From New Ad Tech To Podcasting, Audio’s Ad Evolution Earns Praise From Marketers.


Audio may be a “secret weapon” for a growing number of brands, as iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman put it Friday during the company’s first-ever AudioCon for advertises and agency buyers. But it’s a secret that is increasingly getting out. Broadcast radio may still enjoy the biggest share of audio dollars, but digital – podcasting in particular – has gained traction as several big marketers said it is allowing them to reach listeners in new ways.


Hyundai CMO Angela Zepeda said they were able to tap into the Fake Doctors, Real Friends podcast to move beyond traditional advertising. Co-host Donald Faison drives a Hyundai SUV and he and co-host Zach Braff created a video for the carmaker driving around Los Angeles. “It was another way for them to bring their podcast to life in a way that hadn’t been done before and we heard fans loved it and they wanted to see more of that and in a longer form. We felt very naturally integrated into the show,” said Zepeda.


Hyundai has seen what she called a “huge brand lift” based on its audio advertising, with familiarity rising 18% this year and consideration up 8.5%. “That’s pretty big and so we’re really happy with the medium, and we’ll continue to spend here,” Zepeda said.


The genetic testing site 23andMe has been using radio personalities to talk about their product for the past several years. Then it took its audio use a step further when it created the Spit podcast to move from talking about genetic testing to larger issues surrounding identity. VP of Consumer Marketing Tracy Keim agreed audio is not only a “secret weapon” for her brand, but also a “creative space to see what resonates.” Those learnings can then be expanded upon with other ad formats, she said.


Yet T-Mobile Chief Creative Officer Peter DeLuca said their ads on the Hispanic-focused My Cultura podcast network are doing something even more fundamental – reaching a targeted segment. “We choose who our audience is and we’re finding ways to reach them through the various platforms, whether podcasts, on-air or at live events,” he said.


Listeners Don’t Skip Ads


Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeart’s Digital Audio Group, said one reason why podcast advertising has become so appealing to advertisers is because the scale has reached a critical mass –the channel now reaches 100 million Americans per month. He told buyers the iHeart Podcast Network has nearly 50 shows with more than one million downloads a month pushing it to an average of about 250 million downloads per month.


“We distribute every episode, everywhere where you can listen to podcasts. Why? So that we can deliver that scale back to brands so that we connect those brands, with those audiences,” said Byrne. Podcasting also has higher engagement levels than other media, he said. “iHeart podcasts have an ad skipping rate of 10%, and by the way, the whole podcast industry is only 20%,” said Byrne. “These are some of the lowest ad skipping rates in all of media, because fans are engaged,” he told buyers.


Growing podcast revenue is among the goals of the new Triton Audio Marketplace announced on Friday that will, for the first time, allow advertisers to buy ads on broadcast, podcast and streaming radio in a single digital exchange.


“Our intention is to make it easier for agencies, for customers to take the data that they've been using, bring it to an open marketplace and buy in whatever method that they choose, whether that's a direct relationship with our sales team, or through the digital platforms that they're used to doing [with] their programmatic buys,” explained Brian Kaminsky, Chief Data Officer & President of Revenue Strategies at iHeartMedia.


Thinking About Audio Differently


The evolution of ad tech comes as the big ad buying agencies push for not only new ways to buy, but better metrics to measure how those ads are performing.


“We're testing and experimenting, and setting aside significant amounts of budgets to see if things work,” said GroupM Global CEO Christian Juhl. Podcasting may be a “rocket ship” of growth right now, he said, but its base remains relatively small in the audio universe. That has them looking for ways to marry it with locally-focused audio ad buys.


Jacki Kelley, Dentsu’s CEO for the Americas, said it is not only audio companies that are evolving, but also media agencies. Pointing to her own creative teams, she said: “They're really thinking about audio differently. They're thinking about voice differently. They think about the importance of brands having a sonic strategy and that is very different than where we were even I would argue two or three years ago.”

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