The audio blind spot
There are new audio measurement challenges facing the industry, but OMD's Flora Williams says it could be solved through the development of an integrated tool
Sexy technology, huge innovation, high quality production and an abundance of creative talent means that audio is finally getting the credit it rightly deserves.
But before we get swept away with the next enticing audio opportunity, we need to future-proof the established audio landscape.
The audio blind spots
The foundation of audio is now a combination of traditional radio and digital audio. In the last two years, increased revenue in audio has been significantly driven by digital; offering a complementary opportunity to reach listeners in new places rather than stealing listeners from traditional radio.
However, digital audio still has two blind spots which, now that the products are established, it’s time to address.
Due to the exciting and varied formats - from podcasts to music streaming - the pre-roll opportunities are varied and wide reaching – a great benefit of audio. However, these are all grouped into one phrase - digital audio - which is misleading.
This therefore means that there are large inconsistencies when comparing metrics like content to ad ratio, share of break and listen through rate. In podcasts, there are many metrics which everyone from media owners to agencies can’t see and that’s because Apple still dominates the market with a 62% streaming share (down from 66% this time last year, but still huge).
The market is also becoming increasingly fragmented with over 698 podcasts (Acast, Sep 2019), which means the data available is inconsistent. Spotify entering into the market could help as they have first party data, but only if they open up the walled garden.
Voice activated devices are another watch-out. So far they are owned by Google and Amazon, meaning that audio sales houses do not have direct access to the data.
What’s the solution?
We suggest learning from other media and making the complex navigable through standardised data which would mean that agencies can plan audio across traditional radio and digital audio in detail for clients. The print market’s fraction of paper and digital led to the same quandary which in turn resulted in PAMCo which is available across the industry, and used by people like me to educate and quantify print planning.
This isn’t an overnight fix but instead a long-term investment. To bring together a planning tool for audio across traditional radio and digital audio would fill the cracks in the audio planning foundation. And I’m not saying it would be easy, but it would certainly give agencies the ability to justify new innovations and take advantage of opportunities that the future will no doubt bring.
Flora Williams is connections planning business director at OMD UK