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ANA’s Message To Advertisers: ‘Audio Is A Powerhouse Medium.’

There is more attention being paid to audio among national brands than anytime during the past several decades. But converting that interest into dollars is what matters most to broadcasters. If media buyers follow the client’s lead, the message from the brands may change if they heed the advice of the Association of National Advertisers. During a virtual summit Tuesday, Senior VP of Media Mark Stewart told advertisers that audio is a great way to fill gaps in a marketing plan, especially when it comes to reaching new customers.

“When audio’s major platforms are combined – over-the-air, digital streaming, satellite and podcasting – audio is a powerhouse medium like no other,” Stewart said. “Audio is resilient and scaled over-the-air reaches more people per week than any other medium including ad-supported linear TV and video. Audio is effective, and it drives product sales and brand growth. The reason is because it reaches those consumers and prospects underserved by video platforms.”

According to a 2021 study from WARC, consumers in the U.S spend 31% of their total daily time with media listening to audio. But it is the impact of that listening that will get the attention of national advertisers. The ANA points to a study last year done by Nielsen and the biggest advertiser of them all, Procter & Gamble, which showed that 15 brands which added audio advertising to their marketing mix increased monthly reach on average by 36%. Separately, dozens of sales lift studies across 14 different product categories also conducted by Nielsen reveal that audio delivers a better than five-to-one return on investment for every dollar CPG brands spend on advertising ($5.06 ROAS) and an even higher return for retail advertisers that got a better than 14-to-one return for every ad dollars spent ($14.74 ROAS).

Brands ‘Under Invested’ In Audio

Radio and audio may be the “OGs of advertising,” as Audacy CMO Paul Suchman put it. But he told brand managers that their view of radio and audio overall may need an update.

“While other media continue to be disrupted and fragmented, audio is evolving and bringing its unique superpowers forward, finding new channels for growth, new listeners to connect with and new creators to make amazing, amazing content,” said Suchman. “That said, most brands remain under invested in audio and we as an industry need to help them harness the power of audio. We need to be champions for the audio, and we need to be champions for the brands that we steward.”

Armed with neuroscience showing how audio connects with consumers’ brains resulting in significant engagement, he made the case that there is good reason why “audio is scorching hot” in ad circles. “It's been proven through neuroscience that audio makes people feel really good, and creates environments in which advertisers can insert themselves,” Suchman explained.

Beyond the science, he also said math is working in audio’s favor as buying is becoming more precise as listening is now done to both AM/FM and digital media. That allows advertisers to target consumers with more precision than ever before.

“We can now build cohorts based on their over-the-air, digital audio, and podcasts consumption and reach them in high impact moments at scale with unprecedented accuracy,” Suchman said. “And that is changing the value proposition for audio.”

But even as some things change, broadcasters also told marketers Tuesday that there are decades-old advantages worth embracing. That includes its focus on local communities and its theater of the mind qualities. It also has traditionally been cheaper to buy than television, resulting in higher return on investment scores.

“We all know we're facing tightening ad budgets, strong economic headwinds, competing priorities,” Suchman told advertisers. “And we all have to be really smart about where we put our marketing dollars.”

The ANA’s Audio Summit itself was noteworthy since it marked the first time in recent memory that the trade group for national advertisers focused on audio.

“It's about time, ANA,” iHeartMedia CMO Gayle Troberman chided during a session with State Farm. “Audio has always been an important channel for marketers, but I do think recently there's been a real resurgence and wakeup call about the potential of audio.”

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