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Audio is booming - how can brands add it to the mix?


By Hannah Bowler | Senior Reporter

August 2, 2023 | 6 min read

Global digital audio ad spend increased by a staggering 57.9% in 2021 and 20% in 2022 with further growth expected in 2023, according to the IAB. With cash flooding into the sector, brands are now fighting for ears not just eyes - we look at the biggest audio trends.

Why audio is worth adding to your marketing mix

Why audio is worth adding to your marketing mix / Pexels

In recent years, we've seen the emergence of voice tech, podcasts achieving mass scale, and the arrival of audio branding.

Audio advertising has been particularly strong when reaching millennial and Gen Z demos as audio is often seen as a go-to self-care resource with 83% of millennials claiming to use audio to reduce their stress levels, and 77% see audio as a mental health resource.

Investment in audio from brands has led to a professionalization of the ecosystem with audio adtech now providing automation, cross-channel measurement, and attribution as well as personalized creative content and brand safety. All this means audio is a much richer marketing investment than before, but how should marketers be crafting their audio strategies?


Global GWI data has found in 2023 more than one in five working-age internet users (21.2%) listen to podcasts each week, spending an average of one hour and two minutes per day listening to podcasts.

The intimate nature of podcasts makes them an ideal medium for advertisers to connect with engaged listeners. Listeners aren’t playing podcasts in the background they are highly engaged with the content. According to Spotify, 54% of podcast fans say they’re more likely to consider buying from a brand they hear advertised on podcasts and 81% have taken action after hearing an ad.

  • Don’t just choose a podcast because it’s popular - Think about the podcasts and podcast categories that might align best with your target audience.

  • Choose a suitable format – Host-read adverts can often be more entertaining or more trusted but traditional audio ads are easier to produce and can be used in multiple podcasts.

Music streaming

The typical internet user now spends one hour and 38 minutes per day listening to music streaming services like Spotify, which is just 13 minutes less than the time they spend watching “conventional” TV (i.e. broadcast and cable channels), according to GWI data.

The global daily average has increased by five minutes per day (+5.4%) over the past twelve months, and the typical user now spends the equivalent of 36 waking days each year listening to streaming music.

  • Keep ads short and simple – The ad will interrupt the playlist flow meaning it should be quick and straight to the point.

  • Personalize ads for your audience – Music streaming platforms use algorithms to personalize so brands can target based on demographics, music taste and location.

  • Buy direct from the streamer - Platforms such as Spotify may get you premium placement and free production.

Smart speakers

According to Neuro-Insight branded smart speaker ads trigger a 25% increase in overall brain activity when compared to branding in standard audio ads. The neuromarketing researcher also found that engaging in a conversation with an ad via a voice assistant makes branding moments 11% more memorable.

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  • Creating engaging and useful voice experiences - You can do this by developing voice apps or skills that provide value-added features, such as tips, tutorials, quizzes, or games.

  • Ensure ads aren’t intrusive – Consumers are already wary about smart speakers being intrusive so try keep traditional ads short and sweet.


GWI’s data also reveals that almost one in five of the world’s internet users also listen to audiobooks each week. The audiobook market is largely ad-free with the likes of Amazon, Audible and Spotify currently running their operations through subscriptions.

But ads in audiobooks could become more mainstream after Marketing Brew revealed Audible has been “conducting limited testing” of ads in audiobooks. Watch this space.

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