Hearing is hard to switch off, even while sleeping. The same can’t be said for watching videos. I listen to podcasts a lot. While running, travelling, cleaning and occasionally changing my one year old’s nappy. My four year old daughter recently asked Siri what CPI was. When I laughed, my daughter rolled her eyes and said, “Hey Alexa, play We Don’t Talk About Bruno”.
Now I might create audio, but our house isn’t unique. Audio usage has been growing 30-50 percent YOY for the last five years. Australians listen to 52.94 hours of Audio per month. Compared to the 60.34 hours of monthly TV watching, it’s clear we listen as much as we watch. But, add the hours of computer or phone viewing and it’s no surprise that we’re video fatigued. Which is audio’s opportunity.
Audio has deeper engagement than any other channel. It can be a great hands-free distraction, can help focus and has increased retention than other media. That’s why digital audio is fast becoming a brand’s most important external and internal channel.
So, let’s understand how brands could benefit by transforming their communications from visual to audio.
Branding strategies need to include sound
Eighty percent of brands don’t have an audio logo. Not a big deal? If your customer isn’t looking, how do they recognise you? Can you tell me Intel’s tagline? How about what Intel sounds like? What does Nike sound like? Hard to say, but what about Netflix, or HBO?
When designing an audio logo, make it unique. Consider the music, the instruments, sound effects, voice/s and overall vibe of your brand. What’s most important when your audience hears your audio logo? What’s your tone? What are your values? Will an audience hear that in your logo? Check out the podcast 20000 KHZ episode on sonic branding for more.
Audio ads work harder than any other channel
For 25 years I’ve made radio ads, TV and video commercials, and content of all kinds. People don’t enjoy ads interrupting shows. Especially bad ads. This means ads that aren’t memorable, singable, ads that sell too much or lack story. Basically, if ads aren’t entertaining or informative, audiences switch channels or just switch off.
Sometimes, the audience’s enjoyment doesn’t matter for an ad to be effective. Frank Walker from National Tiles might have an annoying voice fit for local radio and an ad that is cheap and cheerful to make. His, “Helloooooooo, Frank Walker from National Tiles,” has been around for years. It’s overtly salesy, far too direct and very old school radio. But the only Tile brand I know is National Tiles. It’s consistent. While National Tiles might stand out in a block of radio ads because of Frank’s voice, his ad wouldn’t work in podcasting because it’s intrusive — radio ads fight for audience attention.
If your sound stays consistent for long enough, your audience will feel a familiarity and connection to your brand. And if you have a device to get your audience’s attention like Frank’s foghorn opener it might just work on radio.
Podcasting advertising works differently — there are less ads per break, they are generally host-read to align with the show – so in effect, host reads are more like endorsements than ads.
In 2017 industry consensus was that podcast ads were worth listening to for entertainment and learning. Brands like Mailchimp and Squarespace created ads to fit the tone of the podcast, rather than using programmatic ads. Their sales proved their audio strategy worked but as podcasting advertising increases, that consideration might reduce if brands don’t learn from some of the mistakes that radio and video ads have made. Brand consideration is highest in podcasting than any other medium at 60 percent, with youtube at 51 percent, and radio at 22 percent. What is the consideration you’re getting in your audio and video ads?
Recent research indicated that on average podcast listeners listen to > 80 percent Given the median length of a podcast is 38 minutes, that’s a lot of listening.
When brands consider investing in podcasting, ROI is the big conversation but consider this: What’s your ROI across video ads? Where are your video ads placed? What’s it costing you on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn and how deeply is your brand considered?
Are you comparing apples with turkeys when deciding your marketing mix? Millions of impressions that are counting 2 second views as a “watch” will deliver you a result… but do you question how much video you’re making to an audience that is not focused on your content? What about your long form content? Or your internal content?
Audio creates connection in a hybrid workplace
Less than 10 percent of brands have an internal podcast. We use email, Slack, Teams etc all day. Those platforms make chatting easy – but they don’t always have an emotionally positive impact or aid employee engagement. Twenty-one percent of internal emails aren’t opened, and only 20 percent who read them actually read the email properly.
With two out of three Australians working in a hybrid setting, 80 percent of employees feel disengaged. Audio can help. It’s personal, intimate and can transport listeners into a conversation, sharing the connection and belonging remote employees crave.
If an organisation switches to communicating with their employees through audio they hear team members, new employees or the CEO speak about what’s happening; they can listen when it suits. A company can create weekly 10 min status updates and still give everyone the chance to be heard. Can you imagine the time and cost savings when those lengthy weekly status meetings are eliminated from your calendar? And that 10 min CEO update that costs $2,000 to film and edit, that has seven rounds of changes and requires two months of planning to get filmed… that less than a quarter of the company watches? What if that was recorded via audio and dropped into your company’s audio channel (eg. Spotify) so your employees could listen whenever it suited them and not when they had to be seated at their desk? Would that improve the listen through rate? What would the impact be on your business? How about training via audio – would employees hear and ingest that info better than reading a length pdf?
Whether it’s internal or external, Audio can generate a connection between your brand and audience like no other media. But first, think about what your different audience wants to hear from you and what you want to say. They might just listen.
Josh Butt is the founder and executive producer at Ampel Audio.