Three Tips to Pump up the Volume of Your Audio Strategy

This article is part of a larger list of creative audio recommendations published by WARC.

The time of the ear has come. The streaming music industry is growing at record speed. Nielsen reported 7.5 billion weekly on-demand audio streams in the US in March 2017, a 62.4% increase from the same period in 2016. Accessing music through streaming has eclipsed purchasing a single or album digitally.1 Couple this with the rise in the use of voice assistants, like Alexa and Google Home, and brands are facing new pressures to communicate with consumers digitally via audio.

But for brands and agencies who are willing to get creative, audio is also a huge opportunity to connect with consumers on a more personal level. Here are three tactics brands and agencies can adopt to maintain relevance in environments where visual references to the brand are nonexistent.

Personalization

Traditional broadcast radio is a one-to-many medium, but digital audio provides data and opportunities to connect on a one-to-one basis. Additionally, we also know that most listening is mobile (60%2) and frequently happens through headphones. That intimacy naturally lends itself to individualized messaging.

Many digital streaming platforms have the ability to target their users by age, gender, location, time of day and day of week. This can be leveraged to enhance a message’s relevance, providing an advantage over traditional broadcast radio.

As a general principle, audio ads that are more personalized to the listener see higher engagement. That said, brands should ensure their audience are receptive to personalized audio ads.

Use data to enhance audio creative

The primary vehicle for music consumption in the streaming age is the playlist. Both user-generated and owned-and-operated playlists can provide data beyond demographics, including genre, mood, mind-state or activity. This draws a richer and more detailed picture of the consumer, providing brands and agencies with more opportunities to connect with them at the right time and place.

To promote the 2017 launch of its Kuga range on Spotify, Ford incorporated gender and playlist targeting into its creative messaging. Listeners of running or exercise playlists were served audio messages that related to their current activity. Ford coupled this with a gender-relevant voiceover to help immerse the listener.

Another example of a brand that crafted messaging based on Spotify’s targeting data was Snickers. Snickers used Spotify’s genre targeting to identify when listeners were straying from their usual listening habits. The brand served the audience audio to remind listeners of their transgressions from the norm. This creative was the audio extension of its long-term creative platform, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

Maintain a consistent voice

Just like a fingerprint, every human voice is unique. As voice technology becomes more ubiquitous, the need to personalize a brand voice becomes more pronounced. Beyond a visual logo, a consistent voice can be used to help consumers readily contextualize the brand that is speaking to them.

For example, Geico, the US insurance company, used British television actor Ben Wood’s voice to personify the animated Gecko which has represented the brand for almost a decade. Woods’ voice, which operated across television and broadcast radio, allowed the consumer to recognize the character even if he couldn’t be seen.

While most modern brand guideline documents make reference to tone of voice, very few extend this to audio. However, with the growth of digital audio advertising platforms, brands and agencies that integrate audio into brand guidelines will be better set-up to succeed.

Pete Beeney is a Global Agency Lead at Spotify

WARC subscribers can view all five strategy recommendations here.

1 Nielsen, Year-End Music Report 2018
2 Spotify and GroupM, Streaming State of Mind (2016)