased it, a “fruit salad” approach. Spotify could advertise the Power Ball Power Ballad campaign through audio, video and display, even though their product is primarily a sound-only environment.
Ultimately, the campaign made 15,000,000 impressions, and had 75,000 clicks which were highest among their target demo of 18-24 year olds.
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