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Dentsu’s Diana Anderson: ‘Audio Is Untapped Opportunity.’

“Audio advertising deserves your attention.” That was the message to ad buyers from dentsu’s Diana Anderson during a “State of Audio Advertising” presentation last week.

Anderson provided an update on the expanding universe of audio, the opportunities it presents advertisers to reach an engaged and attentive audience, along with some of the medium’s challenges and emerging trends.

“Audio is an untapped opportunity for many advertisers,” she said during “Crack The Code: Audio’s Next Play,” a virtual conference presented by Adweek. “Daily time spent with audio continues to increase.” Americans spend more than four hours a day with audio when taking the entire audio universe into account. Narrowing in on radio and digital audio, it’s two hours and 43 minutes, according to Edison Research Share of Ear and eMarketer. “That's more time than is being spent in social, gaming, and even subscription OTT services,” Anderson pointed out.

But ad spend doesn’t mirror audio consumption – not even close. “If consumers spend about 22% of their media time with radio and digital audio, audio only accounts for about 5% of the media spend,” she explained. “There's a disconnect there.”

Anderson, who serves as Senior VP, Group Director, National Audio and Local Digital Activation at Carat USA, part of the dentsu media agency network, made a case for why brands and agencies should consider audio and its benefits. “Terrestrial audio is being left behind in some respects, but it is still so strong,” she continued, pointing to its superior reach: 84% among adults 18+, 85% with adults 25-54, 82% for adults 18-49 and 78% with adults 18-34. “It provides a great opportunity for advertisers to reach a mass audience to complement their very targeted digital schedule. And it's very efficient,” Anderson suggested. Broadcast radio provides “great incremental reach” when added to a TV and digital schedule.

While AM/FM supplies big reach, digital audio and podcasting enable very specific targeting. The pandemic accelerated the migration to digital audio – its weekly reach among Americans 18+ now sits at 69%. That includes the online streams of broadcast radio. “From 2019, there was a huge increase in digital audio consumption and a lot of that went to streaming,” Anderson told the Adweek audience. “People had to find new ways to listen to their favorite AM/FM radio stations and they switched to streaming.” Podcasting’s reach meanwhile hit 31% in 2023, up 41% since 2019.

Anderson briefly touched on new trends in the audio industry, including AI which is being used for interactive voice-activated ads, for better targeting capabilities and for customized host read ads. “There's a lot of interesting opportunities, it will enhance programmatic buying and targeting,” she said.

Other emerging trends advertisers are eyeing include:

  • Airing audio ads in non-native environments, such as mobile gaming and CTV

  • Using AI to convert articles to audio and inserting ads

  • Audio in the metaverse

  • 3D audio

  • Sonic branding

  • Video podcasting

Measurement tops the challenges the industry is facing, Anderson said. “Radio can't be measured the same way digital can be.” Which begs the question: Is it audio that’s not effective? Or is the measurement not right for the channel?

Anderson and dentsu have been advocating for attention metrics as a better measurement than whether an ad was seen or heard. The agency network recently showed how the attention consumers give audio ads stacks up to other media channels as part of the Attention Economy Project. Audio wasn’t included in the project until this year when dentsu and Lumen Research worked with some of the nation’s largest audio companies to expand its attention metric to include radio, podcasting, and streaming.

As earlier reported by Inside Radio, the first-of-its-kind study found that audio performs better than video in grabbing people’s attention and generating brand recall. On average, 41% of audio ads generated correct brand recall compared to the 38% norm for other advertising studied by dentsu. Brand choice uplift for audio ads was 10%, nearly double dentsu norms of 6%.

The metric used by dentsu and Lumen to measure listener attention was attentive seconds per thousand impressions or APM. The study found that APM for audio advertising was 10,126. That’s more than 50% higher than dentsu norms of 6,501 APM. The study concluded that each audio channel has its own unique strength in driving attention and brand impact.

Said Anderson, “You should have a holistic audio strategy where you are using each of the channels to their strengths. You should be buying all three: podcasting, terrestrial and digital audio because they complement each other and they serve different roles in your media plan.”

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