IAB: Podcasting and streaming now embedded in audio advertising mix

The latest survey finds streaming audio and podcast advertising growing leading to better diversification and use of creative in audio advertising

Podcasting and streaming digital audio advertising increased in 2020, according to IAB’s newly released Advertising Audio State of the Nation Report Wave 5.

The fresh report found 69 per cent of media agencies now reporting streaming digital audio advertising as a significant or regular part of their activity and 36 per cent report podcast advertising as a significant or regular part of their activity.

“While there were those who held all spend throughout the year, most people invested in various types of streaming and podcasting over the year, although it did look very different to the usual way,” said IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy, when discussing the results at an IAB Audio Summit this week.

The survey is a collaborative industry project, supported by 18 different media and tech companies, as well as industry body, Commercial Radio Australia. It was conducted by independent research company, Hoop Group, across December 2020 and January 2021 with 222 respondents.

Le Roy noted when the IAB started the research five years years ago, digital streaming and podcasting advertising didn’t sit in either traditional or digital budgets. 

“Today, we are seeing an increase in the amount of agencies planning and/or buying their broadcast radio and streaming audio in an integrated manner, however with the increase in programmatic investment across all channels, there is still room for audio investment to be baked into cross digital programmatic campaigns,” she said.

Read more: Panel debates the challenges facing digital audio advertising

How digital saved the radio star

Greater diversification across environments and genres, as well as better use of creative assets were also found to be supported the rise of streaming audio and podcast advertising. However, the report noted campaign integration maybe be hampered by audio advertising continuing to be planned and bought in siloed teams, with only 56 per cent of agencies planning and buying digital audio collaboratively with digital display activity, and 53 per cent planning and buying in combination with digital video activity.

Looking back to 2019, the advertising industry was in a bit of a tricky place, so digital has survived well, Le Roy noted. While there was a bit of bump in 2019 and 2020 was very different, 2021 stands as a time of new opportunity.

“In 2019, there was a bit of excitement and also wariness about trying new things. Then at the beginning of 2020, everyone was raring to go try new things, try experimentation, but it didn't always come through in terms of experimentation,” Le Roy explained.

“While investment increased and went broader in terms of environments, this year we’re really set up for a lot of new things, particularly in the creative area, like different testing, different attribution and different ROI."

The rise of programmatic

While audio now spans radio, podcasting and streaming, and planning advertising holistically across all these mediums is increasing, there is still a way to go.

“On the flip side, the thing we're starting to look at with all our emerging programmatic channels in particular, is how it's embedded in cross-digital spend,” Le Roy continued.

In particular, the streaming audio sector has benefited from increasingly making its inventory available through programmatic channels, with agencies embracing programmatic during 2020 to secure greater control over their investments, the latest survey has found.

"We're seeing a little more growth on the programmatic side, the omnichannel programmatic side, but there's a lot of growth to go there,” she noted.

In 2020, programmatic definitely came into its own with advertisers. “Advertisers and agencies wanted more control, which is a good thing, although there’s a bit of on and off to do with not wanting to risk a campaign if Covid comes back in. So there's a lot of experimentation with programmatic, but overall a lot more people investing in programmatic and that's definitely comes through to an audio point of view.”

“The survey showed cross-channel planning management as a key reason to use programmatic in audio.”

Brand awareness

Brand awareness is the number one reasons for using audio, particularly linear radio, according to the IAB survey, although it’s on the rise across all areas. Building brand awareness is the predominant objective for media agencies using streaming digital audio and podcast advertising (82 per cent and 73 per cent respectively).

“We’re actually seeing an increase for brand awareness across all three areas - linear radio, podcasting and streaming. There is a lot more planning around brand awareness in all channels, including audio,” Le Roy said.

However, the IAB report identified a disconnect between campaign objectives and the metrics used to evaluate it, with just 34 per cent of media agencies using brand metrics to assess the performance of brand awareness streaming digital audio and podcast advertising. “There’s a real mismatch between objectives and metrics,” Le Roy noted.

The report found a third of media agencies are not tailoring creative to suit different audio environments when running campaigns across different broadcast and digital audio advertising options. Encouragingly, agencies reported fewer barriers to creating fresh creative assets including digital voice to allow brand messages shine through, expressing a belief that while 2020 was not a year for experimentation, there are signs of a shift in interest towards these assets for 2021.

Creative element

Another point raised is 2021 as the year to take creative more seriously. When it comes the dynamic audio creative, it’s usually about 40 per cent of respondents. But it often hasn't converted into action, according to Le Roy.

“Creative is the area with the most potential and it’s come through that way again this year,” Le Roy said. "I'm hoping 2021 will be the year of risk taking, the year when brands can really try new things and cut through, because we are seeing a little bit of it encouragement needed to try new things." 

In Australia, as other markets around the world, there’s a need to invest in content. “Understanding the role of content creators in the podcast space and the different categories is a way to get more support in audio,” Le Roy noted.

For the first time, the Wave 5 Report also reveals the top seven genres identified by agencies for podcast investment. It’s good news for local content creators with news taking the top spot, closely followed by society and culture and then business. “Creative is the area with the most untapped potential,” Le Roy noted.

Finally, there’s also too little fit-for-purpose creative that’s designed for the environment in which it will be consumed or the particular target audience, according to the survey.

“We're not seeing enough investment in tailoring creative and the research shows that tailoring content can give any marketing campaign an uplift,” Le Roy said. “It seems like an obvious opportunity to start testing environmental factors in the audio space.”

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