Video Validates The Audio Star

Audio-based media has grown tremendously over the past decade as content and technology – streaming, podcasting, smartphones, smart speakers, etc. – have created renewed interest in the power of sound.  Yet, audio still gets a disproportionately low percentage of ad spend compared to usage.

July 1st 1941. The Brooklyn Dodgers are at Ebbets Field playing the Philadelphia Phillies.  What was special wasn’t what happened on the field but rather what happened on the air.  NBC’s WNBT – today WNBC-TV – broadcast this game and placed what is said to be the first ever TV commercial.  It was an ad for Bulova watches.

We all know what happened from there. TV quickly grew to become the dominant advertising medium across the globe. It was here that Radio began its battle to demonstrate the value of the audio-only medium. It did so quite successfully, posting year over year revenue growth for all but a few years since 1941.

How Youtube validates the power of digital audio

It’s fascinating then to “see” the world’s largest provider of video content helping to validate audio and the power of sound.

If you’re not aware, Google-owned YouTube recently announced a new “ad product” – audio advertising!  As TechCrunch explains, these ads are designed to help marketers reach YouTube visitors who are doing more listening than watching.

That seems counter-intuitive when viewing would seem to be the primary consumption method of a video channel.  TechCrunch notes these audio ads are designed for videos where audience members may only be glancing at the screen occasionally, or might be ignoring the visuals altogether.  While this may be concerning to advertisers investing in reaching eyeballs, the point that jumps out here relates more to the value of audio itself.

Audio : the “ultimate companion medium”

Audio is the only medium whose content can be consumed while doing virtually anything else.  I’ve been making this point to anyone who would listen for the past 30+ years!  Try driving a car and watching videos. Try riding, going for a run and reading an article. Actually don’t. You get the point.  Audio is the ultimate companion medium, and here is Google/YouTube validating both this point and the value.

In a company blog post, Google explains audio ads are characterized by creatives where the audio soundtrack plays the starring role in delivering your message. The visual component is typically a still image or simple animation. This means consumers are doing something other than viewing but are still listening!  Riding a bike. Working around the house or the office. Cooking. Cleaning. Or, as Google describes, squeeze in a living room workout before dinner, catch up on a podcast or listen to a virtual concert on a Friday night.

Consumers are doing all these things and more while also listening to audio driven platforms – radio, streaming, podcasts, audio articles and books.  The problem is creative is not always designed specifically for audio.  We have seen how successful podcast ads are because they “speak to the listening consumer”.  Google helps validate this point, noting, when you’re preparing your audio ads campaign, keep in mind that audio should play the leading role. Think: If I close my eyes, I can still clearly understand what this ad is about.  The historic radio positioning points jump off the page – theater of the mind and image transfer.

“Over half of all daily listening (53%) is digital, taking the lead over traditional AM/FM for the first time ever.”
(Pandora Definitive Audio Guide, 2021)

Digital Audio & Brand awareness

And to prove the ROI on the right creative with a companion medium – more than 75 percent of measured audio ad campaigns on YouTube drove a significant lift in brand awareness. That’s a stat that radio and streaming providers have demonstrated previously in research done to support the value of audio and the power of sound.

If an advertiser is using video, this all proves that audio can extend the value, reach and frequency of that campaign.  Further, the many different contexts in how, where and when people consume audio content, is also enhancing the underlying value the medium has always provided.

Oh, and in case you care, the Dodgers fell to the Phillies that July afternoon 6-4.  Dem bumbs!

Dominick Milano

About Dominick Milano

Dominick Milano is the SVP of Sales and Business Development for Targetspot in North America.   A self-professed radio/audio geek, Milano has spent his entire career in the industry holding senior level positions at Katz Media, Clear Channel, Interep and Triton Digital.  He can be reached at [email protected]

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