Podcasts, Spotify and Co. are on everyone’s lips (or rather in everyone’s ears). Digital trends electrify the professional world (keyword: clubhouse), but once they have arrived in the everyday life of advertisers, they often create irritation when it comes to integrating them sensibly into a media strategy. Lukas Brändle explains 3 strategic approaches, how online audio enriches a media strategy.

Online audio fits into a longer series of digitization trends in classic media types. It all started in the late 1990s with display advertising, which was the digital equivalent of print. Ten years later, Online Video TV has supplemented radio advertising, and now Online Audio. According to media theory, online does not completely replace the offline media genre, but synchronously the use of the younger target group collapses and shifts to the new digital medium. With the maturity of the digital channel, the older target group follows.
We can take this effect into account in strategic media planning in order to keep efficiency and effectiveness high: with a sensible addition of online audio to a radio schedule, we can compensate for the increasing disinterest of younger listeners for radio. Even if the prices of online audio are significantly higher than those of the radio, the adjustable targeting in the digital campaign management makes it efficient again in reaching the target group. We achieve effectiveness with intelligent frequency capping, which takes more account of those users who apparently listen to the radio less. With this approach, a classic radio campaign becomes an integrated audio campaign.

Two planning variables depend on the target group:

  • Budget share of online audio and radio: Unfortunately, there is still no evidence-based formula for Austria, but the general rule is that the younger the target group, the more budget makes sense for online audio.
  • Choice of formats: Online audio is a very fragmented media channel. From web radio to podcasts, everything is included. Web radio ideally complements VHF radio in planning, while podcasts can reach a very high target group.

# 2 Promote interaction with online audio

As digital advertisers, we are used to direct user feedback on an impression. Whether click, view, visit or whatever is decisive for a metric, the immediate reaction and its direct measurement is in our DNA.

Online audio is actually predestined for interactive calls to action for the user, if it weren’t for the media gap. An audio spot cannot offer an immediate call-to-action button like the display ad does.

Interestingly, however, the online audio formats have very innovative powers to compensate for this conceptual disadvantage. As a result, more than 50% of podcast media campaigns in the US already have performance targets. The host-read format as a special version of recommendation marketing in combination with an incentive and the campaign URL in the descriptions lead to successful sales performance. There are also wonderful examples of user interaction in the online audio spot formats: With the Shake-Me ad, the audio spot prompts you to shake your mobile phone. An overlay with additional campaign information then opens on the display.
Online audio can be used wonderfully as a performance channel. We have the necessary instruments to measure the performance and also to assign it to the resources used.

# 3 use online audio in a full funnel strategy

At the moment I don’t know any other media channel that still lives this kind of Wild West romance. Since online audio is very diversified and partly immature, it attracts soldiers of fortune like the gold diggers on the Klondike back then. I see myself more in the role of the sheriff, who keeps the overview in the online audio saloon. These multi-layered opportunities to simply try out this energy, things and ideas create an inspiring environment. This gives us media strategists new opportunities to view audio differently.

The classic VHF spot is very often used in an actionist manner in order to move the listener directly to an action, here mostly at a physical POS. Audio advertising has always been more of a lower funnel measure. It is exciting that different online audio formats fit like a patchwork into the entire purchase decision funnel. Above all, the host-read format of the podcasts is very suitable as an image and awareness-building measure. Similar to influencer marketing, it builds the brand using the credibility of the podcast host. With the Shake-Me ad, online audio can encourage user activation and guide them specifically into the conversion funnel. This results in retargeting audiences, which in turn are alluded to using a programmatic online audio inventory. It goes so far that dynamic audio spots can already address users in a personalized way in Germany. From my point of view, this is not a dystopian prophecy, but illustrates the diverse possibilities of online audio.

These three strategic approaches make it clear that online audio is not an issue for part-time interns, but rather should be anchored in the heart of a media strategy. When used sensibly, it expands the media planning possibilities.

Lukas Brändle, Director Digital Solutions & Innovation| MediaCom Austria

About the author: Lukas Brändle has been Client Director Digital at MediaCom in Vienna since 2018 and is an avid podcast listener. He accompanies national and international customers in their digital transformation. Apart from his professional devotion, he is a passionate city beekeeper.

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