The SMB Opportunity to Tap Into Digital Audio

Happy Girl listening to audio

Low awareness usually indicates a sales or marketing issue, depending on what exactly it is that has low awareness. However, in the case of why local advertisers aren’t buying more digital audio, low awareness is due more to an execution issue rather than sales or marketing.

Borrell and Associates recently conducted research, a summary of which was published by Inside Radio, highlighting a legitimate issue for SMBs.  That being the perceived inability to tap into skyrocketing interest in digital audio.  According to Inside Radio,nearly four in ten local advertisers (38%) say they advertised on local radio in the past 12 months, more than double the portion that bought streaming audio ads (15%) and thirteen-times the number that purchased podcast advertising (3%).”   Yes, low awareness, but why? Take a quick step back for context.

Lack of Scale and Scarcity

Before digital audio, there was both scale and scarcity.  A significant amount of audience available in local geographies was driven by a finite number of radio signals.  This remains true within the boundaries of AM/FM.  However, listening obviously now extends beyond these boundaries. There are thousands of content channels, be they streams or podcasts, consumers listen to in their local markets. That not only removes the notion of scarcity but also scale. The Infinite Dial has fragmented listening to individual content channels or shows to the point that it is very difficult for local channels to drive local digital audio scale.

According to Inside Radio, “one glaring reason why advertisers have lower awareness levels for how to buy digital audio is that a majority of panelists (62%) say they haven’t been pitched on digital audio/podcast advertising.”  Borrell Associates VP of Research Corey Elliott adds “ they aren’t buying it because they don’t know about it. No one is talking to them.” Well, yes, this is all true.  However, with the context above it is easy to understand why.  They just don’t have enough digital audio supply to provide interest to a local SMB, let alone the “much better targeting capabilities” noted by panelists in the study.

This does point to a need for local radio to drive more locally-driven digital audio content options – and thus supply.  That though is a separate discussion. The point here is that Digital Audio is today very much a viable opportunity for SMBs in local markets. It is just a very different process. Many of these businesses are buying local digital ads in other media, and in most instances, they buy local audiences rather than brands.  With fragmentation in media consumption, it takes aggregation and then segmentation to identify and qualify the desired audience in any given local geography.

A Problem with a Solution

I wish the Borrell study had been a coordinated marketing effort with Targetspot, but I’m just not that clever. The fact though is that we recently launched the beta version of Passport Audio Manager, a self-service platform designed to address much of what is noted in the study.

This platform allows local businesses to benefit from the tech, aggregated scale, and audience segments we provide for our national campaign partners.  In fact, the Borrell survey notes that “local businesses see streaming audio/podcast ads as offering much better-targeting capabilities” and “more accurate reporting metrics”. With Passport Audio Manager, this is not a perception but rather a reality.  A simple and intuitive interface allows a local advertiser to enter their parameters, forecast available impressions, upload creative, and then book a campaign.  We can even provide AI voice reads for any script that a local business creates.

The value of digital audio is no different locally than it is broadly.  There is just a different path to getting there.   If you are interested in learning more about Passport Audio Manager and tapping into the power of sound, please feel to reach out to me.

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