Social Throwback 2021: Audio Marketing trends – a playlist for everyone

Audio Marketing Trends

Shashwat Goswami, Head of Marketing, Gaana speaks about how audio OTT gives brands an opportunity to reach consumers when they do not have access to video. Goswami gives a view of Audio Marketing Trends in 2021.

In 2021, Indian’s spent 2,290 billion minutes consuming online entertainment. This means that the user base is evolving at godspeed and will not just represent Gen Z and millennials, but also include the influx of millions of users across age groups and geographies.

During the lockdown caused by the second wave of the pandemic, audio streaming platforms witnessed an expansion of their user base. They explored new formats of audio, personalised recommendations, offered more nuanced regional content, and collaborated with artists for live sessions. These initiatives, coupled with the digital transformation will continue to drive the growth of digital audio and make India one of the five largest markets in the world for audio OTT, in coming years. 

The impressive growth of digital audio has attracted numerous advertisers to the medium. Hence, with the growth in subscriber base, digital audio platforms are also witnessing a rise in advertising revenue. They are offering a plethora of avenues to brands looking for new ways to reach consumers.

Marketing for audio platforms that include music streaming services, AM/FM simulations, and on-demand audio content is strategically different from other mediums. This year, we witnessed brands using a variety of ways to enhance their brand awareness through digital audio platforms. Below are some trends that became more dominant this year:

Shorter Ads & 360-degree Formats Performed Better

The ‘5-second ads’ are the present and future of audio OTT advertising. They are micro ads most suitable for individuals of today with an attention span that has dropped to 7 seconds. 

Micro audio ads perform better with most audiences listening to OTT content on their smartphones when they are on the go. Millennials, especially, having grown up with smartphones are accustomed to short-form content and respond best to these short ads. These ads have relevant information and do not come off as intrusive.

Advertisers target specific audiences based on age, gender, location, weather, and even music preference for the micro ads. They seem to be the future of advertising in terms of price, frequency, and return on investment.

Another trend observed in ads is that multi-screen formats or 360 campaigns are becoming more commonplace. These are designed to work across multiple screens at the same time e.g. TV- Digital. The recent examples of such ads are the award-winning #VolvoContest (every time you see a competitor and you tweet Volvo to win a prize ) and the lauded Burger King (started their commercial with a voice activation catchphrase like “ok google” & took all voice devices in America to their website). These ads move audiences into action by engaging the consumer multiple times, in different incremental screens. We will see more such marketing strategies employed in the future.

Platforms like Gaana have also come up with interactive audio ads/voice-activated ads that can engage with users via voice commands that ask for specific actions. Such ads empower listeners of audio ads to talk back to the ad and tell if they are interested in the offer or not. Many TV ads can be brilliantly amplified on the second screen (mobile) in a similar fashion. 

Also Read: Social Throwback 2021: A year of content democratization & encouraging purchase intent for Pinterest

Spends on Audio Marketing Increase

It was observed that big brands invested around 10% of their ad spend on audio platforms including radio and music streaming apps. This is still under indexed to the actual 30-40% time of an individual’s day spent driving, studying, working, and exercising, with no access to video.

Brands are slowly waking up to this reality and putting more money into audio, in an attempt to reach consumers in these less cluttered parts of the day. The proof of this is that most brand managers these days are asked to put together a “surround or 360-degree” campaign rather than a single TV medium campaign. Another softer cue of the increasing importance of Audio is that TV ads of most brands e.g. PayTM, Gaana, Britannia, etc. use audio mnemonics to aid recall. This means marketers are awake to taking into account that people can be on the move and may not be able to look at the screen all the time and audio here helps drive brand awareness. The marketing dollars should not go to waste, just because someone could not look at the screen during the ad. As this realization is already around marketing circles, it’s only a matter of time before the 1st point sees correction.

Most Audio streaming platforms are offering brands the ability to reach a segmented target audience on occasions where video consumption is not possible (and it’s possible to monitor who is listening to the ad)) – brands can be sure that audio ad impressions are reaching the right audience, at the right time, with the right message.

Increase in the Use of Technology & Personalisation

Digital audio meets consumers where they are—at the gym, workplace, on commutes, and at home. Audio streaming reaches the consumers when they are not looking at their devices but still listening to content, with powerful audio-only ads.

Consumers belong to different demographics, languages, cities and have different tastes in music. Each listener also has specific preferences in terms of languages, genres, artists, etc. Therefore, personalisation and recommendations are of utmost importance to OTT platforms. Advertisers are effectively harnessing engaging ads to connect with diverse audiences.

With regional language consumption increasing, brands are also looking at advertising in languages like Tamil, Telugu, Haryanvi, Bhojpuri, and Punjabi

These trends have set the ground on which newer trends will emerge in 2022. Brands across industries will continue their quest for – personalisation and trying to reach the consumer in incremental life occasions With content apps learning and evolving with the evolving preferences and music patterns, brands get an opportunity to market their products to the right consumers at a time when no one else can (while listening to music in the toilet/shower/car/gym for example!). This gives brands in-home care, automobiles, personal care the ability to reach audiences in a space that is not yet oversaturated by competitors. Often it also allows them to get creative and deliver messages that might not be possible in the traditional mediums of TV, radio and print.

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The article is authored by Shashwat Goswami, Head of Marketing, Gaana as a part of Social Samosa’s Social Throwback 2021 series.