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Why digital is transforming the audio landscape

14 Oct 2019  |  Simon Kilby 
Why digital is transforming the audio landscape

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Bauer Media's Simon Kilby places his bets on what will define the future of the medium

What’s next for audio? It’s a question we asked ourselves at Mediatel’s The Future of Audio where the brightest and best came together to discuss and deliberate the changing audio landscape as it continues to evolve and expand due to digital distribution.

The ways that audiences can now listen to audio are evolving and we have seen listening habits opening up new routes for advertisers to reach highly engaged audiences. A huge 66% of the population are listening to audio via a digitally connected device, throughout the week and the latest WARC/AA Expenditure Report saw online audio ad spend enjoy the biggest increase across the industry – growing 26.5% year-on-year.

The ways in which these audiences are being accessed by brands is also evolving - programmatic audio in Europe has grown over the last three years, accounting for more than 40% of digital audio ad spend in markets like the UK and Germany and we know marketers plan to spend more on programmatic audio in next 18 months as it delivers on key marketing objectives spanning engagement, effectiveness and brand safety (IAB and Xaxis). The exponential growth digital audio is seeing, in both uptake and technological advances, means it is an increasingly attractive and integral part of the media mix for brands and agencies.

The future certainly looks bright for audio as brands start to further understand the role that audio plays and in a space where visuals can’t reach"

The opportunity for the industry is how we can now bring the benefits of radio with digital’s offering to make it an increasingly attractive part of the media mix for brands. Digital audio advertising complements radio’s offering of trusted and brand-safe environment for advertisers, delivering both long-term brand building and short-term activation at scale, targeting audiences at the right time, in the right place with the right message, delivering on deeper engagement and greater effectiveness.

At Bauer, we’ve invested in this promising digital future which has paid dividends with standout digital performances across our radio brands in 2019. As our digital reach continues to grow to over 14 million listeners, KISSTORY is now the biggest digital radio station in the UK with impressive debuts seen from Country Hits Radio and Scala Radio this year – all fuelled by innovative launches reflecting the fastest growing music genres in the UK.

This summer, we added to our growing inventory by adding 7 more radio stations to our portfolio - accessed exclusively on a connected device via a log in - and are steadily adding to our podcast collection which now includes: Q Presents: The Making Of, The MOJO Innovators, Clyde 1 SuperScoreboard and the award-winning The Frank Skinner Show podcast.

These all offer audiences a more tailored listening experience evolving from some of the UK’s much loved radio brands. We are allowing advertisers to complement their DAB advertising to reach these highly engaged audiences across the customer journey where ever and however they may be listening, opening further opportunities around 1st party data.

Interaction with ads is changing too – what we’ve long known about trusted host endorsement in radio is translating to a digital audio world where the listening experience is more engaging and context is everything. In the case of podcast advertising, ads are more welcome and effective: 78% of listeners actually approve of podcast sponsorship.

We felt, earlier this year, the time was right to relaunch Bauer InStream: offering advertisers creative and targeted digital audio advertising solutions in a complete brand safe environment within a network of trusted and influential of Bauer-owned brands no longer accessible anywhere else, from much-loved brands such as Absolute Radio, KISS, Scala and Magic Radio alongside audio products from iconic publishing brands such as Empire and Grazia.

So where are we headed? The future certainly looks bright for audio as brands start to further understand the role that audio plays and in a space where visuals can’t reach. As an industry, we’ve got to work together to test, learn and to understand the possibilities audio presents. With scale set to accelerate as connected cars enter the market and podcasts continue to delight and inspire, we have a responsibility to educate brands and agencies on the power of sound to reach highly-engaged audiences powered by effective use of data, sonic creative magic in completely brand safe environments.

Simon Kilby is Bauer Media's Chief Revenue Officer

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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