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Don't Doubt the Power of Digital Audio


Have You Heard? Digital Audio is In


Digital audio is no longer the new frontier. According to eMarketer, digital audio has consumed more than an hour of US adults’ time since 2016. Don’t look now, but that was 6 years ago. Fast forward to present times, and digital audio continues to grow, with the average daily time spent now sitting at one hour and 40 minutes. Clearly, digital audio is not only here to stay, but we haven’t yet even reached its peak. It’s beyond time for brands and media buyers to take notice and consider how digital audio advertising fits into the overall media mix.


The Rise of Digital Audio


Although traditional radio still takes up a large share of time spent with overall audio platforms, digital audio has become more popular. There may be a few reasons to attribute to this change. For so long, traditional radio was the primary method of audio consumption, largely because it was the only way to consume popular music, news & other audio content. All the way back to FDR’s fireside chats, to Saturday nights on the Grand Ole Opry, to the advent of FM radio and DJ personalities like Alan Freed and Wolfman Jack, to broadcasts of major league sports, radio became part of society’s collective conscience. Basically, every generation since the Greatest Generation used radio as its primary method of consuming audio.


However, with the changing technological landscape near the beginning of the new millennium, methods of consuming audio content began to shift. At first this shift was slow, with the introduction of satellite radio providers, like Sirius & XM (remember when they used to be two different companies?) But around the beginning of the second decade of the 2010s, the change took a more rapid pace, leading to where we are now. At first, platforms like Spotify & Pandora were introduced, and users began to become accustomed to listening to their audio content over the internet. Then, the platforms evolved and began to be woven & integrated with the leading social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat & TikTok. Plus, the 1990s & 2000s babies began to grow up. This generation grew up defined by two things: Internet & social media. For this generation, who are now adults, it’s second nature to use the internet for just about all things in life, audio included. For these young adults, digital audio provides not just an enjoyable medium to consume different types of content, but it’s a social media outlet itself.


But young millennials and Gen Zers aren’t the only contributors to the rise of digital audio. The older generations have become more tech savvy and have made adjustments to their lifelong attachment to traditional radio to now embrace digital audio. This makes the medium a powerful avenue to reach people of all ages.


Digital Audio Opportunities


At The Ward Group, we view terrestrial radio & digital audio under the same umbrella – audio. Whether someone is listening to their local pop hits radio station or a Daily Mix on Spotify, the nature of the content itself remains the same, which means from a media buying standpoint each can be treated as essentially the same medium. But traditional and digital audio advertising is bought and sold in separate buckets, which means we have to approach it this way in the media planning & buying process. With digital audio, we as media buyers are faced with a fragmented landscape, much like that of Advanced TV. There’s Spotify, the giant. Amazon Prime Music is another avenue. Pandora is still around. Don’t forget about streaming broadcast radio, like the iHeart app or Katz digital audio streaming. Do you get our point? This just scratches the surface of the available digital audio advertising inventory available to us as media buyers, and to brands and advertisers. There’s also podcast advertising, and digital audio inventory available within the programmatic advertising space. Every digital audio buy presents its own sets of challenges.


Making the Right Choice in Digital Audio


As we’ve discussed, digital audio advertising requires a carefully-crafted media strategy that fits your desired target audience and performance goals. The Ward Group has been buying and planning media since rabbit ears were high-tech, which means we’re well-suited for the new world of streaming audio. Contact The Ward Group at 972-818-4050 to take your digital audio campaigns to the next level!