Three-quarters of advertisers plan to increase ad spend in podcasts this year according to a study from Global-owned digital audio advertising platform DAX.
Its ‘The Rise of Digital Audio Advertising’ surveyed 215 manager-level media and ad agency figures between March and April 2019, supplemented with in-depth interviews with 11 directors, to map perceptions of the media channel.
It found that a majority (85%) of respondents will increase spend in digital audio in the coming year.
Three quarters will up spend in podcasts specifically baited by the 7.6 million weekly listeners in the UK, up by a quarter in just a year.
Oliver Deane, director of commercial digital at Global, said the current growth is due to a proliferation of high-quality content in the space. Spotify, for example, is on a podcast acquisition spree in the space while publishers ranging from Bauer and Vogue to Empire have all significantly invested rescource in the medium.
“The belief among the advertisers is that podcasts offer a very engaging environment and there is an opportunity to take a trusted voice in the presenter and have them talk about your brand in a credible way," said Deane.
Podcasts have also opened up new audiences to advertisers. The Midas Digital Audio Survey, Spring 2019 found that more than half of podcast listeners (4.5m) do not stream music.
Global itself has made a resounding push into podcasting, signing a deal with ITV recently to piggyback Love Island with an official podcast.
Agency perceptions are changing
86% of advertising agencies and 66% of brand advertisers see digital audio as a “key part” of their integrated media strategies.
Deane believes this discrepancy is due to agencies being more likely to work in radio creative across multiple brands. He admitted that many responded at first: “What the hell is [digital audio]?", sending Global on an extensive education drive to show why the digital audio media channel that “should be taken seriously."
"There are big audiences and it is a good place for ads," he said.
On why spend is increasing, 81% of the report's respondents said they were attracted to digital audio because of the contextual relevance it offers. A further 85% think it can reach consumers on the go and 79% believe it can reach in many different situations. 73% believe it can reach audiences of all ages and 78% think that listeners are highly engaged.
By device, 75% of digital audio is still consumed on PCs and smartphones. However, with 17% now being consumed now on smart speakers a new new creative opportunity is emerging for advertisers – with caveats.
“Advertisers are excited by the fact they can serve digital ads on these devices in these moments and doing different creative things on them," said Deane.
However smart speaker ad inventory differs greatly to standard digital inventory.
"Streamed audio ads delivered to a mobile device behave very much like video ads. But you can’t put a pixel on a smart speaker ad. It doesn’t have cookies either. Targeting is by content type. There are currently limitations.”
The format does add new consumer situations in which brands can talk to audiences. It also affords new creative, interactive pathways. “It is all about the context, are you looking to influence someone when they're cooking or when they are on their commute?”
Most smart speakers are labelled by room. An active smart speaker in a kitchen at 7pm is likely rolling while a listener is cooking, affording brands keen to act in that space - or talk to someone in that mindset.
“Smart speakers can actually deliver really contextual, relevant audio ads into people's living rooms or kitchens when they're preparing their dinner, getting their children ready for school or just chilling out a home where they don't want to look at a screen," continued Deane.
Some brands shy away from the lack of feedback in the smart speaker environment. Others get on with it. “Some know ‘this inventory operates differently’. Their audiences are listening to this content on these devices and they have to be there.”
To measure the success of the placements, they are more likely to look at brand uplift and delivery data.
The creative demands of brands in audio are changing too.
Deane claims that less ask Dax’s in-house team for a 30-second audio spot; they are increasingly consulting on “how their brand sounds, the sonic logos, the voices they should use, how they produce and what music to include.”
Global, now a major stakeholder in the out of home advertising industry, is also set to benefit from the fact digital audio can complement other channels. More than 40% of their advertising campaigns in the past 12 months had included digital audio – up from 33% in the 2018 study
Dax has 83 members of staff but plans to hire an additional 20 as it prepares for the business to grow by 40% just this year. But it has to face the challenges the medium offers. The lack of awareness around measurement and attribution is one, as marketers strive for greater transparency in their operations.