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What's Holding Back Digital Audio Ad Buys? Low Awareness, Says New Study.

Nearly four in ten local advertisers (38%) say they advertised on local radio in the past 12 months, more than double the portion that bought streaming audio ads (15%) and thirteen-times the number that purchased podcast advertising (3%). These new findings from Borrell Associates’ latest survey of local advertisers illuminate a serious awareness issue digital audio advertising has among small and medium sized businesses. The survey of 178 local businesses conducted from October-November 2021 is the basis for “How Local Marketers View Streaming Audio,” a new report from Borrell. It found respondents were much more familiar with how to buy ads that run on local radio stations compared with streaming audio and podcasts. More than half of panelists surveyed had low levels of understanding of how to advertise in podcasts. The fact that only 15% have dabbled in streaming audio advertising isn’t because they don’t believe in its effectiveness. Four in ten (38%) of digital audio users say it has been very or extremely effective. That’s in the ballpark with the 43% of those using local radio station spots who said the same about broadcast radio.

One glaring reason why advertisers have lower awareness levels for how to buy digital audio is that a majority of panelists (62%) say they haven’t been pitched on digital audio/podcast advertising. Of the 28% that got the pitch but passed, Borrell says 40% said it was too expensive. Not knowing enough about it was another prevalent reason why many panelists have not yet ventured into digital audio advertising. “They aren't buying it because they don't know about it. No one's talking to them so that probably feeds into why they think it's too expensive,” said Borrell Associates VP of Research Corey Elliott in a video summary of the findings. “It’s hard to get behind something when you don't know about it and hard to buy something when it hasn't been pitched.” Suggesting there is a significant untapped opportunity, more than half of small and medium sized businesses surveyed by Borrell who have not tried digital audio or podcast advertising have at least slight interest in this type of advertising. And among those with any interest in streaming audio or podcast advertising, the main info businesses are seeking before buying include reach, targeting, geographic scope, and reporting metrics. Digital Seen As Better For Targeting and Control The survey shows local businesses see streaming audio/podcast ads as offering much better targeting capabilities, more accurate reporting metrics, and better control over where ad content runs. They even view them as more affordable compared with traditional radio spots. But traditional radio spots have the advantage when it comes to ease of buying. As far as response rates to ads go, the panelists perceived them as not being much different on radio versus online. While there were wide discrepancies between digital and traditional audio when it comes to purchasing, the vast majority of respondents say they listen to audio media regularly. Just over six in ten (61%) listen nearly every day to traditional radio and 77% tune in every week. Half (50%) listen to internet/satellite audio daily and 69% weekly. For online/satellite listening, music is the overwhelming draw, with 87% listening for that reason; 39% consume podcasts. In other findings, panelists are most aware of advertising when listening to local radio stations and less aware of ads on radio station websites or other digitally streamed audio content. The data shows more than half of survey takers (56%) are very aware of advertising when listening to local radio stations, compared to 27% for internet/satellite audio listeners and 39% for podcasts.

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