Unleashing the power of sound in advertising
As the digital marketing landscape evolves, brands are continually seeking innovative ways to effectively connect with their audiences and influence their behaviour. Sonic advertising has emerged as a unique and engaging digital marketing channel, leaving a lasting impression on listeners and providing businesses with unparalleled benefits.
At the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to attend SXSW in Austin, Texas with Erin (our Founder and Director). Amidst the buzz (and the abundance of tacos) at the event, I found myself in a Spotify-powered session that delved deep into the wonders of their Sonic Science 2.0 research. The team from Spotify explored the physiological impact of sound, discussing how marketers can tap into the unique value of music and podcast audio to effectively reach their consumers. And gosh, did my inner marketing nerd brain implode!
In this article, I’ll walk you through an overview of sonic advertising, its advantages in terms of mood, engagement, and brand recall, its remarkable advertising capabilities, and how it stacks up against other digital marketing channels.
The power of audio
Sonic advertising harnesses the power of sound to create compelling (and mood-boosting) brand experiences. It involves using audio-based content, such as music, podcasts, or voice ads, to reach and engage with the audience.
The true power of audio advertising lies in its unique ability to seamlessly integrate into consumers’ daily activities. Whether it’s strolling along city streets, whipping up a culinary creation, pushing through a workout, or navigating the daily commute, audio ads weave into people’s routines. Brands that tap into sonic advertising have an opportunity to more deeply connect with their audiences in micro-moments that ensure the essence of the brand message is not only received but etched into memory.
That’s a big promise, right? So let’s get into the data.
Audio possesses an innate ability to evoke profound emotions. In a pivotal study conducted by Spotify in 2022 (Sonic Science report vol.2), the relationship between digital audio and listeners’ everyday encounters was explored. The study measured electrodermal activity—a marker of participants’ perspiration levels—while they engaged with Spotify, enabling them to measure whether the audio content they heard caused emotional arousal. The results indicated whether they were likely to be paying attention to the audio content.
External research conducted by DISQO also supports this notion. DISQO found that 45% of daily podcast listeners pay more attention to podcast ads as compared to other mediums. This indicates that when users actively choose the audio they want to listen to, they are more receptive to brand messages, leading to increased engagement and positive mood association.
In fact, 73% of global millennials and Gen Z’s say they customise their listening experience depending on where they are, what they are doing and who they are with. The team at Young Folks definitely know this to be true as we are often known to listen to ‘Monday Motivations’ when the team are gathered in the office on Mondays and more recently have started the routine of listening to my ‘Parti’ playlist (or shall we call it par-tay – ha!) on Fridays to set the mood heading into the weekend. We’ve even tapped into the evidence-based focus-boosting platform BrainFM to enhance our concentration, engagement and productivity.
The mental impact of social media use
The negative effects of social media channels (think: Facebook, Instagram and TikTok) on people’s mental state is a growing concern. According to a study conducted by Centers for Disease Control out of the US, researchers found a significant link between the presence of Facebook use and an increase in anxiety and depression among college students. The research found that the suicide rate among 10 to 24 year olds was stable from 2000 to 2007; and then increased by an alarming 57% between 2007 and 2017.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when scrolling through social media as often a user is bombarded with excessive content and exposed to a number of different messages, including those that don’t align with their values. As a result, it can often leave you with a negative mindset that can subconsciously be transferred onto a brand if they are being served with their ads.
On the contrary, sonic platforms present a refreshing alternative. People actively choose the content they want to hear, providing an enjoyable and positive experience. This positivity carries over to the advertising content, enhancing the chances of engagement and brand recall. And to further that point, data from Spotify’s research found that 68% of global millennials and Gen Z’s view audio as a mental health resource.
What this means for marketers is that as individuals turn to audio platforms for relaxation, they enter a notably calmer mental state. Consequently, they become more inclined to be responsive to advertisements. A case in point is the data sourced from Spotify, revealing that 73% of respondents in their study expressed a willingness to engage with ads that align with their current activities and mood. In an era of digital advertising where an increasing number of online users are adopting ad blockers and bolstering their online data protection, this presents an opportunity for marketers to increase the performance of their campaigns.
So, how does this fit into marketing?
The audience targeting capabilities on audio platforms continue to grow and evolve. Studies have shown that global audiences listen to an average of 20 hours of music per week via streaming platforms, and one in five users now listens to podcasts, with that number actively increasing.
The good news doesn’t stop there. Interacting with music and podcasts is one thing, but engaging with advertising is another thing entirely. Interestingly, Spotify’s research demonstrated that their listeners’ remarkable engagement levels remained steady even when exposed to audio ads. In fact, that number was found to be 60%, meaning that 60% of their listeners’ ad engagement carried over from the audio content heard immediately before (including music and podcasts) making listeners more receptive to ads.
My own experience working with numerous digital advertising platforms has shown me that the best ads are those that seamlessly integrate your message into the user’s experience. It’s no different when it comes to audio advertising.
With the advanced tracking capabilities available, we are able to determine when the ads are being shown based on the individual’s activity. An example of this is that we have the ability to serve ads to people when they are more likely to be cooking in the kitchen or when they are more likely to be driving to work.
This enables us to have more control over what brands and products we are serving, and increases the likelihood of providing a solution to our audience’s pain and/or gain points at the current time of need – what a win! Think: serving ads promoting fast, healthy and delicious ready-made meals to parents who are hustling to get their child’s dinner served on time after the work rush.
The Spotify Ads results we’ve seen so far for clients have been incredible. Looking at the ads that we’re managing, we’re seeing the average cost per completed listens sitting around $0.012 and the average cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) around $10. When you compare that to Meta’s average CPM of $14.40, it’s clear that audio advertising is a much more effective (and affordable) way to increase brand awareness and improve brand recall.
So, are you ready to jump in and test audio advertising for your brand?