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Why audio matters.

4/5 minute read

 

Right off the bat, full disclosure… I’m biased. I’ve worked with audio for 10 years, both in a production and programming context, and as a creative in advertising.

I love it, I value it and I champion it. I think it’s so often overlooked or underestimated as a marketing tool. I’m biased. But I’m also right. And here’s why.

 

The revolution will not be televised. People’s media and content consumption has changed drastically over the last two decades. And with 2.71 billion pairs of eyes now glued to smartphones across the globe people have never been so accessible. However, with higher ad exposure (and nobody really likes ads. Except us – the creators), shorter attention spans, and more content options than ever, they seem like a tough audience to crack.

But this is where audio does its best work.

Audio consumption is passive. It doesn’t demand your complete attention, but it can COMMAND it when done right. You can listen to music, podcasts, radio, audiobooks… all while doing something else.

On your commute. Looking at your mobile while driving is a fast way to a fine… or worse. That’s why the commute’s all about our favourite stations or Bluetooth streaming your music or podcast favourites (ok, I use a cable - don’t judge me).

At the office. Almost no one could watch Youtube all day in work. But pop those headphones on and you’re in two worlds at once. The work world and the listening world.

At the gym. For every 1 person watching atrocious ‘gym TV’, there’ll be 50 others wearing a pair of headphones listening to Spotify, iTunes, That Peter Crouch Podcast… you get the picture – or not, because you’re listening.

 Even the smartphone generation has its unreachable activities. Unless you’re audio

 

Music doesn’t go out of fashion. Our relationship with music is extremely intimate and fiercely passionate. We won’t stop listening to music. It won’t go out of fashion. So targeted, dynamic and programmatic audio ads served on streaming music platforms like Spotify and Deezer provide a unique opportunity to talk to people while they enjoy their own personally curated playlists.

Creatively, it’s a fine line - you don’t want to remove people from this mind space with an ill-fitting ad (remember… EVERYONE hates ads). But great content that aligns with their choices allows you to speak to people one-to-one, probably via headphones – so an intimate, conversational message is best.

There have been multiple studies on music’s effectiveness. In terms of memorability and emotive impact, music is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Music has a proven track record of playing on emotions. From the humble radio jingle, to famous licensed tracks on TV – music aids brand recall, familiarity and grabs attention in a way that resonates on a chemical level. And it’s proven this helps drive significant returns for advertisers. Check out Nielson’s The Emotive Power of Music in Advertising and RadioCentre’s ‘Strike a Chord’ research projects.

 

Podcasts are changing EVERYTHING. Just like voice technology is changing search, podcasting is impacting audio content (and advertising opportunities) in a big way. The podcast boom is real. The secret’s out, and the potential’s HUGE. But the UK is still behind the sophisticated (programmatic-ad networked) podcast scene in the US. Even with nearly 7 million UK listeners every week. And with half those listeners under the age of 35 this is the future and the future is now.

For marketers and advertisers, the chance to create content-led brand assets that match an audience’s passions is too attractive to pass up. As a brand builder and as a response tool. Promo codes, bespoke landing pages and accompanying social and web promotions make offer-led advertising measurable. And brands can use all these tools to monetise their podcasts with partners and sponsors.

 

Social audio works… if you trust it. PLEASE. STOP. OPTIMISING. EVERYTHING.

I’m so fed up with that bloody Goldfish stat. You know the one, the glib little ditty that reminds us that people’s average attention span on social media is 7 seconds – less than a goldfish. It’s not the stat so much as the response… “We need to optimise all of our social video content to 7 seconds!

The stat’s often followed by, “Oh, and 85% of people who watch video on Facebook watch without sound… so do we even need audio?

I’m not advocating you don’t use short form content on social – you should. But if you make all your content 7 seconds… the most attention you’ll command is… 7 seconds.

It’s an average. Longer form content works if it’s engaging enough to hook the right people’s interest in the first 7 seconds. Most people aren’t your audience. Your people are. The ones who have an interest in your brand, your product. Make content for them. Not everyone.

Now the audio. Generally speaking, people don’t ‘watch’ their favourite content on silent. The 15% of Facebook video views with sound on… that’s the 15% of videos you care enough about to TURN ON THE SOUND! How many people do you think watched Iceland or John Lewis’ Christmas ads on silent regardless of platform?

Caption the video. Treat the audio with the same respect as the visuals. Put your trust in the content. Good content will work. Good creative isn’t meant to be easy.

 

Listen, and act. At Fore, we’ve made significant investment in our audio division. With some of the best talent from UK radio, programming and audio content production backgrounds we’ve widened our audio product suite and launched the Fore Network; our podcast and content hub for creators, on-air talent and brands.

Marrying unique, branded audio shows with everything we already do well on social will give us a network of engaging, cross-platform content that appeals to the wants and needs of both the audience and advertisers.

The current podcast boom aside. What we say, sing, play and hear has always mattered.

People just forget how big an influence it has because we can’t SEE it. But things have changed.

Audio is having a moment. Make sure you’re listening.

 

Contributor: 
Gary Lamont

Role at Fore:  
Chief Creative Officer

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