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The evolution of audio offers advertisers unique opportunities


Audio and Voice
Audio and Voice

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 Octave’s Alex Simpson explores how new targeting and creative capabilities are enhancing audio for advertisers and consumers alike

It’s fascinating how a 30-second audio ad can be consumed through various devices yet always sound the same. Whether through radio, smart speakers, or headphones, consumers don’t differentiate; they just hear the ad. But how do advertisers and broadcasters maximise the potential of these devices while simplifying the process for themselves? The key lies in balancing creativity with scale and ease of buying.

Radio has come a long way, significantly since the days of the wireless box. Recent years have ushered in an explosion of possibilities, with smart speakers exemplifying this transformation. Traditionally a one-way medium radio talked at you, people often talk back to their radio or sing along (if there is no one else around) but if you wanted the radio to hear you, you had to phone in. Now radio allows interaction through smart speakers, enabling listeners to use their voice to engage without switching devices. This advancement extends to ads as well. Voice skills enable advertisers to not only communicate with their audience but also to facilitate a dialogue, allowing customers to request brochures, vouchers, or more information seamlessly. Although this technology is still new, it promises to change user behaviour as it becomes more normalised, offering a level of engagement unparalleled by other media.

Some audio formats, while simpler and older, are under used but highly effective. 3D audio, for instance, creates immersive soundscapes that capture listeners' attention through headphones. Given the intimacy of headphones, the opportunity to engross users in the brand experience through sound and imagination should not be underestimated.

Creative opportunities in radio are expanding, making the medium more distinctive. However, the potential of devices extends beyond creativity. Online radio, born without the cookie, spans multiple devices—from desktops and apps to cars and smart speakers—necessitating alternative touchpoints. This has driven broadcasters to leverage signals and cross-platform opportunities, using data points such as car make, movement speed, and precise location. Radio accompanies people in their daily lives, unlike other media that distracts them from it. Targeting drivers during their commute or shoppers in-store can be more impactful than vying for their attention on social media. Micro-signals can personalise messages based on accent, weather, or mealtime, such as targeting drivers stuck in traffic with train advertisements. A long-term approach to radio planning can create a flexible format that consistently delivers the right ad.

Radio offers a rich blend of creativity and data, but it is crucial to integrate these elements across devices. Broadcasters should provide audiences across platforms rather than isolating a devices or formats. Buyers should look to buy a vertical for instance Sports that can be delivered through data on streaming and contextual through podcasts with the assurance that a high standard of quality inventory and targeting is offered throughout. To facilitate easy buying, broadcasters must be transparent about their inventory and audience-building methods.

Embracing the cookieless nature of audio can showcase a cross-platform approach that works, establishing a solid foundation for creative strategies. Buyers should seize the cookieless opportunity and the simplicity of the audio ecosystem to explore new targeting methods. Broadcasters should showcase inventory free from fraud or MFA that is well curated and simple to plan.

Radio is blossoming, new targeting and creative approaches are allowing one of the best love mediums to grow as never before. We should support and try the creative opportunities but, at the same time, not overcomplicate a great product and risk scale. Radio has been effective for over 120 years, and the current challenge is to make it even more impactful.

By Alex Simpson , Head of Programmatic


Octave Audio is a joint venture from two of the UK’s leading commercial radio operators News UK’s Wireless and Bauer Media. The new digital audio company was established to give brands and advertisers the opportunity to target premium, engaged audio audiences powered by first-party data at exceptional scale, in a transparent and brand safe environment. Advertisers are able to communicate with the connected audiences of leading radio brands including talkSPORT, KISS, Absolute Radio, Virgin Radio, Magic Radio, Hits Radio and Greatest Hits Radio, plus on-demand catch-up shows and Podcasts such as Stories of our Times, the Empire Film Podcast or TalkSPORT HIT, all in one place.

Posted on: Wednesday 12 June 2024