Audio platforms had a great 2018 and are poised to take all the excitement around streaming, podcasting and voice into 2019 as well. There has never been a more exciting time for Audio, with technologies like smartphones, connected cars and smart speakers driving online listening to bigger and bigger audience numbers. Today’s consumer is comfortable in an audio first environment which offers many opportunities to brand and agency marketers looking to connect in new and more engaging ways.
“Increased connectivity, new devices, and innovations in traditional listening spaces like the home and car will continue to drive increased time spent with audio. With the proliferation of these devices, brands will need to start thinking about their sonic identity to better inform audio creative decisioning and story-telling as audio continues to evolve,” says Priscilla Valls, VP Agency, Advertiser, & Industry Partnerships at Pandora.
Smart speaker usage is changing the way we interact with everything – and fast. The number of smart speaker users is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 47.9%, according to eMarketer. That speed of growth is faster than any tech product since the smartphone. This has created an environment where users expect voice and audio elements to drive their wants and needs.
“I believe we will see media companies exercising the creative possibilities of voice activation in new ways, especially as people become more comfortable navigating their day through voice and more screened smart speaker devices enter the market,” says Gina Garrubbo, CEO, National Public Media. “These devices already have a strong foothold in U.S. homes, and they hold huge promise for the media industry: Nearly 12 million smart speaker owners used their flash/news briefing in the last week!”
Driving the expansion of digital audio is great content. From the expansive, personalized music options available from streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, to new offerings like streamed sports, to the enormous variety of quality podcasts, listeners are challenged only to select what it is they want to listen to while they work, workout, drive their cars, and more. This demand for listening is also causing convenient shifts in the industry. In 2019, “Podcast publishers will develop new shows and show formats optimized for users of music streaming apps, which will help the music apps gain podcast listening market share,” predicts Mark McCrery, Founder and CEO, Podtrac and Authentic.
These shifts will extend to business operations as well, enabling better ways to buy and sell digital audio inventory. So says Sarah Van Mosel, Chief Podcast Sales and Strategy Officer, Market Enginuity: “For podcasts, 2019 will be the Year of the Platforms! We’ll start to see the acceleration of bifurcated programmatic and direct sales. With most major platforms investing in ad tech and many taking great pains to bring popular content into their ecosystems, we’ll see more platforms selling podcast audiences programmatically, while direct sales teams will focus on host-centric, customized, high-touch opportunities.”
Meanwhile investments in digital audio continue to increase, with the recently released Half Year IAB/PwC Ad Revenue Report showing $935 million for Digital Audio – a 30.6% increase year over year. There’s good reason for the increase, according to Hal Trencher, SVP Sponsorships at leading podcast publisher New York Public Radio. “Brands continue in great numbers to embrace Podcasts. It is a platform that is strong in brand safety, audience appeal and a highly sought after audience profile. With great certainty, Brands demand value in their investments and Podcasts continue to deliver.”
It’s a great time to invest in digital audio, according to these IAB Audio Committee members and industry leaders. “It’s been great to see agencies and marketers really step up their investment in audio in 2018. The accelerating rate of audience growth, combined with increasing scale, capabilities, and creativity on the advertising side, will make 2019 another great year for online audio.” Says John Rosso, President, Triton Digital.
To help marketers develop their digital audio strategy, the IAB has released the 2019 Digital Audio Buyer’s Guide. “The newly released 2019 IAB Digital Audio Buyer’s Guide is an excellent resource for marketers looking to invest in Digital Audio.” says Priscilla Valls, Pandora, co-chair of the group of members that produced the guide. “From updated research to discussions of brand safety, programmatic and creative best practices, it’s a great resource on the digital audio marketplace.”