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The powers of audio during times of national uncertainty

15 Apr 2020  |  Charlotte Taylor 
The powers of audio during times of national uncertainty

Digital audio provides a huge opportunity for brands, now more so than ever, writes Charlotte Taylor

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the audio market has quickly adapted to the change in media consumption and continues to prove its resilience. We know that during times of difficulty, audio plays three key need states; Trust, Influence and Entertainment.

With the nation in lockdown and people spending more time inside, the ways in which people listen has changed in a number of ways. With this in mind, it’s important that brands and advertisers adapt their marketing campaigns at the same pace.

Digital audio provides a huge opportunity for brands, now more so than ever. We know that music streaming numbers have increased by 23% since the lockdown ensued, Alexa flash briefings listeners are up a whopping 156% and smart speaker listening has increased by 11% (source: AudienceOne), all of which gives us an audience that previously we might not have reached via audio.

Increased audiences paired with the flexibility of digital audio is stimulating for the industry. Dynamic audio campaigns are going to become integral to the way in which audio is bought as we need to be able to instantaneously adapt messaging during this time. For example, changing scripts that are no longer suitable, switching products due to sales and encouraging consumers to shop online as opposed to in store.

2020 was always going to be year of increased addressable spend for audio - this is now set to accelerate.

“Pre-Covid-19 world”, we were already seeing new launches, with the likes of Octave audio, the joint venture between News UK’s Wireless and Bauer Media, to give advertisers the opportunity to target digital audio listeners at exceptional scale. This is going to be exciting for the entire industry, offering such scale and first party data between two major forces in audio.

Increased social isolation has led to significant boosts across all forms of audio. With the UK being at home and wanting to feel more connected to what’s going on around the world, people are having to find new ways of entertaining themselves and having that sense of human interaction.

Podcast listening is seeing an impressive surge in listeners, ACAST has experienced an additional 2m listeners over the past four weeks alone!

But the increase in listeners provides a key challenge for marketers which is ensuring that brands are relevant and speaking to the audience in a manner that is appropriate for such a lean in media, whilst also being mindful that this is being used as a form of escapism.

However, it’s not just digital audio that is seeing a surge during these unprecedented times, traditional linear radio has also experienced an increase in listeners that cannot be ignored.

Global Radio has reported an increase in 18% in terms of reach and 15% in listening hours - these are huge increases! Speech stations such as Global’s LBC and Wireless’ Talk Radio are attracting new audiences that have not previously tuned in.

The industry is also experiencing market wide shifts in how and when listeners are tuning into radio. For example, morning and evening radio peak times have extended and now accompany us throughout the day… Is mid-morning/afternoon the new drive time?

Increased listening rates provide us with an engaged audience during a time of crisis, that isn’t currently being experienced in other media channels.

We’ve even seen examples of this dating back to during war time when radio was the best and quickest way of reaching those audiences alongside TV. This is clearly a channel that needs to be at the forefront of minds for brands.

Throughout the last month, audio has continued to be a trusted medium, from people turning to news stations for the latest updates, but also as a companion, a friendly and familiar voice throughout the day.

For those audio buyers, we must ensure that brands’ audio strategies are reactive and reflective of this “new world”.


Charlotte Taylor, senior group trading director, Spark Foundry


Between 6 - 17 April Mediatel is hosting The Future of Audio - a free digital event to experience during lockdown. Click here for the full agenda, which includes live-streams, presentations and audio-themed editorial.



Mediatel are the audio experts operating at the centre of audio trading, distribution and analytic processing. Contact us for more information on J-ET, Audiotrack or our RAJAR data engine.

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