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IAB Explores Audience Attentiveness To Audio.

More than three months after a study by media agency network dentsu cracked the code on measuring listener attention to radio and other audio advertising, the first-of-its-kind study continues to generate buzz among audio ad sellers and buyers. The importance of audio and the attention that it commands was the lead-off topic in a recap webinar presented Tuesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

In a Zoom discussion about hot topics from last month’s IAB Audio Innovators Leadership Summit, Audacy Senior VP of Research and Insights Idil Cakim said the study underscores “the power of audio in a competitive media landscape.” Working with Lumen Research, dentsu measured various audio formats and environments across three unique studies in podcasts, radio, and music streaming and found that audio performs better than video in grabbing people’s attention and generating brand recall. The cross-platform study showed that “audio commands significantly more attention for every 1,000 impressions served when compared to TV, online video, display and social,” Cakim told the webinar audience. “For every 1,000 impressions that are delivered, audio yields more than 10,000 seconds of attention,” Cakim said. TV and social media generated around 4,000 seconds of attention, while video was just above 6,000.

“Audio is the one medium that is surpassing dentsu norms,” Cakim continued. “It’s a wonderful cross-media platform snapshot talking about the importance of audio and the attention that it commands.”

The dentsu study also examined the impact of audience attention on brand effects. Here again, it showed that audio surpassed dentsu norms in terms of brand recall. The study found that 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%.

Ears On

While attentiveness has been studied for video before, audio was largely ignored by researchers until this past July when dentsu and Lumen Research put it under the microscope for their Attention Economy project. In the video world, attentiveness asks, “Were their eyes on it? Did people actually look at it,” Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard told the IAB audience. For audio it looked at “ears-on, meaning could people have the opportunity to hear it, was it audible.”

Along with showing that audio out-performs video in attentiveness, the study also showed radio is the most efficient media for grabbing people’s attention. And that it costs less to produce attention with podcasts than with TV, online video, display, or social media advertising.

Podcast Revenues Rise To $2.3 Billion

Tuesday’s IAB Zoom discussion also revisited the PwC ad forecast, which projects podcast revenues will jump 25% year over year to $2.3 billion in 2023, on its way to $4 billion by 2025. That’s a long way from $842,000 in 2020. “It's extraordinary to see this change occurring so quickly,” Bouvard said. Another big change in the podcast industry is the influx of brand ad dollars to a medium that that was built on direct response advertising.

Consider that in 2016, 73% of podcast revenue was from direct response. From 2018 to 2021 it evolved to a 50-50 split. Last year, brand advertising outpaced direct response 53% to 46%. “This year, after dabbling and tiptoeing around, brands decisively are becoming the leading spender in podcast,” Bouvard said, with 61% of revenue coming from brand advertising and 39% from direct response.

Bouvard sees four big implications from this trend: Podcast ad targeting will become broader. Creative will shift from facts and figures to a more entertaining, fun approach. Measurement will move away from attribution to brand effect and brand studies. And brand safety and brand suitability will become more important.

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