IAB MeasureUp 2018: Audio Advertising Q&A

We sat down with IAB Audio council members Sharon Taylor, OmnyStudio CEO (pictured), and Tristan Vining, creative director at Eardrum, at the IAB MeasureUp 2018 conference, to talk about how audio advertising is changing, and how Eardrum and IAB’s Choosi example demonstrates what brands could be doing with audio as a medium.


radioinfo: Could you talk about what’s been covered today, and how you can advertise effectively though audio?

Tristan: We developed examples of best practices when advertising through all the different audio channels, because it’s very important that you tailor whatever you’re doing in audio to the specific channel. So for the same reason why you wouldn’t put a long copy print ad on a billboard, you shouldn’t simply run your radio ads on spotify, or you shouldn’t simply run your radio ads on a podcast.

radioinfo: Do you think advertisers right now are adhering to those best practices?

Tristan: I think currently no, but what’s so exciting about audio is it is starting to become more and more popular. Ralph often jokes, because he’s been running eardrum for thirty odd years nows, and he feels like finally for the first time in his career that he’s working in a cool industry. Because… radio is often the least cool of all the mediums- not in my opinion, but in the general consensus of the creative department- but with the explosion of podcasts, audio is suddenly becoming more and more interesting, where you can do interesting, long-form creative. So for the first time in awhile, people are wanting to do more and more audio. So currently these practices aren’t being adhered to, but I think more and more people are starting to wake up to the fact that you can’t just treat every audio medium the same, giving the respect to the platform and the audience. Because they’re all very very different and consumed in very different ways.

radioinfo: Do you think that kind of coolness that I think it’s fair to say podcasts have given to audio, as a medium, extends to radio?

Sharon: We work with the biggest broadcasters around the globe and everyone wants to get into podcasting. People call it the second renaissance of audio… I think podcasting is a symptom of a consumer behaviour, which is shifting to on demand, and radio needs to become involved in that, and podcasting gives them a way of not just time-shifting or doing catch-up shows, but actually creating audio assets in a new kind of space, but is still adjacent to obviously the traditional space. And so I think it is a little bit of… audio, a lot of people would call it a second class citizen in a lot of times, and I think podcasting has kind of shone a light on that and been like ‘Oh wow! this is a way to reach people that want to engage with audio content again, how do we jump on board?’ and there are some ways that people can do it well, and maybe that means advertising in certain ways and maybe that means having your own content. It’s an interesting scenario at the moment for audio.

radioinfo: And do you think radio advertising still plays a part then?

Sharon: I think so. I think that in podcasting especially there is a concern that people will just start shoving radio ads into podcasts, I think what Ralph (Van Dijk, Eardrum founder) and Tristan at Eardrum have done is crucial, because it shows that you can slightly tweak content or go after the medium and that’s why it’s so important to kind of show best practices. I think that the worry about it being, ‘oh you’re just going to have radio spots and dots into podcasting’ it’s like well no, radio advertising is the way it is because you have to cut through. And it’s a lean back listening environment, so you have to have a certain style of ad and the podcast ad experience will be different, and I hope that people actually do that, and so this goes a long way to helping them do that.

Tristan: Yeah, the environment that you consume radio in, it’s very passive, and the environment that a radio ad is placed, on radio, is among several other radio ads. So it really has to do a lot more to cut through and get your attention. Both to stand out in the ad break and to get the listeners attention. Whereas in a podcast, for example, you’ve got the listener’s attention. They’re listening, it’s a highly personal, highly engaged medium, because you’re not multitasking audio when you’re listening to a podcast. So when an ad does appear in a podcast it’s extremely intrusive and it already cuts through, so then if you ads something that’s trying to get your attention on top of that it just becomes extremely irritating. So I guess the benefit of advertising on a podcast is that when your ad does come on in whatever form it is, if it’s spoken by a host or you’re doing something creative, you almost guarantee that the listener’s going to hear it. But you just have to be super aware of that and that has to come across in the tone and the content. It’s usually quite understated, and you usually want to acknowledge in some form or another that ads are really annoying.

radioinfo: And I guess, with that, you want to stop people just skipping over it in a way that they can’t with a radio ad?

Sharon: The problem with podcasting is that it straddles both traditional and digital media, and there are buyers out there that expect to get the same kind of metrics and everything for a facebook ad and for video, where you can see if people are skipping (ads) and unfortunately that element of podcasting is kind of black-boxed still,  although the qualitative research has been done by some pretty high scale firms out there, like you’re listening to a podcast, your phone’s in your pocket, you’re not skipping, you’re listening to it. There’s only one ad, you actually care about the host and so you actually want to hear what they’re going to tell you.

radioinfo: Do you think podcast advertising is changing? Do you think that companies are learning to use it a bit better?

Sharon: The industry itself is probably about two years behind the US, and that comes with certain benefits because you can kind of be like a fast follower, and so you see what’s working and you go right, well I’ll do similar things. And so I would suggest that most of the podcast networks that we work with have always done live reads,  and normally they’ve done what’s called ‘baking them in’ which is, obviously you can’t tell but on podcast starts recording and you read the ad and then that’s the show, now with technology that’s becoming available, people are starting to do what radio’s doing in streaming, and in stream ad replacements and things, and so you can’t really tell but what sounds like a host read ad is still a host read ad it’s just not baked in, it’s kind of being dynamically inserted when the podcast file gets called. So you can do geographic targeting, you can do frequency capping…and to the listener, you’d never know.

Tristan: But being able to place new ads in old podcasts, I just think for the consumers benefit… I think you’d much rather be listening and hear an ad that’s current and relevant, than an ad that was recorded four years ago and might not even be a thing anymore.”

radioinfo: Do you see a shift from radio to on-demand, with podcasting?

Sharon: Yeah I mean, we are a unique podcast company because we have never, never will prophesise the doom of radio. Radio at their core are huge, powerful media entities, and radio is not going to “die”, even though we, seemingly, are trying to prophesise it wherever we go. So the reality is that listener demands are changing, and it’s an on demand world first, and spotify and pandora and all those music companies have really done that, and paved the way, and spoken word content will follow, and radio will figure it out, and they are figuring it out. Like some of the best podcasts in Australia at the moment are coming from commercial radio, and I don’t mean the catch-up shows, I mean they are actually creating good bespoke content.

Tristan: I don’t think radio’s going anywhere, any time soon. But it’s interesting because even though podcast listenership is growing at quite a rapid rate, that listenership isn’t coming from radio. It’s not eating radio’s listeners, it’s a totally new market. People that aren’t even high frequency radio listeners, people that you’d be more likely, prior to this, reach with a YouTube ad, are now getting into podcasts. So it’s growing its own market, moreso than eating into radio.

Reporting: Caitlin McHugh

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