Opinion

Is audio the next digital?

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20 years ago, digital turned the world on its head, I believe the evidence shows it’s audio in all its forms that’s now the biggest opportunity for brands, content creators and ultimately for listeners. Deloitte has predicted that for 2024 monthly average radio listeners will be close to 4 billion, which is nearly half of the world’s population. The same report forecasts the number of monthly average podcast listeners to be over 1.7 billion, audiobook listeners to be 270 million and streaming music subscribers estimated to be 750 million. Whilst Spotify aims to have a billion users by 2030.

Through programmatic technology, advertisers have the potential to speak directly to their audience with personalisation opportunities that drive deeper connections with the listener, targeting listening habits, weather conditions, location and even time of day.

Many audio platforms run premium and ad supported models, providing double the opportunity for creators behind the scenes, as the need for audio content and advertising increases with the growing listenership.

Dolby’s Kevin Yeaman, the company’s CEO and President, explained at the end of ‘23 that they remained “confident in our opportunity to drive long term growth in TVs, mobile and automotive as Dolby-enabled content continues to proliferate and attract more consumers. Today there is more audio content, more types of content and more ways to enjoy that content than ever before”, Yeaman added. And in 2023 more than 85% of the worldwide Billboard top 100 recording artists had one or more tracks available in Dolby Atmos.

Consumers are demanding ever increasing quality from their listening experience - and rightly so - there are more options than ever, so if it doesn’t sound good they will vote with their feet. Brands, platforms, radio broadcasters or publishers might be tempted by low quality creative or generative AI to produce a voice or piece of music to keep costs down, but they will be overlooking what great audio creative and carefully crafted production (not to mention a piece of music or audio branding created by a composer who’s been honing their skills for a couple of decades) can bring to a project.

In advertising, for example, anything that doesn't compliment the surrounding content risks alienating the audience. Spotify’s research ‘Press Play’ conducted by MTM in 2022 found that “Listeners expect ads to fit the topic of the content they’re consuming - maintaining the flow of information and boosting receptivity”, and that “People have come to expect ad formats that gel with their content and push creative boundaries.”

Radiocentre and creative effectiveness platform System1 published a fascinating piece of research titled ‘Listen Up!’, the first of its kind to “define left- and right-brain creative features for audio.” They found that “Audio ads with more right-brain features are more likely to cause longer-lasting brand effects.” And “features like character, story unfolding, sense of place and dramatic intimacy creates more positive emotion, less negative emotion, and attracts the attention of broader audiences (something that’s key for lasting brand effects) and forms stronger memories (boosting advertising awareness).” Brilliant sound design, the perfectly cast VO, creative writing and deep sonic quality is going to tap into all of that.

Our ECD, Kathleen Moroney, has been passionate about helping clients to understand (and more importantly, to feel) the incredible power of audio since starting with the business in 2015. Her team has made it their mission to craft incredible experiences, fully immersing clients into a world of audio in numerous ways over the years in order to demonstrate the effectiveness and breadth of possibilities available. From Atmos experiences in cinema suites across the world, to binaural fairy tales in hand-built candy covered cottages, Alice In Wonderland themed 3D audio tea parties, to training and inspiration days for sales teams, the audio possibilities are endless when you fully explore them.

We believe that whatever the project, clients will need just the right balance of technology, innovation and creativity in order to achieve the best ROI and maximum enjoyment for the listener, as ultimately they are one of the same. It doesn't really matter to us if it’s classified as “post production”, “content creation”, or “advertising” as the creative and technological lines continue to become increasingly blurred. Over the past 12 months for example our team has delivered hundreds of bespoke 3D audio ads, thousands of host-read scripts for podcasts, digital experiences that enhance audio campaigns, bespoke music compositions and sonic identities for global brands, as well as several immersive long-form audio dramas mixed in Atmos... That’s aside from the more traditional audio post production services we provide every day for commercials, film, drama and kids cartoon series. Successful delivery of all these projects requires an understanding of the latest technology combined with a deep spirit of collaboration, innovation and creativity - and for nearly 20 years our team of engineers, sound designers, creative writers, composers, account managers and producers have been focusing on nothing else.

As audio becomes the new digital, or as Kevin Yeaman puts it, we see “more audio content, more types of content and more ways to enjoy that content than ever before”, clients will need specialist guidance to realise all these wonderful opportunities and to ensure their message lands just perfectly, on the right set of ears. It’s our job to continue to adapt and to fly the flag for great creativity, ultimately enriching every project with amazing performances and beautiful soundscapes, which is what we love doing every day. As we do that, the opportunities for our team, for audio creators around the world and ultimately for all of those billions of sets of ears, will become even more enjoyable!

If you are reading this and you’d like to find out more about great audio, drop us a line anytime.

Happy listening!

 

Sources:
Deloitte - 2024 consumer audio market trends
Euronews - Spotify user numbers by 2030
Spotify - ‘Press Play’ digital audio trends research
Radiocentre - ‘Listen Up’ research

Campaign Audio Advertising Award Winners
Campaign Audio Advertising Award Winners
Pierce Tully, Creative Rising Star
Pierce Tully, Creative Rising Star