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The Future Of Audio Advertising – From The Agency Perspective.

What lies ahead for audio advertising in a media world that is ever changing? Inside Radio spoke with two ad agency execs, from very different backgrounds, to get a sense of what’s next in the realm of audio marketing. Mood-based ad insertion, sonic branding and omnichannel campaigns are among areas where these agency execs see growth ahead.

Tony Mennuto, president of Wordsworth+Booth, the creative shop that specializes in audio and is part of media services agency Horizon Media, sees dynamic ad insertion playing an increasingly important role in the worlds of streaming audio and podcasting. Central to that is insertion technology that “understands my location, my interests and my mood,” he says, and delivers the appropriate message. In 2015, Horizon Media turned heads with an ahead-of-its time, mood-based approach for audio that uses the listener’s mood and emotion to make planning and buying decisions. “Understanding consumers’ state of mind and being able to meet that with the correct message is key,” Mennuto says. “I'm most excited about using technology to understand a consumer’s state of mind and then serving up the right ad.”

Since audio is inexpensive to produce and cost efficient to use, Mennuto says his shop can easily create 50 ads a day and then hand-tailor their messaging. Customizing the message based on mood and location is one of the advantages he sees in digital ad insertion.

Higher Performing Audio Ads

Six years after Horizon Media founder, President and CEO Bill Koenigsberg launched Wordsworth+Booth, it has grown from two clients to 50. With audio enjoying explosive growth, some brands that have overlooked the medium are now looking for answers about how to use it. The audio-centric shop places a premium on high quality creative and making sure it delivers results for the client.

“We've learned a lot over six years being within Horizon to understand whether the ads are resonating,” Mennuto says. “We employ testing now more than we ever have and testing is a great way to mitigate risk. Testing will let you know whether your messaging will resonate in an audio form.” Looking ahead, he sees tools, technology, testing and simply having a better understanding of consumers leading to higher performing audio ads.

Omnichannel Approach To Direct Response Ads

Meanwhile, performance-based audio ads remain a favorite among many brands. But the way they activate consumers is changing. Direct response ads long relied on providing an 800 number for listeners to call and place an order, which offered an easy way to track and measure direct engagement and revenue. But now listeners have myriad ways to engage with a brand and learn more about a product or service and ad campaigns need to reflect that. “It’s essential that advertisers take an omnichannel approach when launching a radio/audio campaign,” says Natalie Hale, founder and CEO of Media Partners Worldwide, a Long Beach, CA-based agency that specializes in direct response ads and is marking its 25th anniversary this year. “Less consumers will pick up the phone and call. Listeners research online and look at your website, look for reviews and consumer reports and then they either call or most often try to respond via online.”

The combination of radio and digital now makes up a huge chunk of the direct response world. And studies have shown how the two media complement one another as radio drives listeners to the web to search for more info about a product or to download a coupon or place an order. Attribution services can track the impact radio ads have on online visitation and web searches.

As brands that have been strangers to audio warm up to the medium, there is a good amount of education that still needs to take place. Mennuto says he’s continually fielding calls from Horizon account handlers who have a client that wants to know if they should be running 30s or 60s or need help understanding sonic branding. “We're working in some capacity or another with many, many brands at Horizon who want to know more about this space that has maybe been ignored,” he says. “And that's not out of laziness, but because the attention has always been on other important platforms. You started with TV years ago, and then you went into digital and now everybody listens to a podcast. The stats are astronomical in terms of listenership.”

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