All Ears for Digital Audio

Mark Pappas, SVP, Growth and Innovation

February 16, 2021

In our industry, when the subject of audio comes up it typically defaults to voice assistants or radio as in terrestrial stations. While AM/FM radio is still by far the leader in reach, 2020 marks the year that digital audio finally surpassed the usage of traditional radio primarily due to the pandemic and the new normal being remote working from home full time.

According to Nielsen, 75% of adults surveyed said they listen to music during work from home hours. This is even more than they spend on social media, TV or even online shopping. 40% of those listening to music are doing it daily.

Looking at adults 18+, Nielsen saw a 14% increase year over year for adults streaming audio on a smart phone and an 8% increase in reach for voice assistants.

The biggest users of audio in Q1 2020 were those 50+ listening to audio up to 15 hours per week. Among adults, the weekly use of smartphones and tablets grew 28% and 20%, for streaming purposes in Q1 vs last year.

According to IAB, since 2016 ad revenue from digital audio has tripled to over $3 billion, yet many pharma brands are still hesitant to take the plunge.

Looking at our own CMI/Compas Media Vitals™ data, about half of HCPs are listening to streaming music throughout the day.

There are ample opportunities to reach users through different platforms from Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and many others. Some platforms even have dedicated ad units specifically for when a user is listening to streaming audio through a smart speaker such as an Amazon Alexa or Google Home versus using their mobile devices or web browser.

Another sign of the trend, recently, Google has taken a much stronger interest in audio advertising. While Google has offered programmatic buying digital audio options in DV360 their demand side platform (DSP) since 2018, more recently Google has rolled out a suite of new tools to DV360 to bring forward many new measurement options and tools to help brands create audio ads much easier than before. Google has even rolled out a free tool called Audio Mixer for marketers to create their own audio ads.

With work from home as the new normal for the foreseeable future and the exponential rise in usage of digital audio, especially podcasts which are expected to surpass 160 million listeners in 2023, now is the time for brands to get their feet wet leveraging programmatic buys to test things out without committing to large spends or contracts. With free tools available to create ads, it has never been easier to start to give a voice to your brand.