Mediatel’s future of audio part 2

Our Senior Account Manager, Rose Livesey, joined a series of webinars hosted by Mediatel on the Future of Audio. The webinars discussed the trends pre pandemic and the impact of the current lockdown on audio consumption, as well as looking ahead. Here are some of the key areas covered.

Commercial Radio

It is no surprise that commercial radio listeners are consuming an average of 86% more each week during lockdown (an extra 1hr 45mins a day, totalling 26 hours a week) (Radiocentre 2020). As listeners are confined to their homes during this health crisis, radio provides emotional support, keeps us in touch with the outside world, has the ability to lift mood and offers company. There is therefore a great opportunity for advertisers to capitalise on this and be reactive to the latest events thanks to radio’s short lead times. Sainsbury’s successfully did just this by promoting their exclusive opening hours for the most vulnerable, NHS and social care workers to help ‘feed the nation’.

Radio has always generated high ROI, boosting both short- and long-term ad effects. So, while it is important for advertisers not to lose momentum during this time, it could deliver more value as a medium than ever before.


Podcasts were a growing channel, recognised for their powerful engagement, even before the crisis. For similar reasons to those mentioned already for radio, usage is booming during lockdown, and habits are shifting. There has been a shift in genre with sport down (naturally), but comedy, news/current affairs and binge listening up. While currently briefs from advertisers are challenging sales houses on how their brand can use podcasts to help people during this time, podcast’s benefits will go beyond the crisis and some of the changes in media consumption could be a more permanent fixture.

Advertisers’ opportunities with podcasts are vast, with three potential angles:

  1. Airtime – contextually align an ad with the content e.g. a housebuilder brand in a property podcast
  2. Sponsorship – an authentic endorsement of your brand. Adam Buxton did an excellent one for Oatly. Elizabeth Day endorses brands such as Moorish hummus and Missoma jewellery in her ‘How to Fail’ podcast in a way that feels extremely genuine
  3. Branded content – huge scope for education and engagement

There are a few challenges podcasts face as a maturing advertising medium. Although usage is growing there can still be an issue of scale. Brands must be very well-aligned to the content and highly considered in order for the audience to engage. Finally, as with many non-linear opportunities it can be difficult to measure effectiveness (are people recalling ads, taking action etc). Despite these challenges, now is a great time to test podcasts!

Smart Devices

It may come as no surprise, but smart speakers are set to be the fasted-adopted piece of technology ever with growing ownership and usage.

So far, advertisers have taken two popular routes when using voice:

  1. Entertainment: popular especially when appealing to kids; for example John Lewis’ Moz the Monster who would read bed time stories
  2. Utility: creating value for brands such as reading out recipes. A great example is Tommy’s charity who offered advice on breast feeding

Brands have also been innovative with CTAs driving people to order samples via their smart speakers. This has been taken even further by offering coupons and following up with consumers for feedback on their samples.

In terms of the future of voice activation, while quality is improving there is still room to make voice more natural and human-like, deepening that emotional connection and in turn increasing trust. Advertisers need to consider how their brand sounds: is it distinctive and easy to pronounce? It is important for SEO to be in a strong position before utilising voice search.

There are two key generations that smart speakers present great opportunity:

  1. Generation Voice: many kids have been brought up with smart speakers in their homes and often are more tech savvy than their parents. Brands need to be ready for when this smart speaker savvy generation grows up
  2. Older generations, those less screen savvy: can really offer value here, ability to target loneliness and offer practical uses such as home security, setting reminders, audio guides etc

In summary, voice activation continues to be a growing space for advertisers to explore, it has a long way to go, but it’s an exciting road ahead! If you would like to discuss audio opportunities for your brand or company please get in touch with a member of our team.