After sight, hearing is our most dominant sense. But unlike visual media, it’s rare for audio to be used in innovative ways in advertising. However, sound is a powerful tool and should not be underestimated – music has been used in battles and wars for millenia both to increase morale and intimidate the enemy, while listening to music has been shown to temporarily reduce the effects of dementia.
The power of audio has always been extremely valuable to marketers – the first radio ads were broadcast in 1922 and jingles have become a mainstay of TV advertising. In 2015, advertisers were seeing $6 of sales for every $1 spent on terrestrial radio advertising, and brands who advertise during a customers’ favourite podcast see a huge percentage of listeners visiting their website.
Why is audio so powerful? Because people are always listening. Humans are able to hear from 25 weeks after conception and now 22 million people listen to over 11 hours of audio a week. What’s more, 24 million people stream music and podcasts every week online meaning that advertisers can now access a shed-load of data about who’s hearing their ads.
But while audio advertising has been used successful for years in an audio only environment like radio, or in conjunction with TV, it doesn’t mean the opportunities end there. Here’s how some brands are using audio to give customers a fresh (and sometimes unexpected) experience:
Last year, O2 used audio to direct customers to nearby stores, something which had previously been the remit of roadside billboards and teens in sandwich boards. Because consumers take in so much content on streaming services or online radio, brands are are able to figure out exactly where they will be when they are served an ad. With a combination of intelligent algorithms and getting voice artists to reel off hundreds of street names, O2 were able to invite listeners to come into their closest store by naming the actual street where it was located. The innovative use of audio paid off, and customers who were served these tailored ads were 67% more likely to go in-store than those who weren’t.
The ability to personalise audio content to different customers was taken up a notch by delivery company Deliveroo. For one of their audio campaigns, Deliveroo recorded the name of every major UK city, along with every type weather condition, day of the week, time of day and type of restaurant on their books. They then used the data they could access about the listener to construct a personalised ad. This meant that a customer on a rainy Monday night in London could be asked if they fancy a curry, but another on a sunny Sunday afternoon could be suggested a steak, all as part of the same campaign. The various combinations meant that Deliveroo, in effect, made 46,000 different pieces of content for a single ad.
All Good Bananas
But great audio doesn’t have to be tailor-made and come in 100,000 different varieties, as proven by a fantastic campaign by All Good Bananas, who innovatively combined audio with the in-store experience). The campaign, called ‘listen to your conscience’ placed a pressure sensor near the banana section of a supermarket. When customers stood on it while browsing, ‘their conscience’ would start whispering to them to buy ethically sourced produce from All Good Bananas. The only way to do this campaign justice is to check it out for yourself.
By using audio innovatively, brands have found new ways to connect with customers. As technology develops further, there will no doubt be endless new ways to utilise audio in advertising, so it’ll be worth keeping an ear to the ground in case something new turns up, and when thinking of how to use sound in your next campaign… don’t be afraid to go a bit bananas.