Where does audio fit into your digital marketing plans?

I can hear 99 out of 100 marketers saying either "nowhere" or "What?! Audio hasn't really made any impact on digital marketing except when connected to video". Yet music and audio is all around us and is part of every conversation we have. With so much interest and targeted effort on written communication in the form of social media, content marketing, PR, web etc., we seem to have forgotten one of our main senses.

Before digital and TV, audio or radio was the prime mass marketing tool, influencing millions of people across the globe as they listened at home, work, while shopping or anywhere that they could get a signal. When radio went digital everyone seemed excited by the prospect however whenever I discuss marketing, radio is usually the last channel anyone will ever mention if at all.

Mobile devices are primed for audio, they’re core task is to accept and make calls, although if measured by time we all spend more time tweeting, reading news and playing games than actually speaking to someone. Music, internet radio and podcasts are also all available via smartphones and other digital devices and have been with us for much longer than apps or mobile websites. So why hasn’t marketing adopted these tools and turned them to their use?

If you ever listen to Spotify or another music platform the amount of adverts are minimal and in fact most subscription packages exclude adverts for users. Is this because the platform managers believe that the revenues generated from adverts are so minimal that it’s preferable to ask us to pay our £5 per month? Or is it that as marketing professionals we haven’t taken the time to really think about the use of audio as part of an overall experience of a brand, idea or conversation?

The IAB audio council have put together a council of internet radio stations, audio platforms and traditional radio to promote the medium and its place in the marketing mix. An article gives more details and I hope they help identify areas where audio can add value to content as well as communicate ideas.

In January, Confused.com used Facebook and Twitter to appeal for people to be monitored over a 500-mile drive to see how the genre of music they listened to affected their driving. The activity supported the company's launch of a telematic app that monitors driving behaviour.

"We had a psychologist who analysed the results, concluding that 80 beats per minute was the safest speed of music to listen to while driving," says Flaherty. "We compiled a driving list on Spotify and also included the findings in our customer newsletter. It is a good example of efficient use of content."

This example shows a clever use of mixed content marketing with audio. Now for consumers of Confused.com they have a playlist that will make the long drive home more comfortable and connect driving with confussed.com and by association help them to sell more car insurance. Instead of think of audio as only a forum for recording a traditional radio advert we should think of it as content that creates a feeling, mood or association. By combining this with other multi/omni-channels, audio starts to look like a very powerful driver for engagement. For more ideas about how to represent a brand or a feeling in sound then take a watch of this lecture by Robert Hofman and colleague from Digital October.

Another factor is that start-ups haven't grasped the nettle and developed clever technological tools to support the growth in this area of marketing. Smartly Red Bull have been thinking about this and have developed the Red Bull amplifier where people with ideas are matched with Red Bulls considerable power and might to develop the next hot start-up.

Music and websites haven't always gone hand in hand as consumers very quickly show disapproval of sites that force either music or audio commentary on the user. However if it was an option and complimentary to the experience, sounds of the garden on a food site or ambient electronic on a games review site then I think more users would grow to like the complete experience.

What will the future hold? I believe that audio will have it's time again and our world will once again engage us via sound just as the market seller shouting "get your apples here" has done for millennia!

About the Author

John Williams avatar

John Williams, Sales and Marketing

John was once a client who joined the Gibe team for several years to help us with sales and marketing. He left Gibe to return to the world of freelance marketing and is once again a wonderful client for Gibe.