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Digital Audio Advertising, The Debutante Ball You Don't Want to Miss

Digital Audio Advertising, The Debutante Ball You Don't Want to Miss Rockie Thomas
Hi, my name is Rockie Thomas and I’m a triple A - audio advertising addict.  I was first introduced to audio advertising after college and became addicted.  I sold traditional radio, but I wanted more...better tracking, more accountability and transparency.  So in 1998, I set out on my quest, I went to work for an internet radio/ad insertion startup during the late 90’s dotcom boom and made Silicon Valley my Woodstock.

Like Woodstock, it was a hell of party with an epic hangover; one that unfortunately for digital audio advertising lasted over 10 years.   Persistence and patience has paid off we are finally seeing the perfect ad storm forming:  Digital audio critical mass and distribution (thank you, mobile!), ad technology on par with present digital advertising abilities and increasing demand from advertisers.

What makes Digital Audio Special in a Media Cluttered World?

We live in an attention deprived world.  Since most digital media is consumed visually, it’s literally a fight for eyeballs.  How do brands fight through the visual clutter?  By going beyond the eyes and through the ears with digital audio advertising.

It’s interesting the audio buy side has been slow to come to the digital audio party.   Buyers know the power of audio advertising, they’ve been spending millions for decades in traditional radio, but until recently digital audio advertising has been stuck in an awkward tweener phase.  I’m here to tell you, we are ready to be seated at the adult table; our Debutante Ball is finally here.

Why Buy Digital Audio:

1) The Digital Audio Space has Hit Critical Mass. People consume digital audio a lot…more than you think.  Recent research from Alan Burns and Associates show 25% of those surveyed stream music on a smartphone daily; weekly usage grows to almost 40%.   When your mother knows about internet radio, it’s hit mainstream.  With the proliferation of smart phones and connected dashboards you can take your music everywhere you go.  Long gone is the one radio broadcasting to a whole office and now we have individuals listening to their particular station or streaming music.  We now have enough tonnage to deliver targeted relevant advertising with the reach digital buyers demand.

2) Digital Radio Shares Terrestrial Radio Strengths. The strengths of traditional radio hold true with digital audio.  People are able to consume it while doing other things. While this may seem like a mark against audio; it’s actually its strength.  Think about your workout this morning, your commute, your workspace, your day in general…how often did you use digital audio in some form?  This ‘constant’ consumption helps increase ad effectiveness.  Recent research from TargetSpot and Parks Associates show both ad recall and response have increased 11% since 2011 to 58% with digital audio advertising.

3) Digital Audio Advertising Works and Now We Can Prove It. What digital audio advertising brings is targeting and tracking.  It’s what I call a “Hannah Montana”…the best of both worlds, the best of two great mediums.  Digital audio advertising possesses the strength of audio advertising with the targeting and tracking of digital.  New technology from companies like AdsWizz (full disclosure: I work for AdsWizz) offer 3rd party audio ad tracking and engagement metrics.  There is no longer a need to use a companion banner for no other reason than audio ad tracking and reporting.

4) Smartphones/Tablets are the Transistor Radio of our Time. Research from comScore finds 27% of mobile subscribers have listened to music on their mobile devices.  We no longer need to clutter up the mobile screen with companion banners, pure digital audio advertising is clean and effective. Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman summed up the synergy on audio and mobile best when he said, “There’s probably no product category that fits mobile on a content basis better than radio because the screen’s very little, it goes dark as soon as you turn your head, but it continues to give me audio so I think we’re tailor made for it.”

5) In-Car Media Usage…The Radio Holy Grail. Digital audio will become more mainstream with 100 million vehicles having some form of smartphone integration by 2016 (Jupiter Research).  Today, nearly one-in-five (17%) people say they’ve plugged their smartphone into the dashboard to hear streaming audio, up by 55% compared to a year ago according to Arbitron-Edison Research data.  The car is no longer owned by terrestrial broadcasters.  Consumer electronics manufacturers are pushing hard in this space as well as mobile carriers.  We are already starting to see data plans from Verizon allowing consumers to “Share Everything” within their data package.  The car will just become another device.  Digital audio advertising gives you targeted access to this sacred space with definitive ad delivery reporting.

6) Hyper- Targeting Users Across Devices –Digital audio campaigns can follow listeners as they traverse devices.  A user may use Tune-In or WinAmp on a tablet, mobile phone AND their PC in one day.  The ability to follow this user across devices allows for better engagement and frequency, and more efficient buys.

7) Buying Digital Audio.  Digital audio buys are similar to video and graphical; they are CPM based with LTR (Listen through Rates) metrics and post engagement tracking.   Audio creative tends to be shorter with: 30 and: 15 ads.  As with most digital creative, brevity is key, especially when targeting pre-roll audio.  Smart advertisers understand the power of combining the reach and engagement of radio with the accountability and effectiveness of digital. This effectiveness also reduces the need for large volume of ads and the result is a lighter spot load on internet radio streams.

Standards are emerging, marketplaces are solidifying and the audience reach is here.  If you are looking for a way to buy into many different publishers with one provider TargetSpot, Katz360, AdLarge and Dial Global are all great companies that will help your brand get involved in this growing and effective space.

Rockie Thomas has a fierce passion for internet radio and media technology. She has worked with digital broadcast companies Sonicbox, iM Networks, XACT Radio, Spacial Audio and Bid4Spots, as well as traditional broadcast companies Chancellor...

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